Petrotahlil - Styrene monomer (SM) producers in Taiwan are bringing forward or extending maintenance shutdowns to cope with a slowdown in demand because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Taiwan's largest SM producer, private-sector Formosa Petrochemical, will shut its 720,000 t/yr production line this week for two weeks. The company had not scheduled any turnaround at the unit in 2020, after completing maintenance in the second quarter of last year.
Turnarounds at Formosa's two other SM units, with total capacity of 600,000 t/yr, will go ahead as originally planned starting in May this year.
These shutdowns will balance the excess supply that emerged suddenly after the lunar new year break, when Formosa slashed operating rates at its derivative units in Ningbo, and demand slumped from its customers in Taiwan and China, as transportation curbs and quarantine measures in China created logistics bottlenecks.
Fellow producer Taiwan Styrene Monomer (TSMC) has brought forward and extended maintenance at its two units. TSMC had originally planned to start three-week turnarounds at the end of February. But its smaller 160,000t/yr unit was shut on 14 February, with the maintenance extended to 35 days. Its larger 180,000t/yr unit will be shut around 23 February for an extended period, although the company has not decided how long the closure will last.
Taiwan's other SM producer, GPPC, has scheduled maintenance at its 240,000 t/yr unit from 24 February to 27 March. The producer has not yet decided whether it will extend the duration of the shutdown.
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