21 October 2010 11:34 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--Zaklady Azotowe Kedzierzyn (ZAK) restarted oxo-alcohols production earlier this week, a development that could provide much-needed relief to buyers of 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) in Europe, a company source said on Thursday.
Production at the plant, which is located at Kedzierzyn-Kozle, Poland, and has an annual capacity of roughly 205,000 tonnes, began late on 19 October after a planned restart last weekend was scuppered by technical difficulties.
The company is currently ramping up production and hopes to bring it to full capacity as early as 22 October, the source said.
“We believe that tomorrow (22 October) we will approach full capacity,” said the source. “I keep my fingers crossed that it is ‘game over’ for our problems.”
The plant entered a full shutdown on 8 October to change a catalyst, but it had been experiencing problems since the end of planned maintenance work in July. The reduced capacity and scattered outages forced the company to declare force majeure on all oxo-alcohols products on 19 August.
Since that time, the company’s production has limped along at reduced rates and the force majeure remains in place.
The biggest impact has been on 2-EH, which accounts for roughly 75% of the plant’s output, making the Polish company a major player in the European market for that product.
“The [2-EH] market will feel it after a few days,” said the source, who added that the company's first priority would be to resume regular deliveries to contract customers. “The market should start to balance a little bit.”
The shutdown, along with other issues, most recently Arkema's force majeure due to difficulties related to strike action in France, has pushed prices up and forced at least one downstream producer to close its plant for lack of feedstock.
Spot 2-EH prices are currently pegged at €1,340-1,385/tonne ($1,861-1,924/tonne) FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe).
The company said it could lift its force majeure as early as next week, although it said it would wait for production to stabilise at full rates before considering that.
“The force majeure will not be over immediately after one day of full production,” said the company source. “We have to be careful.”
($1 = €0.72)
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