NPRA ’11: Cumene availability remains tight in US

27 March 2011 16:47  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--Cumene availability remains exceptionally tight in the US, as the plant maintenance schedule continued to hold overall capacity rates at reduced levels, a trader said on Sunday.

US cumene sellers CITGO, Flint Hills Resources and Georgia Gulf have scheduled turnarounds during the first half of the year, leaving the US market extremely tight, limiting exports, and reducing downstream phenol rates.

“The CITGO facility, which started its turnaround in January, is close to full rates after some delays in restarting. Flint Hills is expected to restart in midweek, on schedule. Georgia Gulf is due to begin maintenance in early April,” a trader said on the the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC).

Several cargoes were fixed from Japan to the US Gulf earlier in the year for arrival during the plant maintenance season, and all were shipped prior to the earthquake disaster.

“Otherwise, there is no spot material readily available to ease the current tightness,” the trader said.

In addition, feedstock refinery-grade propylene (RGP) availability continued to cause headaches for producers.

Some fluid catalytic cracker (FCC units), from which RGP is derived, are having operating problems.

An FCC problem at Sunoco’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania refinery impacted cumene supply, forcing Sunoco to declare force majeure (FM) on phenol and alpha-methyl styrene (AMS) earlier this month. 

Blue Island Phenol, CITGO, Dow Chemical, Flint Hills Resources, Georgia Gulf, INEOS, Marathon and Shell are among the cumene producers in the US.

Hosted by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), the IPC continues through Tuesday.

For more on cumene visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Heather McGuire Doyle
+1 713 525 2653

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