Japan May benzene exports nearly halved vs April on lower output

04 July 2014 06:10 Source:ICIS News

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan's benzene export volume in May fell nearly 50% from the previous month, because of lower average operating rates of aromatics units in the country amid a heavy turnaround schedule, traders said on Friday.

A total of 52,751 tonnes of benzene were exported out of Japan in May, down from April’s level of more than 100,000 tonnes, according to government data.

Exports to South Korea fell the most – down 57.2% month on month – to 8,861 tonnes in May, followed by shipments to Taiwan that declined 55.7% to 17,163 tonnes,  the Trade Statistics of Japan reported.

To the US, Japan’s benzene exports decreased 46.8% to 15,292 tonnes, while shipments to China slipped 23.3% to 11,435 tonnes, the data showed.

JX Nippon Oil & Energy, which is Japan’s largest benzene maker with a 1.725m tonne/year capacity, has scheduled maintenance at its four aromatics units from February to July.

Other JX-owned aromatics facilities in the country cut production by at least 20% because of squeezed margins for paraxylene (PX), a co-product of benzene.

Other Japanese producers such as Asahi Kasei, Tonen General and Mitsubishi Chemicals are conducting turnarounds at their aromatics units.

In May, Japan had imported 2,979 tonnes of benzene, bringing its net exports volume for the month at 49,772 tonnes, according to official data.

The last time Japan imported benzene was in January this year, with a volume of 3,066 tonnes, the data showed.

By Ong Sheau Ling