(Dow Jones) -- CPC Corp. is in talks to procure base petrochemicals, such as propylene and ethylene, from Formosa Petrochemical Corp (6505.TW) to ensure future supply as a CPC 23-million metric ton-a-year naphtha cracker is set to close in the first quarter for a year-long capacity upgrade, senior executives from the companies said Monday.
Formosa Petrochemical President Tsao Mihn said the deal between the two rivals, which will likely take more than a month to conclude, will help expand distribution channels and lift the utilization of Formosa's olefin plants by 3%-4% amid a weakening export market. The resulting on-unit cost reduction will help boost Formosa's bottom line, since the refiner has idle capacity, analysts said.
CPC's petrochemical business division Deputy Executive Manager Vincent Lin said sourcing from Formosa, instead of importing from overseas suppliers as it's doing now, will help the state-owned refiner save on shipping and storage and will lower the overall feedstock costs for its downstream customers, which are also facing a sputtering end-demand and a squeeze in margins.
The supply deal also highlights closer ties between the two major energy companies in Taiwan, after some senior executives from CPC were hired by Formosa over the past months, in a bid to turn around its industrial safety image, following a spate of fires at a major Formosa petrochemical plant this year.
"The deal could benefit both sides," Formosa's Tsao said, "as Formosa Petrochemical can sell at prices higher than spots, CPC's downstream customers can get feedstock at prices lower than imports and CPC can make profit on consolidating those deals."
CPC's Lin added that the refiner is sourcing around 20%-30% of the base petrochemicals it needs from overseas suppliers. But he said the deal with Formosa, if struck, is unlikely to fill the whole gap because Formosa has to supply its other customers as well.