South Korea’s S-Oil runs RFCC at limited capacity; PX No 1, PP units remain shut

Nurluqman Suratman


SINGAPORE (ICIS)–South Korean producer S-Oil is running the No 2 residue fluidized catalytic cracking (RFCC) unit at its Onsan refinery at limited capacity, after restarting it following a blast at the site that killed one person last week.

The blast occurred at the refinery’s alkylation unit at about 20:50 Seoul time (13:50 GMT) on 19 May. Alkylate is used a raw material for the production of clean gasoline.

The company halted production at the No 2 alkylation plant, along with the nearby No 2 residue fluid catalytic cracking (RFCC) unit and a paraxylene (PX) unit, at the site in the southeastern city of Ulsan following the incident.

The incident also caused the shutdown of its No 2 methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) unit.

S-Oil in a stock exchange filing on 23 May said that it has resumed production at the No 2 RFCC unit and plans to restart production at its No 1 paraxylene (PX) unit after scheduled maintenance between 8 June and 15 July.

On-spec production at the No 2 RFCC unit – which can produce 705,000 tonnes/year of propylene – has been achieved but the plant is still running at reduced capacity, according to a company source.

The No 2 unit is expected to be “going to go full [run rate] soon”, the source said, without providing a timeline.

S-Oil’s polypropylene (PP) production process linked to the No 2 RFCC unit has not been restarted, the source said. The company’s PP plant at the Onsan site has a 405,000 tonne/year capacity, according to the ICIS Supply and Demand Database.

The company’s No 1 PX unit was initially scheduled to undergo a scheduled 45-day maintenance from 7-8 June.

The company’s No 2 PX unit was not affected by the blast. The two PX units at the site have a combined 1.7m tonne/year capacity.

S-Oil’s 300,000 tonne/year propylene oxide (PO) plant at the Onsan site is currently running normally.

The Onsan site can produce up to 187,000 tonnes/year of ethylene.

Energy giant Saudi Aramco is the largest shareholder of S-Oil, which is the third biggest refiner in South Korea.

Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman

Additional reporting by Samuel Wong, Tess Tseng and Jasmine Khoo


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