Weak demand forces Spain's Repsol to idle Sines, Portugal cracker

11 December 2012 16:55  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Weak demand has forced Spanish oil and gas firm Repsol to idle units at its petrochemical complex in Sines, Portugal, market sources said on Tuesday.

Sources said, citing local press reports, that Repsol would temporarily shut its 45,000 tonne/year butadiene (BD) unit, ethylene cracker and low and high density polyethylene (PE) units in December.

A Repsol spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

A similar market situation forced the temporary shut down of the cracker in December 2011, restarting only in the second half of January when demand had improved.

Repsol has two other European crackers in Tarragona and Puertollano, in Spain. Of the three crackers, Sines is the only one not fully-integrated with derivative production and therefore is more likely to have been hit harder by the weak market conditions.

European market conditions have been poor in the second half of 2012, hit hard by macroeconomic concerns and the eurozone debt crisis. European crackers have averaged a utilisation rate of around 80% - currently 75-80% - because demand has been limited to hand-to-mouth activities.

Repsol has a nameplate capacity for ethylene of 415,000 tonnes/year at Sines, 660,000 tonnes/year at Tarragona and 250,000 tonnes/year at Puertollano.

For propylene, the company has the capacity to produce 200,000 tonnes/year at Sines, 125,000 tonnes/year at Puertollano and 290,000 tonnes/year at Tarragona, according to ICIS.

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($1 = €0.77)

By: Nel Weddle
+44 20 8652 3214

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