Speculation continues over status of Repsol Tarragona cracker

Author: Nel Weddle

2014/06/12

DUSSELDORF, Germany (ICIS)--Repsol’s cracker in Tarragona, Spain, has been experiencing furnace issues, according to European olefins sources on Thursday.

There has been much speculation amongst market players over the status of the cracker which has the capacity to produce 702,000 tonnes/year ethylene over the past few weeks and especially so over the course of the last week and a half.

Several sources said they had been asked for prompt ethylene for delivery into Tarragona and one source said it had “redirected an ethylene cargo to Tarragona” at short notice.

Other sources on the upstream market said that they [Repsol] were “exporting more feedstock from Cartaghena refinery which typically feeds  the cracker.”

One upstream source said that Repsol was “diverting at least 60,000 tonnes of naphtha away from the cracker” in June.

These factors all suggest some effort to cover a shortfall in ethylene supply.

Despite a statement from a Repsol spokesperson on 3 June that the cracker was running normally, sources have mentioned that several furnaces – almost half, according to a couple of players – actually were offline on 3 June with the result that the operating rate of the cracker was severely reduced.

The company has not yet responded to a request on 10 June for further information.

There was some suggestion that full capacity would be restored after the 14-15 June weekend at the earliest, but one source said that it did not expect full capacity to be reached for at least another four weeks.

Ethylene supply in the already structurally short Mediterranean region is currently tight given the ongoing planned outage at Versalis’ Porto Marghera, Italy cracker and the impending shutdown of Petkim’s Aliaga, Turkey cracker.

Follow Nel on Twitter