China’s Jiangsu Sopo shuts acetic acid, etac plant for brief period

12 September 2012 07:39  [Source: ICIS news]

(recasts for clarity)

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s Jiangsu Sopo shut its acetic acid and downstream ethyl acetate plants in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, late on 11 September following a problem in its air separation unit, a company official said on Wednesday.

“The acetic acid and ethyl acetate plants were shut last night,” he said, adding that the outage was expected to last until 14 or 15 September.

The company operates two acetic acid plants with combined capacities of 1m tonnes/year. It also operates a 500,000 tonne/year ethyl acetate (etac) plant as well as a 500,000 tonne/year feedstock methanol plant at the same location in Zhenjiang.

Jiangsu Sopo’s third and smallest acetic acid plant in Zhenjiang with a 200,000 tonne/year capacity has been idle since April 2011.

“Our production hasn’t been smooth this year,” he said.

Approximately 4,000 to 5,000 tonnes of acetic acid output was expected to be lost during the current outage, the official added.

Domestic ex-tank prices for acetic acid in eastern China resultantly rose by yuan (CNY) 100/tonne ($16/tonne) on the week to around CNY3,100/tonne on Wednesday, sources said.

Prior to the shutdown, Jiangsu Sopo was running the etac plant at below 50% capacity, the source said.

Jiangsu Sopo raised its offers of etac by yuan (CNY) 100/tonne ($16/tonne) to CNY6,600-6,700/tonne EXW(ex-works) on 11 September. It plans to keep its offers of etac firm, following the plant’s shutdown, according to the source.

The shutdown may have minimal impact on the domestic etac market, as most of the plant’s output is typically meant for exports, a market player said.

Furthermore, Jiangsu Sopo does not offer its spot cargoes for domestic trade because of the low buying ideas in China, the market player added.

Prices of etac in the Chinese domestic market remained firm for the past two weeks, because of high production costs and improving demand, a separate market player said.

Spot prices of etac were assessed at CNY6,350-6,500/tonne EXW in east China on 12 September, according to data from Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

Major acetic acid producers in China include Celanese, BP YPC Acetyls Co (Byaco), Shanghai Wujing Chemical, Henan Shunda and Yankuang Cathay.

Additional reporting by Helen Lee

($1 = CNY6.34)

By: Elisa Fu
+65 6780 4327

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