Maruzen completes Chiba, Japan butylenes shipping facility

14 October 2011 15:00  [Source: ICIS news]

TOKYO (ICIS)--Maruzen Petrochemical’s completion of its butylenes (C4) shipping facility at Chiba will allow the Japanese producer to operate its naphtha cracker at the same site at full rates, a company source said on Friday.

Completion of the facility, in the middle of September, enables the company sell C4 raffinate 1 instead of recycling it as a feedstock for ethylene. Raffinate 1 is a C4 fraction that is produced from cracking naphtha.

Maruzen Petrochemical is planning to increase the operating rate at its 520,000 tonne/year naphtha cracker to 90% into the later half of the fiscal year ending March 2012, according to the source.

The producer is currently running the cracker at 85-90% capacity, the source added.

“Now that the facility has been completed, we can operate the cracker at full rate,” the source said. “However, the economy is in a bad condition, so the operating rate [of the cracker] is [low],” the source added.

The producer normally uses raffinate 1 as a feedstock for methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), according to the source.

However, Maruzen has been co-cracking it with naphtha since it shut its 170,000 tonne/year MEK plant in Chiba, which was damaged by the 11 March earthquake in northeast Japan.

The shutdown at the MEK plant led the company to the lower operating rates at the cracker, the source said.

Maruzen will not need to use raffinate 1 as a feedstock for naphtha cracking when it starts selling it to the market, the source said.

The source added that this will boost the company’s production efficiency and enable it to produce ethylene at the cracker by operating it at 100% capacity.

In addition, the completion of the shipping facility will create a better balance of the fractions from naphtha cracking that are used as fuels.

Maruzen will resume using raffinate 1 as a feedstock for MEK when the firm restarts the MEK unit, following scheduled maintenance at its cracker in May-June 2012, the source said.

The company is planning to bring the cracker’s operating rate to full capacity at around the same time as the restart at its MEK unit, the source added.

However, this will depend on the condition of the Asia ethylene market, the source said. 

“We would not be able to [bring the rate to full capacity] if we are unable to sell ethylene at a high price,” the source said.

For more on ethylene, visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Tomomi Yokomura
+65 6780 4359

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