Artenius extends Wilton PTA shutdown, confirms force majeure

31 March 2009 16:22  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--Artenius will delay the restart of its purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant in Wilton, UK, from the end March or beginning of April because of the late delivery of critical equipment and materials, a company spokesman said on Tuesday.

“We will not restart [the] plant at end March/beginning April. Recognising that customers and suppliers need to plan their business, we are reluctantly recommending to customers to take PTA cover for April and informing suppliers that we will not require paraxylene (PX) for delivery in April,” the spokesman said.

Industry players had been saying throughout March that the unit was on force majeure, but confirmation of this from Artenius was only received on Tuesday.

Artenius had planned to shut down the 500,000 tonne/year PTA plant for most of March because of catalyst problems.

There were no details about when the plant’s restart process might begin, the spokesman said.

“No major technical issues have been uncovered, but [there is] still significant critical work to complete,” said the spokesman.

The shutdown began after Invista’s announcement of its intention to close operations in Offenbach, Germany, in March.

PTA producers said availability issues, higher production costs and limited imports into Europe were driving them to target €10-30/tonne ($13-40/tonne) increases over the April PX feedstock pass-through for March.

“We need to improve margins, profitability – the health of the business – because we are running at really unprofitable levels,” a producer said.

March PTA values increased by €55-65/tonne on average over February because of feedstock developments and sellers’ determination to improve margins, sources said.

Prices were assessed at €645-680/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe), according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

($1 = €0.76)

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By: Caroline Howard
+44 20 8652 3214



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