APEX Petrochemical factory to be shut down forcibly

(Plastemart) -- Governor of Rayong has forcibly shut down the APEX Petrochemical factory in Map Ta Phut industrial zone and declared the surrounding area as a dangerous zone after leaks of a hazardous substance were detected. The plant produces vinyl chloride monomer, which is used to make polymer polyvinyl chloride or PVC.

The Governor led a team of engineers and officials to investigate the premises and has ordered authorities to remove all hazardous substances from the factory.


Shell Chemicals to extend the August shutdown of its its naphtha-fed steam cracker

(Platts) -- Shell Chemicals plans to extend the August shutdown of its its naphtha-fed steam cracker at Pulau Bukom, Singapore, to 40-45 days from around one month, sources close to the company said Thursday. The steam cracker, which is able to produce 800 KTa of ethylene and 450 KTa of propylene, is scheduled to shut around August 11. The cracker also supports a 155 KTa butadiene unit. The duration of the turnaround was likely extended to carry out further repairs, the sources added.

The steam cracker is relatively new and was first brought on stream in March last year. After the startup, the cracker had been experiencing some technical problems, which caused several shutdowns in late 2010.


US benzene spot prices have hit a 10-week high

(ICIS) -- US benzene spot prices have hit a 10-week high on a combination of stronger energy prices, lower benzene production rates and position taking ahead of August contract settlements, trade sources said on Wednesday.

One aromatics broker even suggested Tropical Storm Bret, which was forecast to move away from the Bahamas earlier this week, was factored into the higher US prices.

Some US benzene and styrene producers have lowered production rates due to the seasonal lull in demand. But one benzene trader said there was talk of an upcoming turnaround in early August at a refinery in Baytown, Texas, which also could have triggered the increase. The increase also comes as styrene and benzene prices move higher in Europe.

Despite the increase overseas, European benzene prices are still below US values, which has created an open trans-Atlantic arbitrage window.


Asia monoethylene glycol prices to firm in the next two months

(ICIS) -- Asia monoethylene glycol (MEG) prices are expected to firm in the next two months because of the start-up of new downstream polyester capacities, stable supply and strong demand from the textile sector, industry sources said on Thursday.

Asia MEG prices were at USD 1.200-1.205/tonne (EUR 840-844/tonne) CFR (cost & freight) CMP (China Main Port) at the close of trading on 20 July, up by USD 40/tonne from 12 July levels, according to ICIS data.

⌠Many speculative traders are in the market to seek cargoes as they believe MEG prices will not have a big risk of falling and even have the potential to rise in the second half of this year. This is because there will be no additional MEG capacity expansion in 2011 and 2012, but some new downstream polyester plants will come on stream in the following months, a trader said.
Around 1.3m-1.5m tonnes of polyester capacities are expected to start up in the third quarter, market sources said.

As a result of the positive market outlook, many traders have been actively purchasing August and September cargoes in anticipation of a price increase, sources said.


Kurdistan's Tawke field reserves doubled

(Arabian Oil and Gas) -- Consulting engineers for DNO have estimated a midrange of 636 million barrels of recoverable oil at the Tawke field in the northern part of Iraqi Kurdistan.

DNO, whcih operates the field, said the estimate is more than double the previosu year end 2010 estimate of 306 million barrels, and far exceeds company expectations of even a few months ago. The new figure certainly was not envisaged when the company made the Tawke discovery in 2006, according to a company statement.

Tawke's original oil in place is estimated at 1.748 billion barrels, and the estimated recovery factor of 36.4% is based on the 2011 production profile and updated geological reservoir models. Tawke production averages 70,000 barrels per day.

Meanwhile, DNO estimate midrange recoverable resources of 100 million barrels for Bastora and 36 million barrels for Benenan, its oil discoveries on the company's Erbil exploration and production license. DNO declared these fields commercial on 25 June this year, and plans to file development plans by year end.