UpdateShell Singapore's 800,000 tonne/year cracker suffers outage

04 August 2010 10:08  [Source: ICIS news]

(adds possible restart date of cracker, with recasts throughout)

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Energy giant Shell’s new 800,000 tonne/year mixed-feed cracker in Singapore suffered an outage and was shut on Tuesday evening, market sources said on Wednesday.

“The flare system at Shell's Pulau Bukom manufacturing site was activated in the afternoon of 3 August 2010 due to an unplanned disruption to a process unit,” said a Shell spokesperson, in an e-mailed reply to ICIS.

“The rest of the operations [were] not affected,” said the spokesperson, without elaborating on the current status of the cracker.

Commissioned in March, the cracker - an integral part of Shell Eastern Petrochemicals Complex (SEPC) - could also produce 450,000 tonnes/year of propylene and 230,000 tonnes/year of benzene.

“The cracker tripped yesterday. Maybe it will go up in the next 24-48 hours,” said a market source.

Ethylene prices climbed up $20/tonne ($15/tonne) to $870-900/tonne CFR (cost and freight) NE Asia on Tuesday’s close, matching prices of between $880-900/tonne CFR NE Asia four weeks ago, ICIS data showed.

But the price movement had more to do with strong crude and naphtha values, rather than the outage at Shell’s Singapore cracker, said another market source.

The new cracker has been running at around 80% of capacity since it was started up because of some unidentified issues, market sources said.

SEPC is Shell’s largest fully integrated refinery and petrochemicals hub.

The olefins and aromatics products from the cracker would be used primarily for Shells downstream chemical plants in Jurong Island, including the Shell mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) plant. Its 750,000 tonne/year MEG plant in Singapore opened in December 2009.

($1 = €0.76)

With additional reporting by Mahua Chakravarty, Aaron Cheong, Peh Soo Hwee and Pearl Bantillo

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By: Felicia Loo

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