UpdateMajor quake hits Japan, some petchem ops shut for safety

11 March 2011 07:56  [Source: ICIS news]

(adds details, fire at Ichihara complex)

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--A major earthquake struck Japan on early afternoon on Friday, triggering tsunamis, with aftershocks reverberating in parts of the country.

Fire erupted at Ichihara refinery complex after the 8.9-magnitude quake hit Japan, a source from Mitsubishi Chemical said. Television images showed flames leaping out of the complex.

Some of the country's petrochemical operations have shut for safety reasons, market sources said.

JX Nippon Oil and Energy has shut all its paraxylene (PX) units in Kashima and Kawasaki following an 8.9-magnitude quake that hit Japan on Friday afternoon, market sources said.

The Kashima PX facility has a combined nameplate capacity of 600,000 tonnes/year, while the Kawasaki PX facility has a nameplate capacity of 350,000 tonne/year.

Company officials could not be reached for comments at the time of writing.

Tokyo Electric Power Co shut down its 460 megawatts (MW) and 784 MW Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as a result of the earthquake. It also shut its Fukushima Daini 1.1 gegawatts (GW) No 1 to No 4 reactors due to the earthquake. Both the power plants are located in Fukushima prefecture.

“It is a big one this time and quite bad. We don’t know the extent of the damage yet and will have to wait and see. But all petrochemical plants will obviously have to stop operating,” said a trader from Marubeni.

The quake struck the northeast coast of Japan, some 373 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, at a depth of 15.1 miles and located the quake 81 miles east of Sendai, Honshu, according to the US Geological Survey.

JX Energy has a 145,000 bbl/day refinery at Sendai in the Miyagi prefecture where the massive quake occurred.

USGS earlier put the magnitude of the quake at 7.9 but revised it up to 8.9.

Asian benzene prices jumped by $20/tonne (€15/tonne) on Friday afternoon following the news of the earthquake, market sources said.

Benzene prices were hovering at $1,145-1,155/tonne FOB Korea in the afternoon, up $20/tonne from levels seen on Friday morning.

Additional reporting by Pearl Bantillo, Ong Clive, Leslie Tan, Felicia Loo, Mahua Chakravarty, Helen Yan, Bohan Loh, James Dennis and Nurluqman Suratman

By: Tahir Ikram
+65 6780 4359

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