MOSCOW (MRC) -- On Friday, Yeochun NCC (YNCC) Co., South Korea’s major petrochemical producer, shut down its cracker in Yeosu, South Korea after an explosion at the complex killed four people and injured four, reported The Korea Economic Daily.
The blast hit the No. 3 plant including a naphtha cracker with an annual ethylene capacity of 470,000 tons at around 9:26 am local time in Yeosu, a coastal city about 340 kilometers southwest of Seoul, according to the company and the government.
YNCC said the explosion took place during a test of the factory’s heat exchange system, although investigations by the authorities will figure out the exact cause of the incident.
The labor ministry ordered the company to suspend the plant’s operations and launched a probe.
YNCC, a 50-50 joint venture founded in 1999 between Hanwha Solutions Corp. and DL Chemical Co., formerly known as Daelim Industrial Co., operates a petrochemical complex to produce a total of 2.3 million tons of ethylene. The complex has two more crackers with each capacity of 900,000 tons and 915,000 tons.
As MRC reported earlier, YNCC restarted its No. 2 naphtha cracker in Yeosu with a delay on 17 January, 2021, following a two-and-a-half-month shutdown for expansion. The initial start-up was scheduled on 14 January, 2021. The expanded cracker is now capable of producing 915,000 tons/year of ethylene, up from the previous 580,000 tons/year and 550,000 tons/year of propylene, up from 270,000 tons/year previously. The new ethylene capacity would be supplied to DL Chemical’s new metallocene linear low density polyethylene (mPE) plant at the adjacent location.
Ethylene and propylene are the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), respectively.
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,265,290 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2021, up by 14% year on year. Shipments of all grades of ethylene polymers increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market were 1,363,850 tonnes in January-November, 2021, up by 25% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and block-copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymers) increased, whereas supply of injection moulding PP random copolymers decreased significantly.
South Korea’s Yeochun NCC (YNCC) pyrolyzes naphtha to produce basic feedstock materials for the petrochemical industry. YNCC, a joint venture between South Korean firms Hanwha and DL Chemical Co, is a key exporter of ethylene and propylene in the country.