Maintenance starts at INEOS's EO/MEG Antwerp plant

18 March 2011 20:58  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--INEOS’s planned maintenance is due to start at its Antwerp ethylene oxide (EO)/monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant in Belgium late on 18 March, a company source said.

The Antwerp unit is expected to be off line for a few weeks, the source added.

The Antwerp maintenance turnaround would be followed by the planned outage at the company’s EO/MEG facility at Cologne, Germany, which is expected to take place in June and last for a similar duration.

The Antwerp facility has a nameplate capacity of 420,000 tonnes/year for EO and 340,000 tonnes/year for MEG, according to the ICIS plants and projects database, while the Cologne facility has a nameplate capacity of 290,000 tonnes/year for EO and 175,000 tonnes/year for MEG.

In other news, Shell Chemicals’ routine maintenance at its loading facilities at Moerdjik, the Netherlands, is about to imminently start, a company source said. EO/MEG production at the site is not expected to be affected during the outage period. Nameplate capacities were 305,000 tonnes/year for EO and 155,000 tonnes/year for MEG, according the company website.

European EO supply remains restricted, caused by a spate of planned maintenance turnarounds over the next few months, coupled with buoyant demand. Contractual volumes were sufficiently covered, although additional coverage was proving challenging, if not impossible to obtain. Premiums were pegged at €50-100/tonne ($70-140/tonne) over the formula level increase in March.

EO contract prices were assessed in March between €1,293-1,420/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) and €1,333-1,480/tonne FD Med (Mediterranean). This represented increases of €49-99/tonne, taking into account the formula move and larger hikes for freely negotiated/spot volumes, due to scarcity of product.

For MEG, the consensus was that the spot-bulk sector was quiet, with sources saying they were adopting a wait-and-see position. Following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and increasing turmoil in Africa and the Middle East, the market was unsure what lay ahead.

Some reported a glut of available MEG in stock. Most, though, said there was sufficient material in the market to support current demand, and the weaker US dollar against the euro was creating import opportunities. This, coupled with some lower prices in the truck market, pointed to lower spot-bulk prices coming to the fore. However, suppliers remained bullish, citing the shutdown season and improved demand from the PET sector.

MEG spot prices were mostly quoted between €930-960/tonne CIF (cost, insurance and freight) NWE. The MEG contract for March was finalised at €1,130/tonne FD NWE, up €60/tonne compared with February.

Additional reporting by Caroline Murray

($1 = €0.71)

By: Heidi Finch
+44 20 8652 3214

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