NPE ’12: Feedstock shortage limiting Chile’s polymer production

03 April 2012 16:33  [Source: ICIS news]

ORLANDO, Florida (ICIS)--Feedstock shortages will affect Chile’s domestic polyolefins production awhile longer as Enap, the local refiner, continues to have undisclosed technical problems in its refineries, producer sources said on Tuesday.

The statement was heard on the sidelines of the National Plastics Exposition (NPE) at Orlando.

Chilean polyolefin producers have experienced feedstock shortages in past years, but the problems have become more frequent, sources said.

Enap has maintained silence about the cause of the shortages.

Downstream producers attribute the equipment failures to old age of the refining installations, and also to a patchwork approach to breakdown solutions.

Dow Chemical’s 46,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant in Chile has been working at about one-half its capacity in March, and the diminished production will continue for a still unspecified time.

Distributors and transformers have acknowledged the scarcity of LDPE, but have been largely unprepared to cover the shortages with imports because they were initially told that the ethylene production problems would be solved before the end of March.

Chile’s polypropylene (PP) producer, Petroquim, faces shortages of ethylene for copolymers and reduced supply of propylene for all grades.

A Petroquim source estimated PP production will be confined to about 90,000 tonnes/year in 2012, although the plant has a much larger nominal capacity.

The maximum production reached at the plant has been 118,000 tonnes/year, although nominal capacity exceeds 130,000 tonnes/year, the source said.

The shortages will be alleviated with imports, which are likely to play a bigger role in Chile this year.

The four-day NPE event is sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) and runs through Thursday.

($1 = €0.75)

By: George Martin
+1 713 525 2653

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