Price and market trends: Idemitsu Kosan shuts Tokuyama refinery, chemical plants

24 March 2014 00:00 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

Idemitsu Kosan shut its 120,000 bbl/day oil refinery, 600,000 tonne/year naphtha cracker and associated petrochemical units in Tokuyama on 14 March following a strong earthquake that rattled western Japan, a company source said.

Internal checks are being carried out on the facilities, but no announcement has been made as to when the facilities will restart, the source said.

The other petrochemical units at Tokuyama site that have been shut down include a 340,000 tonne/year styrene monomer (SM) plant; a benzene unit with a capacity of around 200,000 tonnes/year; and a 214,000 tonne/year paraxylene (PX) unit, the source said.

An earthquake of 6.3 magnitude struck off Japan’s southern island of Kyushu near the city of Oita, according to the US Geological Survey.

At least 17 people suffered minor injuries as the powerful offshore earthquake hit several prefectures in western Japan at around 2:06 local time (17:05 GMT), based on local media reports.

Idemitsu Kosan’s refining facilities at Tokuyama comprise a 120,000 bbl/day crude distillation unit (CDU); a 55,000 bbl/day vacuum distillation unit; a 26,000 bbl/day fluidized catalytic cracker (FCC); and a 20,000 bbl/day naphtha reformer.

The company plans to permanently shut down the 120,000 bbl/day Tokuyama refinery at the end of March 2014 as the refinery site will be converted to an oil products terminal. But petrochemicals operations will continue at the site, the company source said.

Reduced domestic demand and falling population in Japan have been forcing the closure of a number of refineries in the country.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) have pressured domestic refiners to either upgrade their facilities or shut them down amid concerns over overcapacity and competition from new refineries in India and China.

By James Dennis