'World's largest' PO/SM plant start-up only possible in late H1

05 February 2010 09:03  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Zhenhai Refining and Chemical Co (ZRCC) and LyondellBasell have reverted back to the original schedule of starting up their joint propylene oxide/styrene monomer (PO/SM) facility in China’s Zhejiang province sometime in June, a source at LyondellBasell said on Friday.

Mechanical issues would prevent the plant from operating ahead of schedule, the source said, clarifying earlier expectations of a March start-up.

The plant in Ningbo - touted as the largest PO/SM facility to be built in the world - can produce up to 285,000 tonnes/year of PO and 620,000 tonnes/year of SM.

Its upstream naphtha cracker at the same site, operated by ZRCC has a nameplate capacity of 1m tonnes/year.

Construction of the cracker was completed in late December while PO/SM plant was completed in end January 2010, the source said.

“The PO/SM unit will complete its synchronization by the end of April and will be brought on stream if the cracker starts up on schedule,” he said.

A late-June start-up for the Ningbo PO/SM plant would suit the market just fine as downstream demand would have recovered by then, said a China-based trader in Mandarin.

“If the [PO/SM] unit starts up on schedule, it will be the exact period of time when downstream demand picks up. The start-up of this unit will not flood the PO market [with supply] but [will] satisfy the needs [of] the derivative sectors,” a Chinese trader said in Mandarin.

The PO/SM plant which uses the LyondellBasell’s PO technology will be the US major’s first petrochemical production facility in China.

The PO/SM project is a joint venture between ZRCC, a subsidiary of Sinopec and polymer giant LyondellBasell.

Other PO producers in Asia include Dow, Shell, Nihon Oxirane, AGC Chemicals and SKC Co.

With additional reporting by Peh Soo Hwee

For more on ethylene, PO and SM visit ICIS chemical intelligence
To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

By: Ong Sheau Ling
+65 6780 4359

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