Asia naphtha cracker rates 'soon to be affected by Middle East'

28 October 2010 13:14  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian naphtha cracker operators could be forced to slow down their run rates and may bottom out next year or in 2012 as new facilities in the Middle East increase production, an industry executive said on Thursday.

However, the shortage of ethane feedstock in the Middle East would ensure that the trough would not last for long, Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore's Stan Park said.

Most cracker operators in Asia were running at 95% to 100% this year on the back of surging demand from the region, as many facilities in the Middle East were not running at their nameplate capacity, the deputy managing director added.

Ethylene crackers are doing much better this year than last year,” Park said.

“But obviously due to the excess refining capacity, the naphtha cracks in this region [Asia-Pacific] may not stay so healthy in the future going forward because petchem players are also looking at alternative feedstock such as LPG [liquefied petroleum gas],” he added.

Apart from naphtha, industry players should look into exploiting their C4 streams as they could also be used to make propylene and highly-valued butene-1, Park said.

Off-spec streams such as gasoil could also be cracked to maximise refining margins, he added.

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By: Nurluqman Suratman

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