My colleague Bob Townsend is well known to many in the chemical industry as an olefins expert. He has pointed out today’s most unusual situation in olefins.
Normally, an unplanned outage by one or more crackers would cause major disruption. Yet today, 10 European crackers are down, for technical or other reasons, and many others are operating close to technical minimums.
Those offline include the Wilton and Moerdijk crackers (both technical), with planned maintenance ongoing at Repsol’s Tarragona and FAO’s NC1 cracker in Antwerp (and speculation another NC Antwerp cracker may also be offline). Munchmunster, Litvinov, Notre Dame de Gravenchon and Pitesti are also all reportedly offline. Priolo is due back after maintenance, whilst the Carling No 2 closure has been announced.
Other regions, notably Asia and N America are also seeing similar shutdowns. Yet Bob notes that butadiene is the only product where even minor shortages have been seen. This tells its own story about the massive clearance of inventory now underway down the value chain.