S Korea's GS Caltex shuts aromatics unit for month-long turnaround

22 March 2013 09:44  [Source: ICIS news]

SHANGHAI (ICIS)--South Korea’s aromatics major GS Caltex has shut its Yeosu No 2 aromatics units on 16 March on schedule for a month-long maintenance, a company source said late on Thursday.

The aromatics units include a reformer and a paraxylene (PX) plant, the source said.

The PX facility has a nameplate capacity of 400,000 tonnes/year, while GS Caltex has a total production of 800,000 tonnes/year of benzene at the Yeosu site.

The shutdown has come at a time when benzene and PX prices are volatile.

Prices of spot PX on 20 March declined by $20/tonne (€15/tonne) to $1,495-1,500/tonne CFR (cost & freight) Taiwan/China Main Port (CMP), compared to 18 March, and rebounded by $5/tonne on 21 March to $1,500-1,505/tonne CFR Taiwan/CMP, according to ICIS data.

A clear price direction remains unclear, with market sentiment dragged down by high downstream inventories, according to market sources.

Spot benzene prices in Asia fell to a 23-week low on 19 March, in tandem with the subdued market fundamentals in the US and China.

On 19 March close, spot benzene prices were assessed as $1,250-1,260/tonne (€963-970/tonne) FOB (free on board) Korea for April cargoes and $1,235-1,250/tonne FOB Korea for May parcels, marking a eight successive full-day sessions of price decline, with a total cumulative loss of $85.50/tonne, or 6.4%, according to ICIS.

With a marginal rebound on 21 March, Asian market softened once again at mid-day with prices assessed for May loading at $1,270-1,280/tonne FOB Korea, ICIS reported.

Additional reporting by Samuel Wong

($1 = €0.77)

Author: Ong Sheau Ling

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