Shell to restart ethylene cracker in Singapore

(Plastemart) -- Shell has restarted its 800 KTa ethylene cracker in Bukom Island, Singapore, over the weekend, as per Platts. The cracker has been shut for about two months following an outage. The unit was taken offline for a planned month long maintenance in February this year. Shortly after it restarted, it had to be shut on March 18 due to technical problems, prompting it to declare force majeure on some chemical supplies. It was not clear at what rate the plant was operating.
The cracker is designed to use a range of raw materials including naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and heavy liquid hydrocarbons such as hydrowax.


Formosa has yet to decide when it will start its No. 1 naphtha cracker

(Bloomberg) -- Formosa Petrochemical Corp. has yet to decide when it will start its No. 1 naphtha cracker and whether it will carry out maintenance at a second unit, originally planned for September. It's still ⌠unclear whether Formosa Petrochemical will shut the No. 3 ethylene plant for work it had scheduled for the third or fourth quarter, Lin Keh-yen, a company spokesman, said by phone from Taipei. Maintenance was planned to last 40 days to 45 days, Lin said in March. Formosa also can't confirm the start-up date for the No. 1 unit, which was halted following a fire at a pipe in the Mailiao oil refining and petrochemicals complex, Lin said.

The suspended ethylene plant has an annual capacity of 700 KT and accounts for about 24% of the refiner's output capacity of the raw material, used in plastics and fabrics, according to the company's website.


Shell to build the world's first FLNG facility

(Arabian Oil and Gas) -- Shell has taken the final investment decision on the Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) Project in Australia (100% Shell), building the world's first FLNG facility. Moored far out to sea, some 200 kilometres from the nearest land in Australia, the FLNG facility will produce gas from offshore fields, and liquefy it onboard by cooling.

The decision means that Shell is now ready to start detailed design and construction of what will be the world's largest floating offshore facility, in a ship yard in South Korea.

From bow to stern, Shell's FLNG facility will be 488 metres long, and will be the largest floating offshore facility in the world - longer than four soccer fields laid end to end. When fully equipped and with its storage tanks full, it will weigh around 600 KT - roughly six times as much as the largest aircraft carrier. Some 260 KT of that weight will consist of steel - around five times more than was used to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


Chairman of International eChem advised chemical companies to check stock levels

(ICIS) -- The volatility in chemical and oil markets indicates that the global economy is going through a structural change and entering the New Normal' of lower growth in mature markets, according to a leading consultant.

Speaking before Monday's launch of a free eBook on the New Normal, co-author Paul Hodges, chairman of UK-based consultancy International eChem, said the volatility is being caused by central banks trying too hard to stimulate economies that should naturally be entering a sustained period of lower growth.

According to Hodges, the post-war baby-boom generation is ageing, and therefore spending less money on big-ticket items such as new cars and bigger homes. The oldest baby boomers are 65 this year and their average age is 53. But central banks have missed this demographic change and are trying too hard to stimulate economic growth despite the structural fall in demand.

The growth in demand for chemicals and other commodities seen in the first quarter of 2011 may not be based on real demand, but speculative buying based on the fear of continued rising oil prices, Hodges said.

Hodges said conditions are not yet the same as the crash of late 2008 because the oil price has not collapsed.

He advises chemical companies to check stock levels and check with downstream customers, not just with convertors but with retail customers.

In the long run, innovative chemical companies can emerge as winners from the New Normal if they are properly prepared, said Hodges. They can create products suitable for the ageing baby-boomer population in the West, and meet the needs of people moving into the first stages of consumption.


HPCL is in talks for its petrochemical project

(Plastemart) -- Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) is in talks with potential partners including Total of France for its Rs 45.000 crore petrochemical project at the proposed PCPIR near Visakhapatnam. State-owned HPCL expects to ground the project by the end of the fiscal. About 10 companies have so far evinced interest in the PCPIR in Andhra Pradesh.

HPCL is the anchor client in the project. HPCL would be keen on a partner willing to supply about 50-60% of the feedstock for the project. HPCL has already been allotted about 1.500 acres in the PCPIR by the Andhra Pradesh government. The company is now seeking allotment of another 1.000 crore for expanding the scope of the project.

The petroleum major's plan includes setting up a 350 mw captive power plant in its proposed complex, apart from the 15 mln tpa petrochemical facilities. The company already has an 8.5 mln tpa petroleum refinery in the vicinity of the proposed project. The refinery capacity too is expected to go up to 15.000 mw, entailing an investment of about Rs 10.000 crore.