S Korea’s KPIC to run naphtha cracker at full tilt in March

11 February 2010 04:37  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Korea Petrochemical Industry Co (KPIC) plans to keep operating its 470,000 tonne/year naphtha cracker in Onsan at maximum capacity, even as ethylene prices started to slide in pre-Lunar New Year holidays, a company source said on Thursday.

The cracker would run at full rate in March, steady to levels in February and January, he said.

“Ethylene prices have weakened but the margins are still healthy. So the Korean crackers are eager to operate at 100%,” said the source.

Margins have toned down to around $640/tonne (€467/tonne) from nearly $700/tonne two weeks ago, tracking a softer downstream petrochemicals market, traders said. Asian ethylene prices dropped to below $1,350/tonne CFR (cost and freight) NE (northeast) Asia from close to $1,400/tonne NE Asia last week, data from ICIS pricing showed.

But the margins were considered healthy, and were wide enough to cover the base cost of $250-300/tonne, they added.

Another KPIC source said the cracker may undergo a turnaround in October, though the plans were tentative for now.

Asia’s second-half March open-spec naphtha rose to $686.50-689.50/tonne CFR (cost and freight) Japan on Thursday midday trade, up $8.50-9.50/tonne CFR Japan a day ago as US crude futures marched towards $75/bbl, based on ICIS pricing data.

KPIC bought 300,000 tonnes of full range term naphtha for its October 2009-September 2010 requirement, at discounts of $1.00-2.00/tonne to Japan quotes CFR.

($1 = €0.73)

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By: Felicia Loo



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