Thailand's IRPC faces propylene output cut after plant fire

10 June 2014 04:20 Source:ICIS News

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The fire that damaged a diesel production unit on Monday at Thai refiner IRPC’s 215,000 bbl/day Rayong refinery is expected to significantly cut the firm’s propylene production and may dampen its expansion plans at the site, a source close to the company said on Tuesday.

The fire, which started at around 18:00 hours Thailand time (11:00 GMT) on Monday at the vacuum gas oil (VGO) hydrotreater unit, was completely extinguished two hours later, the source said.

No one was injured in the blaze, the source said. The company could not be immediately reached for comment.

IRPC has not disclosed how long it will take to repair and bring the damaged unit back to normal operations.

The damage from the fire will affect some benzene and diesel output, but propylene production would be the most affected, the source said, adding that IRPC is now estimating the damage and shutdown period of the VGO hydrotreater unit and plans to operate unaffected units as normal.

“The VGO hydrotreater unit is the unit that reduces sulfur in crude oil before moving onto the deep catalytic cracking (DCC) unit. The DCC unit will then crack fuel oil to propylene,” the source said.

“The fire will affect 150,000 tonnes of propylene output from total 412,000 tonnes propylene capacity,” the source added.

It is still also unclear if the fire at the site will delay the company’s Upstream Project for Hygiene and Value Added Products (UHV) project, a major expansion and upgrading effort that will transform the refinery into a petrochemical complex. The project is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of next year, according to the source.

The refinery was running at 80% capacity prior to the fire incident, the source added.

By Nurluqman Suratman