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Factbox: Indian petrochemical plants shut after lockdown, prices fall

Singapore — Several petrochemical plants in India have been forced to shut down after the country imposed a nationwide lockdown from March 24 until April 14 to fight the fast spreading coronavirus outbreak.

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Uncertainty still lingers around whether the lockdown will be lifted next week, and how fast the plants can get back into production considering it may take some time for workers to return and for logistics and transportation to resume normal operations.

PRICES

  • CFR India solvent mixed xylenes plunged to a historical low of $392.50/mt on April 3. S&P Global Platts started assessing the marker on October 5, 2018, and the previous low had been $645/mt between December 28 and January 4 this year. FOB Korea solvent MX physical tanked to $282.50/mt on Friday, the lowest in 18 years. The marker touched $267.50/mt on February 22, 2002.
  • Indian methanol prices hit an 11-year low of $156/mt CFR India when crude oil futures plummeted to $24.88/b on April 1, while acetic acid prices languished near three-and-a-half year lows at $320/mt CFR last week.
  • The CFR South Asia acrylonitrile price was assessed down $55/mt week on week at $1,015/mt on Tuesday, the lowest since May 17, 2016, when it was assessed at $1,035/mt. "I have not received any queries from the buyers in India this week," an ACN producer in Asia said this week.
  • The purified terephthalic acid CFR India marker has fallen $20/mt since the nationwide lockdown, to be assessed at $440/mt Tuesday amid weak demand in India and other regions in Asia.

INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Supreme Petrochem, one of the leading polystyrene producers in India, shut its plants at Amdoshi and New Manali Town after the national lockdown, on March 28. The plants can produce 272,000 mt/year of PS and 80,000 mt/year of expandable PS. India's lockdown may be extended and the company is looking at the restart time. "We will review the situation after April 14 and make a decision then," said a source close to the matter.
  • India's two major phthalic anhydride producers, Thirumalai Chemicals and IG Petrochemicals, may take up to two weeks to restart their plants after the nationwide lockdown ends, as it may take longer for the workers to return, sources close to the two companies said Tuesday. IGPL's total PA capacity is 222,000 mt/year at its plant site in Maharashtra. Thirumalai has a PA capacity of 145,000 mt/year at Ranipet, Tamil Nadu.
  • Thirumalai was also forced to delay the commissioning of its new 23,000 mt/year phase one PA line at Dahej, Gujarat. This will now happen earliest by June, S&P Global Platts reported earlier.
  • The lack of domestic consumption of orthoxylene in India due to the shutdown of the country's PA plants may add export pressure to the country's sole OX producer Reliance Industries, sources said.
  • India's leading polyester producer, Bhilosa Industries Pvt. Ltd. has shut its 950,000 mt/year plant at Silvassa, Gujarat, since March 24-25. The plant's production includes POY, FDY, DTY and PSF polyester grades.
  • Deepak Phenolics aims to resume production at its 200,000 mt/year phenol plant in mid-April. The phenol plant shut in end-March, in line with the nationwide lockdown.
  • India's GAIL has shut the 210,000 mt/year high density/linear low density polyethylene swing plant since March 25 and is running the 400,000 mt/year polyethylene plant at its Pata complex in Uttar Pradesh at 50% capacity during the country's 21-day lockdown, a company source said. Capacity at the 400,000 mt/year PE plant was halved by shutting 200,000 mt/year of high density lines, the source said. The source added it was difficult to predict the restart, which will depend upon the prevailing scenario in the near future.
  • Haldia Petrochemicals will keep its steam cracker and polymer units shut until the lockdown is lifted in the country, a company source said. "So far government has ordered shutdown until April 14. It might be extended," the source said. The plant was shut around March 24 due to low demand.
  • Indian Oil Corp. is operating its 350,000 mt/year HDPE/LLDPE swing plant, a 300,000 mt/year HDPE plant and a 600,000 mt/year polypropylene plant in Panipat, Haryana, at 50% due to low demand during the lockdown, a company source said. It is not known when demand might return, the source added.

TRADE FLOW

  • A lack of tanker trucks and port workers has resulted in ullage issues for methanol and acetic acid cargoes arriving at Mumbai and Kandla, compounded by non-existent downstream demand, market sources said.
  • According to sources, shipping delays and tight ullage along West Coast India has saddled local aromatics traders with logistical challenges.