EPCA '19: Cepsa's Algeciras, Spain MA plant to shut down in December

Author: Anne-Sophie Briant-Vaghela

2019/10/11

LONDON (ICIS)--Spain's energy and petrochemicals major Cepsa is to shut its maleic anhydride (MA) plant in Algeciras, Cadiz in December, according to sources.

The plant, which has a capacity of 13,000 tonnes/year, has effectively been producing 6,180 tonnes/year on average in the past 10 years, suffering chronic unplanned outages.

The sources were speaking on the sidelines of the European Petrochemical Associations (EPCA) annual conference.

Production at Cepsa's plant peaked in 2013 at 10,000 tonnes/year, representing 4.3% of the 231,000 tonne/year European overall production.

However, the plant's output staggered at 7,000 tonnes/year since 2015.

In 2019, the plant has again suffered several unplanned outages.

"The news is hardly surprising as we have been seeing the company trying to ramp up production year after year and failing time after time over the past few years," a source said.

CEPSA had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

Europe’s two biggest producers are the most likely to win the lion’s share of the vacated space.

Huntsman's Moers, Germany 105,000 tonne/year plant and Italian producer Polynt-Reichold, with a 104,000 tonnes/year plant, are both to gain from Cepsa's closure.

Both plants are set to benefit from easier transportation links via the Mediterranean or have the proper infrastructure to overcome the longer distances, sources said.

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MA production lines in Europe are currently suffering from lack of investment in new technologies.

Maintenance of the aging production lines is deemed to be increasingly challenging by market participants.

"We expect long unplanned outages to be come more frequent. The question really is when and where next," a source added.

MA is mostly used in the manufacture of unsaturated polyester resins (UPRs) used in the production of boat hulls, bathroom fixtures, automobiles, tanks and pipes. Other outlets include 1,4- butanediol (BDO), tetrahydrofuran (THF) and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL).

The EPCA annual meeting ran in Berlin on 6-9 October.

Update: Adds paragraphs 9-11

Pictured: Cepsa's facilities in San Roque, near the MA plant to be shut
Source: Cepsa