By Huan Shi
SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China caprolactam (capro) output in April stood at 93,529 tonnes – the lowest monthly production volume recorded in about a year because of weak downstream demand and plant shutdowns, industry sources said late on Tuesday.
Compared with the same period last year, the country’s capro production last month increased 2% but was at its lowest since May 2013, according to Chemease, an ICIS service in China.
Month-on-month decline was 21.6%, which is steepest fall in capro output recorded in two years, the data showed.
China has a capro capacity of 151,300 tonnes/month. In April, the average utilisation of capro plants stood at 62%, down 17 percentage points compared with the previous month, primarily because of the turnaround season, Chemease data showed.
Five Chinese producers - namely Shandong Luxi, Jiangsu Haili, Shandong Haili, DSM Nanjing Oriental, and Shijiazhuang Refining & Chemical Co - have scheduled turnarounds at their capro facilities between March and June. (Please see table below)
The resulting shortage of capro supply in the domestic market prompted major producer Sinopec to hike its capro list price three times last month, with the April price settled at yuan (CNY) 16,550/tonne ($2,657/tonne), a company source said.
For May, Sinopec also raised its capro list price to CNY17,000/tonne on Wednesday from the initial CNY16,800/tonne, the source said.
Capro is an intermediate product that is primarily used in the production of nylon 6 fibres, plastics and other polymeric materials.
Shutdown schedule of China capro plants in March-June
|Company||Total capro capacity (tonnes/year)||Location||Shut capacity and duration of maintenance|
|Shandong Haili||200,000||Shandong||100,000 tonne/year line (28 Mar upto present)|
|Jiangsu Haili||200,000||Jiangsu||100,000 tonne/year line (28 Mar upto present)|
|DSM Nanjing||400,000||Nanjing||200,000 tonne/year line shut (1 March-20 Apr)|
|Shijiazhuang Refining &Chemical||165,000||Shijiazhuang||whole plant (1 Apr- 30 Jun)|
|Shandong Luxi||100,000||Shandong||whole plant (12 Apr-27 Apr)|
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