05 May 2009

Future of petrochemicals on our Southern Islands?

Singapore's petrochemical industries are bracing for an avalanche of new Gulf capacity - especially in Saudi Arabia and Iran - which is almost quadruple Singapore's current capacity.
Pulau Bukom lies just off the rich reefs of Pulau Hantu
Shell petrochemical plants on Pulau Bukom lies just next to the living reefs of Pulau Hantu.

Our Southern Islands of Jurong Island and Pulau Bukom are the site of Singapore's petrochemical industries. Rich reefs and shores nearby include Cyrene Reef, Pulau Hantu and Pulau Semakau.

Even with the upcoming two new crackers here - Shell's US$3 billion, 800,000 tpa project in early-2010 and EM's second US$5 billion-plus, 1 million tpa facility in early-2011 - the new Gulf capacity will be more than double that of Singapore.

And on top of that, China is investing in about 9 million tpa of new capacity.

Petrochem plants close to full capacity
China demand hits 90% of what it was before downturn
Ronnie Lim, Business Times 5 May 09;
THANKS largely to a recovery in demand in China, Singapore's petrochemical plants returned to near full operating capacity in the first quarter - and Q2 promises to be even better.

'From a 20-30 per cent plunge in Q4 last year, operating rates improved about 3-5 per cent each month in Q1, so most plants are now operating at 90-95 per cent,' said Stan Park, deputy managing director of Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore (PCS).

There has been a sustained recovery in China, with petrochemical demand there back up to about 90 per cent of what it was before the global downturn, he said.

'There has also been some revival in demand in Indonesia and Malaysia, but not been as strong as that in China.'

Following the Q1 upswing, demand stayed strong in April, with Mr Park saying he expects 'Q2 will be even better than Q1'.

'The key issue going forward for the industry here is not economic recovery, but new cracker capacity coming on stream in the second half in the Middle East and China, like from ExxonMobil's Fujian cracker,' he said.

This will affect Singapore's petrochemical plants and others in Southeast Asia, so 'We are in for volatile times, and we are all holding our breath'.

If Chinese demand continues to hold up, this will offset the new Gulf and Chinese capacity, Mr Park said.

If not, sales here may fall 10-20 per cent.

Singapore now has two operating petrochemical complexes on Jurong Island - PCS's 1.4 million tonnes per annum (tpa) facility and various downstream plants, plus ExxonMobil's (EM's) 900,000 tpa Singapore Chemical Plant (SCP) complex.

EM meanwhile yesterday said it has shut down several units at SCP for scheduled maintenance and upgrading, which is expected to take about two months.

'Unit shutdowns such as these are infrequent, but necessary, to ensure continued safe and reliable operations,' said SCP plant manager Derk Hartgerink. 'We have communicated the shutdown to our regular customers and have made plans to meet their product needs during this period.'

The EM shutdown should not have an impact on Singapore's petrochemical supplies, as operators build up inventory ahead of such a move.

Of greater concern is the coming avalanche of about 9 million tpa of new Gulf capacity - especially in Saudi Arabia and Iran - which is almost quadruple Singapore's current capacity.

Even with the upcoming two new crackers here - Shell's US$3 billion, 800,000 tpa project in early-2010 and EM's second US$5 billion-plus, 1 million tpa facility in early-2011 - the new Gulf capacity will be more than double that of Singapore.

And on top of that, China is investing in about 9 million tpa of new capacity.

1 comment:

  1. Well take the BT article with a pinch of salt, as it contains many inaccuracies.

    The reporter even completely forgot about the existence of Shell's complex.

    ReplyDelete

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