UpdatePower outage hits South Korea’s Ulsan petrochemical hub

06 December 2011 08:31  [Source: ICIS news]

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SINGAPORE (ICIS)--A power failure halted production at some petrochemical facilities at Ulsan, South Korea, including SK Energy’s two crackers with a combined capacity of 880,000 tonnes/year, industry sources said on Tuesday.

A spokesperson from SK Energy confirmed the shutdown of the company’s 190,000 tonne/year No 1 cracker and 690,000 tonne/year No 2 cracker at the site.

“We [will] try hard to restore [production] as soon as possible,” said Wookyung Kim at SK Energy’s public relations department, in an e-mailed statement.

At around 5:00 GMT, a 10-minute disruption to power supply occurred at Ulsan, said Kim, quoting information from Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO).

KP Chemical also halted operations at its 200,000 tonne/year No 1 purified isophthalic acid (PIA) unit and its 600,000 tonne/year No 2 purified terephthalic acid plant that are located at Ulsan, said a company source.

The company also had to reduce operating rates at its 350,000 tonne/year PTA plant at the site, said the source.

KP Chemical, however, continues to run its aromatics facilities at the site that can produce 775,000 tonne/year of paraxylene (PX) and 230,000 tonnes/year of orthoxylene (OX), said another company source.

But there are concerns about a possible shortage of feedstock that might arise with the shutdown of SK Energy’s crackers.

No word yet from SK Energy about any reduction on contract volumes, they said.

Among other plants that stopped operations because of the power outage include Samsung BP’s 600,000 tonne/year acetic acid plant and Asia Acetyls Co’s (Asacco) 210,000 tonne/year vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plant.

“Now we are checking the mechanical processes,” said a company source, adding that restart of both plants may take one or two days or possibly longer.

“The downstream units such as purified terephthalic acid (PTA) are also shut therefore there’s no big impact on the acetic acid market yet,” said the source.

Samsung BP Chemicals is a joint venture between Samsung and BP Chemicals, while Asacco is a joint venture between BP, Dow and Samsung.

Samsung also had to shut down its 200,000 tonnes/year PTA No 1 and 450,000 tonnes/year No 2 PTA unit as a result of the power outage, a company source said.

The company expects the outage to last no longer than two days, the source added.

Another PTA producer Hyosung Petrochemical shut its 420,000 tonnes/plant unit in Ulsan because of the power outage, a company source said.

“We are in the process of restarting,” the source added.

Additional reporting by Samuel Wong, Helen Lee, Felicia Loo, Quintella Koh, Chow Bee Lin, Mahua Chakravarty, Bohan Loh and Becky Zhang

Please visit the complete ICIS plants and projects database

By: Samuel Wong

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