Korea Alcohol starts up idled etac plant

05 December 2008 03:43  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Korea Alcohol Industrial Company started up its 25,000 tonne/year ethylene-based ethyl acetate plant at Ulsan on Thursday following the recent plunge in ethylene raw material cost, a company official said on Friday.

The said unit had been idled for almost two years due to poor economics in the wake of sustained increase in ethylene feedstock values.

Ethylene spot prices subsequently plunged about 78% from July highs to fresh five- year lows at around $400/tonne (€316/tonne) CFR (cost and freight) NE (northeast) Asia in late November before a slight pick up last week, according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS Pricing.

Prices rose $40-50/tonne to $400-450/tonne CFR NE Asia at the close of business last Friday on the back of tightened supply and wider margins to vinyls and polyethylene (PE) derivatives.

The fall in ethylene prices prompted ethylene-based ethyl acetate producers in northeast Asia to eye restarting idled plants.

Meanwhile, operating rates at Korea Alcohol’s other 50,000 tonne/year esterification ethyl acetate/butyl acetate swing plant, had been cut to 50% from 70%, to maintain the current supply and demand balance, he said.

“Demand is still very weak,” he added.

Ethyl acetate spot prices in northeast Asia fell $40/tonne to a 31-month low of $710-740/tonne CFR NE Asia while Southeast Asia’s prices fell $20-30/tonne to a four-and-a-half-year low at $750-780/tonne CFR last Friday, based on ICIS Pricing.

High inventories in Taiwan, south Korea and southeast Asia, coupled with weak demand from the downstream printing inks and solvents industries contributed to the bearish market sentiment.

($1 = €0.79)

For more on ethyl acetate visit ICIS chemical intelligence

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By: Helen Lee
+65 6780 4359

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