MOSCOW (MRC) -- South Korea's major petrochemical makers have recently stepped up efforts to boost production of polypropylene (PP) as base material demand for medical device manufacturing surged following the rollout of vaccination programs across Asia, opening the door for the country to import more petrochemical feedstock naphtha, reported S&P Global.
South Korea's demand for PP and polyethylene (PE), which are essential for making general medical devices including mask filters, plastic disposable syringes and hypodermic needles, as well as protective medical suits and gears, jumped by more than 34% in the first-quarter from a year earlier, according to downstream market analysts based in Seoul.
With many countries across East Asia kicking off their coronavirus vaccination programs in late Q1, South Korean medical device manufacturers are running their plants at full capacity for both domestic distribution and export of various plastic-based medical equipment.
Accordingly, South Korean petrochemical producers said they are well positioned to cater to the needs of medical equipment and hygiene product manufacturers, and the companies are keen to supply necessary materials.
South Korea's biggest petrochemical maker, Hanwha Total, has completed a four-year project to boost its PP production capacity, a company official said.
Under the project, Hanwha Total has built a new PP plant with a capacity of 400,000 mt/year, raising its PP production capacity by 55.6% to 1.12 million mt/year, the biggest in South Korea, from 720,000 mt/year previously.
In addition, Lotte Chemical said a new LDS, or Low Dead Space, syringe developed by South Korea's medical device manufacturer, Poonglim Pharmatech, has been selected as one of the main injection tools to be used in the nationwide vaccination process and the petrochemical maker plans to ramp up PP output as the company stands best to support manufacturing of the particular device.
As a result, South Korea's petrochemical feedstock naphtha requirement will likely trend higher over the coming months, according to Korea Petrochemical Industry Association.
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 953,400 tonnes in the first five months of 2021, which virtually corresponded to the same figure a year earlier. High denisty polyethylene (HDPE) shipments decreased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market were 607,8900 tonnes in January-May 2021, up by 33% year on year. Shipments of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased, whereas deliveries of PP random copolymers decreased.