Formosa’s Mailiao complex hit by protests; petchem ops unhampered

17 August 2010 05:54  [Source: ICIS news]

By Chow Bee Lin

Formosa Mailiao complexSINGAPORE (ICIS)--Local residents trooped to Formosa’s Mailiao petrochemical complex in Linyuan County, Taiwan on Tuesday to demand bigger compensation for alleged environmental damage caused by recent fires at the company’s upstream facilities.

Two separate fire incidents shut the company's 700,000 tonne/year No 1 naphtha cracker on 7 July and disrupted operations at its 540,000 bbl/day refinery, along with a number of downstream units at the site, on 25 July.

Formosa, which is among the largest cracker operators in Asia, was amenable to paying residents’ damage claims, but set the overall payout cap at New Taiwan dollars (NT$) 500m ($15.6m), a company source said.

“The residents are trying to block the roads leading up to the plants, and are asking for a compensation of NT$50,000 for each resident,” said a source at Formosa on Tuesday.

Mailiao, a township in Taiwan’s northwestern county of Yunlin, has more than 30,000 residents.

“The compensations sought have to be reasonable and losses must be proven in order to make a case. The amount of compensation they’re asking for is unreasonable,” the Formosa source said.

Production at Formosa’s petrochemical plants within the complex was not affected, based on separate checks on the polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and aromatics plants at the site.

The Mailiao complex has PE facilities, consisting of a 350,000 tonne/year high density PE (HDPE) plant, a 264,000 tonne/year linear low density PE (LLDPE) line and a 240,000 tonne/year low density PE/ethylene vinyl acetate (LDPE/EVA) swing unit, operated by Formosa Plastics Corp.

It also houses three PP plants with a combined capacity of 450,000 tonnes/year operated by Formosa Chemicals & Fibers Corp (FCFC).

FCFC, meanwhile, can produce a total of 1.72m tonnes/year of paraxylene (PX) at the Mailiao complex.

“We have yet to experience any problems as a result of the protest,” said another company source.

“There are three routes leading into the Mailiao refinery and petrochemical complex and I think alternative routes can be taken to avoid the protest sites,” he added.

The first source at Formosa said: “The road blockages are illegal and we expect this to be at most a one-day occurrence.”

The PE and PP plants at the site were running at reduced rates due to an on-site shortage of propylene and ethylene feedstock after fires disrupted its upstream operations and had nothing to do with the ongoing protests, he said.

With additional reporting by Prema Viswanathan, Helen Lee and Bohan Loh

($1 =  NT$31.97)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

For more on PE, PP, EVA visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Chow Bee Lin
+65 6780 4359

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