ERJ staff report (TP)
Tokyo – Japan’s Asahi Kasei will close several domestic petrochemicals plants, and has agreed to share a naphtha cracker with Mitsubishi Chemical in light of difficult market conditions, reported Adam Duckett for TCE Today.
Closures have been announced for its 150,000 tonne/year (t/y) acrylonitrile plant in Kawasaki in August 2014; its 320,000 t/y styrene plant in Mizushima in March 2016; its 65,000 t/y acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene plant in Mizushima in December 2015; its 24,000 t/y styrene-butadiene latex plant in Mizushima in December 2015; and its 37,000 t/y epoxy resin plant in Mizushima in May 2015. Asahi says the 250 workers affected by the closures will be reassigned to other plants owned by the company.
News of the closures follows an agreement to close Asahi Kasei’s 500,000 t/y naphtha cracker at Mizushima, and instead share output from Mitsubishi Chemical’s neighbouring 500,000 t/y cracker. The pair has formed a 50/50 joint venture called Nishi Nippon Ethylene, and plan to permanently shut down Asahi Kasei’s cracker in April 2016. The capacity of the remaining cracker will be increased to 570,000 t/y.
The closure of the acrylonitrile plant in Kawasaki comes alongside falling demand and rising feedstock prices. The company will be left with 200,000 t/y of output in Mizushima, to serve the Japanese market, 560,000 t/y of production in Korea, for sales to Korea, China and Taiwan, and 200,000 t/y in Thailand for the ASEAN markets.
The decision to end styrene production at one of its plants in Mizushima comes as other plants under construction or expansion in Asia threaten to expose Asahi Kasei’s exports to greater fluctuations in overseas prices. It will close its smaller styrene plant, cease exports, while its larger neighbouring 390,000 t/y styrene plant supplies only the Japanese market.
Its acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene plant, styrene-butadiene latex plant, and epoxy resin plant have been forced closed by cheaper imports, falling demand, and oversupply, respectively.
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