BPRP starts No 4 cracker turnaround at Gelsenkirchen

15 September 2010 11:53  [Source: ICIS news]

BPRP refinery siteLONDON (ICIS)--A planned six to seven week maintenance turnaround is underway at BP Refining & Petrochemicals’ (BPRP) No 4 cracker at Gelsenkirchen, Germany, a company source said on Wednesday.

The cracker, which has the capacity to produce 525,000 tonnes/year of ethylene and 260,000 tonnes/year of propylene, according to ICIS data, is one of two owned and operated by BPRP at the site.

It had started to ramp down operations last week and was one of a number of other European crackers which were down for maintenance in the September-October time frame.

Polimeri Europa’s cracker at Dunkirk in France went down over two weeks ago and was expected to be restarted late October, early November.

The Fina Antwerp Olefins (FAO) Total/ExxonMobil joint venture NC2 cracker at Antwerp in Belgium was reported by sources to be offline for maintenance, but this was unconfirmed.

Similarly, reports of an extension to planned maintenance at INEOS’ KG cracker in Grangemouth, UK, and a partial maintenance shutdown at its No 5 cracker in Cologne, Germany, were not confirmed.

The shutdowns appeared to have done little to change the ethylene and propylene balances in Europe. This was because some maintenance turnarounds were also underway at several downstream units, sources said.

Ethylene in Europe was fairly balanced, according to market sources. Supply tightness which had been a feature of the market last month because of unplanned production issues had now dissipated. Demand was healthy and contractual offtake good.

Spot prices on the pipeline were being pegged at, or just under, the September contract value of €950/tonne ($1,234/tonne) FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe).

Propylene was altogether a different story. Some sources talked of an increasingly lengthy market. Players’ systems were full. Suppliers said that contractual offtake was reasonable, but any attempt to push additional material out to customers, either failed or was subject to softening spot price levels.

“We are being confronted with [bids of] €900/tonne” said a producer.

This was €15-30/tonne lower than spot numbers discussed last week. The September contract price had settled at €930/tonne FD NWE, down by €10/tonne from August.

($1 = €0.77)

For more on ethylene and propylene visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Nel Weddle
+44 20 8652 3214

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