07 March 2013 04:26 [Source: ICIS news]
SINGAPORE (ICIS)--South Korea’s SK Global Chemical has ramped up the operations at both its toluene disproportionation (TDP) units at Ulsan in March, because of improved economics, a company source said on Thursday.
The two TDP units has a nameplate capacity of 6,000 bbl/day and 27,000 bbl/day respectively, the source said.
“The spread is wider now … [so] it is time to ramp up,” a second company source said.
Asian TDP makers’ production margins have been under pressure throughout 2012. The spread between feedstock toluene and benzene prices was still at below $100/tonne in the second half of 2012, despite improving from the negative spreads in the early half of the year.
At noon on 7 March 2013, toluene prices were at $1,210-1,230/tonne FOB (free on board) Korea, down by $140-150/tonne compared with benzene prices at $1,360-1,370/tonne FOB Korea, ICIS data showed.
A spread of mid-$100s/tonne has been prevailing since the previous week, as market players expect regional TDP producers to ramp up their plant operating rates.
An estimated spread of more than $100/tonne between toluene and benzene prices is needed to cover TDP production costs, market players said.Other South Korean aromatics producers include GS Caltex, Lotte Chemical, S-Oil and Samsung Total.
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