Japan Mitsui Chem's TDI unit in Kashima remains shut after quake

15 March 2011 10:02  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan's Mitsui Chemicals has kept its 120,000 tonne/year toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) facility in Kashima shut following the massive earthquake that hit the country’s northeast on 11 March, a company source said on Tuesday.

“The TDI plant was shutdown automatically when the earthquake happened, and no parts of the facility were destroyed by the quake,” the source said.

He added that the company did not know when the plant could be restarted, which could affect the plant’s annual turnaround scheduled for the second quarter.

The company’s second 120,000 tonne/year TDI unit in Ohmuta was not affected by the earthquake. Meanwhile, its 60,000 tonne/year MDI facility at the same site was operating close to full tilt.

One of Kashima’s ports was flooded by the tsunami that was triggered by the earthquake. Officials were still investigating the extent of destruction and the port was temporarily shut, halting transportation of chemicals from Kashima.

“From what we understand, the port was badly damaged. It will take a long period of time to restore the port back into operations,” the source said.

“Neither our imported raw material could not enter Kashima nor our upstream feedstocks could be obtained from the Kashima petrochemical site due to the different extents of destruction in the facilities,” he said.

In addition, land transportation in and around Kashima was disrupted, which hampered supply of TDI material to local customers. Mitsui Chemicals had restored supply via its Ohmuta unit, to ensure local requirements were covered. Exports to China and the rest of the world would be cut significantly as a result, the source said.

“There are ongoing aftershocks in every few hours. All our workers at the Kashima site have been evacuated to safety and no causalities were reported,” he said.

News of the outage has forced players to retreat from the Asian market. Suppliers in particular have halted business on expectations that the market would tighten in the absence of Mitsui Chemicals, one of the key exporters.

“No offers are heard [in Hong Kong, key spot market in China],” a Hong Kong-based trader said.

“We are worried for the April supply,” an Indonesia-based distributor said.

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By: Ong Sheau Ling
+65 6780 4359

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