FocusSumitomo MMA restart delay tightens supply

04 July 2008 04:42  [Source: ICIS news]

By Anu Agarwal

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--A near three-month delay in the restart of Sumitomo Chemical’s 80,000 tonne/year No 2 methyl methacrylate (MMA) production line has resulted in tightened supply in the Asian market, buyers and sellers said on Friday.

The line in Singapore had shut on 12 March and was expected to restart in the second half of April. However, continued problems during the maintenance shutdown, catalyst change and damage in the reactor led to a delay, said a company source.

The restart date was currently 11 July but it was not certain that the plant would start due to the spate of technical problems, added the source.

Sumitomo is also preparing to shut its No 1 53,000 tonnes/year MMA line for a two-week routine maintenance starting 24 July, he added.

The No 3 and newest production line of 90,000 tonnes/year also needed a small shutdown, which had been planned for July but would now have to be delayed due to problems in the No 1 line, he said.

Sumitomo’s problems have caused tightened supply in Asia and upcoming planned shutdowns in Europe have also meant that less deep-sea cargoes would be available in Asia, said a northeast Asian MMA trader.

Therefore, prices have been rising with sellers now targeting prices above $2,100/tonne CFR (cost and freight) SE (southeast) Asia for July business, some 7-9% higher than June, said another trader based in Singapore.

MMA producers have also been reeling from surging feedstock costs of acetone, MTBE and methanol and said price hikes were necessary to restore margins.

Major MMA producers in Asia include Sumitomo Chemical, Mitsubishi Rayon Co, Lucite, Formosa, LG MMA and Asahi Kasei.

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By: Anu Agarwal
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