Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals may buy MIBK to meet supply contracts

24 April 2012 04:06  [Source: ICIS news]

MELBOURNE (ICIS)--Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals may purchase methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) to meet its sales commitments after a blast forced the company to shut all its plants at Iwakuni-Ohtake Works in Yamaguchi prefecture, a company official said on Tuesday. 

The company, which is Japan’s biggest MIBK maker, shut its MIBK plant and all other facilities at the site following the blast at a resorcinol plant on Sunday.

“We plan to buy MIBK from other Japanese producers to meet our sales contracts,” the official said. “If the other Japanese makers don’t have sufficient quantities, we may approach other producers in Asia.”

However, Japan’s MIBK inventory is “low” because of recent and upcoming maintenance plans by the other two producers in Japan, the official added.

Two MIBK manufacturers in Asia said they have received purchase enquiries from Mitsui Chemicals.  

Mitsui Chemicals has cancelled three to four cargoes which it had planned to ship to China in April and May, the official said.  

The company has a total nameplate capacity of 30,000 tonnes/year.

Several MIBK market participants said they expect MIBK prices to strengthen further because Mitsui Chemicals is a regular exporter of the product to China and southeast Asia.

MIBK prices have risen by 21.3% this year to close at an average of $1,935/tonne (€1,471/tonne) CFR (cost & freight) China for the week ended 17 April because of tight supply in the key Chinese market, according to ICIS.

Distributors in China stopped offering product on 23 April because of Mitsui Chemicals’ plant shutdown, traders in China said.  

The other MIBK producers in Japan are Mitsubishi Chemical and KH Neochem (formerly Kyowa Hakko).

Mitsubishi Chemical plans to take its 20,000 tonne/year plant at Mizushima off line for 35-40 days of maintenance in early June.

KH Neochem plans to resume operations at its 15,000 tonne/year MIBK plant at Yokkaichi in Mie prefecture this week, following a scheduled overhaul.

MIBK, which is derived from acetone, is used as a solvent for industrial paints and thinners, and to produce rubber chemicals.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Trisha Huang

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