04 May 2010 20:20 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS news)--Around 150,000 tonnes/year of excess ethylene capacity from the Ras Laffan cracker in Qatar will be sold, mainly to southeast Asia, once the cracker and derivative plants are running stably, one of the partners in the venture said on Tuesday.
The 1.3m tonne/year cracker has a structural excess of ethylene capacity.
The excess ethylene will be marketed once the new cracker is stabilised and once operations reach full capacity at Qatofin’s 450,000 tonne/year linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) plant, which takes ethylene from Ras Laffan, said Bryan Canfield, vice president for Total Petrochemicals in Qatar.
“We have to get Qatofin up and running to maximum capacity. It had some operational difficulties but is now running stably at just over 60%, just starving for feed," he said.
"Hopefully it’ll be cranked up now that the inauguration [of Ras Laffan] is completed," he said.
Canfield added: “I certainly hope [to be exporting ethylene in the first half of this year]. We’re pushing for this as soon as possible.”
Graeme Burnett, Total Petrochemicals’s senior vice president for the Middle East and Asia, said that the excess ethylene would be sold mainly to southeast Asia.
Qapco is adding a 300,000 tonnes/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant that will be on stream by the end of 2011. This will then absorb the structural 150,000 tonnes/year excess of ethylene, Canfield said.
Burnett said Qapco’s LLDPE production would be destined for Africa and Asia, with some sold in Gulf and Europe. “The LLDPE film market is pretty good for us in Africa,” he added.
Canfield also revealed that the Ras Laffan cracker is only running at 45-50% capacity utilisation at present due to delays in the completion of the Q-Chem II project, owned by Chevron Phillips Chemical (49%) and Qatar Petroleum (51%).
This project is now scheduled for completion in the second or third quarter. This has capacity of 350,000 tonnes/year of high density polyethylene (HDPE) and 350,000 tonnes/year of linear alpha olefins.
Out of the cracker’s 1.3m tonnes/year capacity, 700,000 tonnes/year is allocated to Q-Chem II and 600,000 to Qatofin, Burnett said.
Ras Laffan was constructed using technology from France's Technip.
Ras Laffan is 53% owned by Q-Chem, a joint venture between US group Chevron Phillips Chemical and state-owned Qatar Petroleum.
A 46% stake is owned by Qatofin. Qatar Petroleum owns a 1% stake directly.
ICIS has launched weekly pricing reports in Africa for polyethylene and polypropylene. For more information contact Nadine Spoeri
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