SABIC shuts Wilton BD unit again due to polymer fouling

03 March 2010 16:56  [Source: ICIS news]

BRUSSELS (ICIS news)--SABIC’s butadiene (BD) supply worries continue as its extraction unit at Wilton, UK, has again been shut down because of polymer fouling, a company source said on Wednesday.

Wilton has been down since last Sunday (28 February),” said the source.

The outage was the latest in a line of recent problems at SABIC’s Wilton BD unit.

The unit first succumbed to polymer fouling, which is commonly known as popcorn, in mid-January.

In October 2009, technical issues forced SABIC to reduce the unit's operating rates, leading the company to then declare force majeure on supplies of BD and raffinate 1.

The unit was restarted at the end of January but then experienced a 10-day outage in mid-February. It had just been ramping up rates following the last outage when the problems recurred.

“It will be down until May now, when the planned maintenance is over,” said the source, referring to the fact that maintenance had been scheduled to begin around 14-15 March.

SABIC’s Wilton BD unit has a capacity of 100,000 tonnes/year, according to the ICIS plants and projects database.

A force majeure was still in place at SABIC’s Netherlands-based BD unit at Geleen.

But the company was going to stop the Geleen unit on 4 March, a day earlier than originally planned, to resolve the technical issues, which had resulted in unstable and reduced output since 18 November.

A scheduled maintenance turnaround was still expected to get under way at Geleen in June.

Butadiene supply in Europe was very tight because of production constraints and strong demand from export markets.

Spot prices had soared to €1,400/tonne ($1,892/tonne) FOB (free on board) NWE (northwest Europe) and above, according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing, although concluded business was thin as spot availability was so limited.

Butadiene market players were beginning to gear up for the next round of quarterly contract discussions.

The first-quarter contract settled at €950/tonne FD (free delivered) NEW, and many sources said they were not anticipating a sizeable increase in order to bridge the gap between spot and contract volume.

The March monthly contract price (MCP) settled at €1,125/tonne FD, up €145/tonne from February.

($1 = €0.74)

For more on SABIC visit ICIS company intelligence
For more on butadiene visit ICIS chemical intelligence
To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

By: Nel Weddle
+44 20 8652 3214

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