Petro Rabigh, YanPet cut rates at cracker, derivative units

08 May 2009 11:31  [Source: ICIS news]

Petro Rabigh (Source: Petro Rabigh)SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co (Petro Rabigh) and Yanbu Petrochemical Co (Yanpet)  have cut production at their cracker complexes in Saudi Arabia due to shortage of feedstock gas, sources close to the companies said on Friday.

“Limited gas availability from Saudi Aramco has caused production at the Petro Rabigh cracker and the two Yanpet crackers to be reduced to 70%,” one of the sources said.

“We have no idea when the gas supply issue will be resolved, but hopefully, it will be sooner than later,” he said.

The production cuts at the crackers have also affected the derivative units at the complexes, he added.

Petro Rabigh, Yanpet and Saudi Aramco officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Yanpet crackers, with a combined ethylene capacity of 1.78 m tonnes/year, were operating at full capacity before the gas supply issue surfaced this week, a second source said.

Information on the earlier operating rate at the 1.25m tonne/year Petro Rabigh cracker, which started up in April, was not available.

The Yanpet complex at Yanbu includes a 1.5m tonne/year polyethylene (PE) facility and a 350,000 tonne/year polypropylene (PP) plant.

The Petro Rabigh facility houses a 300,000 tonne/year high density PE (HDPE) line and a 600,000 tonne/year monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant, which have already started up.

It also includes a 250,000 tonne/year easy processing PE (EPPE) unit and a 350,000 tonne/year LLDPE (linear low density polyethylene) unit which are expected to start up in mid-May, as well as a 700,000 tonne/year PP plant which is due to start up in June.

The second source added that the reduction in operating rates would be temporary because the crackers at Yanbu can use other feedstocks such as naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and heavy feeds.

Yanpet is a joint venture between Saudi Basic Industries Co (SABIC) and ExxonMobil. Petro Rabigh is a joint venture between state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco and Japan's Sumitomo Chemicals.

Salmon Aidan Lee and Peh Soo Hwee contributed to this article

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By: Prema Viswanathan
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