Maruzen Petrochemical to restart 480 KTa naphtha cracker in Chiba

(Plastemart) -- Japan's Maruzen Petrochemical Co Ltd prepares to restart of its 480 KTa naphtha cracker in Chiba, east of Tokyo, after being shut for a week as per Reuters. Maruzen's Keiyo Ethylene unit continued operating a 690 KTa naphtha cracker in Chiba after the quake.


Russian producers decreased HDPE production in February

MOSCOW (MRC) -- In February Russian producers decreased HDPE output by 6% in comparison to January to the level of 73.5 KT, according to MRC ScanPlast. Record output of HDPE was marked in August 2010 when total output exceeded 84 KT.

Reduction of production in February was caused by a few reasons. First, February is the shortest month in the year and output of PE is traditionally low, except for scheduled maintenance. Secondly, last month some enterprises had technical problems which affected final volume of output.

Reduction of production was marked at all Russian HDPE productions, except for Nizhnekamskneftehim. Separate Russian producers reduced the volumes of production more than by 3 KT each.


Ukrainian converters aren't ready to accept dynamical growth of HDPE prices

MOSCOW (MRC) -- From the year start prices for film HDPE in Ukraine grew, on average, by USD 250/mt, converters aren't able to transfer such a considerable growth to the finished goods, according to ICIS-MRC Price Report.

Such a record growth of prices for HDPE was stipulated, first of all, by growing prices for PE in Europe. At that, gain in price by EUR 60-80/mt is forecasted. Many Ukrainian converters aren't able to follow such a dynamical growth of prices for raw materials and are afraid of flow of cheaper products form China.

Domestic prices for HDPE in China have remained without considerable changes since February and are within the range of USD 1.680 - 1.740/mt, FCA, including VAT. At the same time in the Ukrainian market by mid-March film HDPE had grown to the level of USD 2.170 - 2.220/mt, FCA, including VAT.

Some Ukrainian converters have already started to consider the possibility of substitution of their own packaging production with purchased finished goods in China. Preliminarily, the price difference now makes 30%. According to market players, mass imports of all types of packaging from China isn't expected, first of all, because of long-term logistics and diversity of products. But in case of simple packaging for retail sales, import supplies form China may grow considerably.


Shell is expected to keep shut its cracker in Singapore

(ICIS) -- Shell is expected to keep shut its 800 KTa mixed-feed cracker in Pulau Bukom, Singapore, for 10 days following operational issues at the facility on 18 March, market sources said on Monday.

The cracker was shut at 21:00 hours Singapore time (13:00 GMT) on Friday due to a compressor issue, traders said. The cracker had recently completed a turnaround and was restarted over the weekend of 12-13 March.

Shell has declared force majeure (FM) on monoethylene glycol (MEG) and ethylene (C2) following the shutdown, while prompt shipments of propylene (C3) will also be affected, sources said.

The cracker complex produces 800,000 tonnes/year of C2, 450,000 tonnes/year of C3 and 230,000 tonnes/year of benzene, according to Shell's website.

Shell's 750,000 tonne/year MEG plant on neighbouring Jurong Island gets its C2 feedstock via pipelines from the cracker complex.


US caustic soda exports brisk

(ICIS) -- Caustic exports from the US Gulf Coast were rapidly moving in wake of the Japanese disaster, sources said on Friday. Earlier last week, one US trader noted anxiety from buyers trying to source material. By Friday, demand for caustic was high as enquiries from Australia were now surfacing for US Gulf caustic. By one estimate, the global caustic supply was now short of 100 KT per month as a result of the Japanese outages.

Japan's Asahi Glass Co (AGC) has shut its caustic soda plants at Chiba and Kashima after they were damaged in the massive earthquake on 11 March.

One US producer said inventories were shedding quickly through the export market and expected prices to rise by next week.

A US source said China and Korea both were out of export material, leaving the previously tight to balanced US caustic market up for grabs.

US caustic export prices were currently assessed at $345-380/dmt.