Singapore — China's propane dehydrogenation plants raised their averaged operating rate to 88% in May from 84% in April, according to S&P Global Plattscalculations based on data provided by JLC, a Beijing-based information provider.
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This was the highest run rate to date in 2018, and could be attributed tono maintenance being undertaken at PDH plants in May, Platts calculationsshowed.
The average rate covers eight plants in China that have a combinedpropylene production capacity of 4.61 million mt/year and can use up to 5.53million mt/year of propane as feedstock at full operating rates.
None of the PDH plants reported maintenance in May, and most kept theirrun rates broadly unchanged from April, according to the JLC data.
However, Zhejiang Satellite Petrochemical in eastern China raised theoperating rate of its PDH plant to 93% in May from 61% in April, which wasseen as the main reason for the rise in the overall rate.
The company resumed normal operations in May after unplanned maintenanceat its 450,000 mt/year PDH facility over April 13-19, Platts reported earlier.
For June, Yantai Wanhua plans to shut its 750,000 mt/year PDH facility ineastern Shandong province for a month of scheduled maintenance from thisweekend, according to a source with the company.
This is expected to lower the overall PDH plant average operating rate inJune, market sources said.
PROCESSING MARGINS NARROW AS PROPANE COSTS RISE
The PDH plants' processing margins were estimated to have edged down toto Yuan 1,985/mt ($309.40/mt) in May from Yuan 2,060/mt in April due to a risein the cost of imported propane, according to Platts calculations.
However, the margin was still wide enough for domestic PDH plants tomaintain high run rates, market sources noted.
Saudi Aramco set its May Contract Price for propane at $500/mt on a FOB basis, up $25/mt from the month before.
Refrigerated propane cargoes on a delivered basis to East China were estimated to average $563/mt in May, up $75/mt from April, Platts calculationsshowed.
China's PDH plants typically secure half their propane requirements underterm contracts and the rest in the physical spot market.
It takes around 1.2 mt of propane to produce 1 mt of propylene, and the processing cost for PDH plants in China is estimated at around Yuan 1,500/mtby market sources.
As a result, PDH plants' propylene producing costs in May were estimated at around Yuan 6,316/mt after factoring in taxes, fees and processing costs,up Yuan 431/mt from April.
Chinese domestic propylene traded at an average of Yuan 8,300/mt in the east and north in May, up Yuan 356/mt from April, according to JLC data.
As a result, Platts estimates PDH plants in China had a theoretical processing margin of Yuan 1,985/mt in May, down 4% month on month.
--Edited by Wendy Wells, firstname.lastname@example.org