Japan's MMA producers unaffected by quake, fear delivery issues

14 March 2011 04:37  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan's methyl methacrylate (MMA) plants are running at normal rates following the earthquake that struck the northeast coast on 11 March, producers said on Monday.

All of Japan’s MMA plants are located in the western part of the country and hence, were not affected by the earthquake, industry sources said.

The nearest plant to the epicentre was Asahi Kasei’s 100,000 tonne/year acetone cyanohydrin (ACH)-based MMA plant at Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture.

"At the moment, the Kawasaki plant is still running at normal rates," a company source said.

"We will supply our export volumes as usual, as our main storage tank is in Kobe, which is currently unaffected by the earthquake," the source added.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Rayon Co (MRC), Asia's largest MMA producer with a capacity of 217,000 tonnes/year, said it had not disrupted production following the quake.

However, a company source cited worries over logistics and raw materials supply.

The company source said: "We might have difficulties delivering MMA to our domestic customers in northern and eastern part of Japan."

"It’s only few days since the earthquake, we are still checking with our customers and distributors," he added.

As for exports, "there might be logistics issues too, given that some ports might be damaged", he said.

Butane-based producers generally get raw materials from suppliers based in Chiba, which was affected by the earthquake.

With the possibility of raw material shortages, butane-based producers may be forced to run at lower rates in the short-term, industry sources said. Japan has a total MMA production capacity of 554,000 tonnes per annum.

"Given the chaotic situation in Japan now, we still need time to monitor the situation, before we can gauge the impact [of the earthquake] on the market," said the company source from MRC.

The 8.9-magnitude quake struck Japan’s northeast coast at 14:46 (05:46GMT), some 373 km (231 miles) northeast of Tokyo, and 130km east of Sendai in Honshu, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). Japan’s Meteorological Agency has upgraded the magnitude of the earthquake to 9.0.

For more on MMA, visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Junie Lin

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