Taiwan petrochemical output faces disruption from rolling blackouts, drought

Nurluqman Suratman


SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Petrochemical production Taiwan faces further disruption as producers contend with rolling blackouts introduced around mid-May, while still grappling with a prolonged drought.

An outage at a power plant in the petrochemical hub of Kaohsiung on 13 May prompted the power conservation measure.

The outage had forced shutdowns of some petrochemical plants last week, including the polystyrene (PS) plants of Taita Chemical and Kaofu Chemical, both with 100,000 tonne/year capacity.

Taita’s plant is expected to be restarted sometime this week, while Kaofu’s plant could resume production around end-May, according to market sources.

Taiwan’s biggest petrochemical group Formosa Plastics Corp (FPC) had a brief outage at its 234,000 tonne/year polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in Kaohsiung due to power issues on 18-19 May, market sources said.

In Mailiao, which is another petrochemical base in Taiwan, production was largely not affected by the island-wide rolling blackouts as most have their own power generators, market sources said.

Power supply is expected to remain tight on most days over the next week because of the heatwave which started early May, according to Taiwan Power Co.

Temperatures in parts of the island have been peaking at around 40 degrees Celsius since the start of the month.

The Kaohsiung power plant outage was sparked by malfunction of a communication system at a transformer station, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Taiwan has also been battling with a prolonged drought – its worst in 56 years – compounding the problem for petrochemical producers as it limits their supply of industrial water.

In Taichung, Taiwan’s second largest city, the government has shut off water taps two days per week.

The Taiwanese government on 19 May said that it will tighten curbs on the use of water from 1 June in Hsinchu and Taichung if there is no significant rainfall by then.

Reservoirs in Taiwan’s central and southern regions were at below 5% capacity, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman

Additional reporting by Jonathan Chou, Trixie Yap and Yeow Pei Lin

Photo: Sun Moon Lake in Nantou county in central Taiwan has shrunk after months-long drought – 23 April 2021. (Source: Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock)


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