09 December 2011 13:51 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--Repsol’s cracker at Sines, Portugal, has been temporarily shut down because of weak demand, a company spokesperson said on Friday.
Details about the duration of the shutdown or when it began were not disclosed. Previous reports suggested the cracker was running, albeit recently at low rates.
Repsol has two other European crackers at Tarragona and Puertollano, in Spain, which are both thought to be running at reduced operating rates.
Of the three crackers, Sines is the only one not fully-integrated with derivative production and therefore is more likely to have been hit harder by the weak market conditions. Logistical problems and expensive freight costs are also understood to be contributory factors for the idling measures.
Both European propylene and ethylene demand has been lower than expected in the second half of the year because of the underlying economic sentiment, as well as stricter inventory control at year-end.
There is ongoing length in the European system because of low derivative demand, which is not likely to improve until at least the second half of January/February 2012.
While significant cracker cutbacks have already been implemented, some suggest that further cracker rationalisation is necessary in order to counter any further length.
Repsol has a nameplate capacity for ethylene of 415,000 tonnes/year at Sines, 660,000 tonnes/year at Tarragona and 250,000 tonnes/year at Puertollano.
For propylene, the company has the capacity to produce 200,000 tonnes/year at Sines, 125,000 tonnes/year at Puertollano and 290,000 tonnes/year at Tarragona, according to ICIS.
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