FocusTight Asia SM supply to ease as plant turnarounds end in Sept

30 August 2011 08:01  [Source: ICIS news]

A polystyrene cup - one of the downstream applications of styrene monomer.By Clive Ong

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s tight supply of styrene monomer (SM) in Asia may ease in September, with a number of regional facilities coming back on stream following turnarounds and, in the case of some plants, outages, market players said on Tuesday.

SM buyers expect spot prices to slip next month on increased supply of the material, and with demand for downstream plastic resins usually waning towards the second half of September, as the seasonal peak in the Chinese manufacturing season for exports draws to a close.

Limited availability of spot cargoes throughout August helped prop up SM prices at an average of around $1,510/tonne (€1,042/tonne) in August, against a backdrop of widely fluctuating crude prices, according to ICIS. Crude prices traded at a wide range of $76-87/bbl in August.

Spot inventories along the eastern Chinese shore tanks were at 50,000-60,000 tonnes in August, compared to 70,000-85,0000 tonnes in July, market sources said.

“[SM] supply in the region would most likely improve in September as some SM plants will come back on stream”, said a Korean trader.

Shanghai Secco Petrochemical’s 500,000 tonne/year SM unit in eastern China was restarted in late August after a maintenance that started on 1 August.

Elsewhere in China, Dushanzhi Petrochemical’s 320,000 tonne/year SM unit and Yanshan Petrochemical’s 80,000 tonne/year SM unit are due to resume production in late September.

Meanwhile, Zhenhai Lyondell Chemical’s 620,000 tonne/year SM plant restarted on 29 August after suffering an outage on 26 August because of technical problems, market sources said.

Taiwan Styrene Monomer Corp’s 180,000 tonne/year No 1 line in Lin Yuan  is expected to restart production in mid-September. Mechanical problems shut the plant in late July, market sources said.

Meanwhile, Formosa Chemical and Fibre Corp’s 250,000 tonne/year No 1 unit and its 350,000 tonne/year No 2 unit in Mailiao have remained shut since mid-May, following a fire incident that hit the petrochemical complex of the Formosa group.

Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore completed the maintenance at the plants, including a 330,000 tonne/year SM unit, at its Seraya complex in Singapore on 25 August.

Meanwhile, Ellba Eastern Chemical’s 550,000 tonne/year SM plant at Jurong Island in Singapore has no definite restart date after shutting down for repairs on 20-21 August, market sources said.

SM is a liquid chemical used to make plastic resins like polystyrene (PS) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), as well as synthetic rubbers.

($1 = 0.69)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

By: Clive Ong
+65 6780 4359

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