Japan's Maruzen Petrochemical to restart Chiba MEK plant in April

16 March 2012 10:23  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan's Maruzen Petrochemical plans to begin trial production at its newly repaired 170,000 tonne/year methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) plant at Chiba in early April, about a year after a strong earthquake caused extensive damage to the plant, a source close to the company said on Friday.

"Reconstruction of the plant's damaged parts are proceeding smoothly and the company expects the project to complete at the end of March,'' the source said.

The facility, which is Asia’s largest MEK plant, is likely to operate at below 50% of capacity in the initial month of operation after more than a year of shutdown, he said.

“The company wants to operate the plant carefully to avoid putting too much strain on the newly replaced parts,” he said.  

The run rates will remain low in May and June as a turnaround at the company's 520,000 tonne/year cracker will tighten the supply of feedstock butene, market sources said.

The cracker is scheduled to go off line in early May for about six weeks.

Some MEK buyers said the company may resume exports by the end of May although this will depend on whether the plant can restart smoothly next month.

By: Yeow Pei Lin

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