Japan's Showa Denko shuts Oita etac plant on ethylene shortage

28 March 2012 03:31  [Source: ICIS news]

MELBOURNE (ICIS)--Japan’s Showa Denko has shut its joint-venture 100,000 tonne/year ethyl acetate (etac) plant in Oita because of feedstock supply issues linked to the extended outage of its cracker, market sources said on Wednesday.

The etac unit, which is operated under Japan Ethyl Acetate, is 55% owned by Showa Denko and 45% owned by Kyowa Hakko Chemical.

The plant was brought off line “around mid-March” because of a shortage of feedstock ethylene supply, the sources said.

A Showa Denko company source said on 22 March that it may push back the restart of its 690,000 tonne/year naphtha cracker in Oita.

Showa Denko had shut one of two lines at the cracker on 4 March for maintenance. The No 1 line was initially slated to resume operations on 31 March.

The No 2 line was also shut for the same reason on 13 March and was originally supposed to come back on line on 23 March.

There is no firm date for a restart of the etac plant, the market sources said.

“It’s probably too early to assess the impact [of the Showa Denko etac plant outage], but certainly there will be some impact,” a market source said.

“We hear that some etac end-users have approached another Japanese producer for etac supply, as they don’t want to risk running out of inventories,” the source added.

“As a result of the [Showa Denko] outage, the etac supply/demand balance in Japan is now getting tighter,” another market source said.

Japan, which consumes about 250,000 tonnes/year of etac, is a net importer of the solvent acetate. Most of the country’s etac imports are supplied by China.

In addition to the Oita facility, Showa Denko operates a 50,000 tonne/year etac plant at Merak in Indonesia.

In 2010, Showa Denko closed down its 150,000 tonne/year etac plant at Tokuyama in Yamaguchi prefecture because of the business climate in Japan, a company source said at the time.

By: Trisha Huang

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