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Persistent aftershocks in Japan continued to cause disruption to petrochemicals

March 17/2011

(ICIS) -- Fears surrounding a nuclear meltdown and persistent aftershocks in Japan continued to cause disruption to petrochemicals on Wednesday, following the massive quake and tsunami that struck the country on 11 March.

Many refineries and petrochemical plants in the region have been forced to shut since last Friday, in turn causing a domestic shortfall in fuel, power and feedstocks.

As a result, Japan is seeking prompt supplies of fuel to run its power plants and plug a severe domestic shortfall, after about 22% of its refining capacity was shut down in the aftermath of the earthquake. Energy giant JX Group has terminated exports of oil products to cater to domestic demand, while operations at most oil terminals in northeastern Japan are shut down.

Japans Shin-Etsu shut its 550,000 tonne/year polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant at Kashima after the earthquake, and this is expected to strain PVC supply from the country. Japan Polyethylenes polyethylene (PE) plants at Kashima and Kawasaki are also down.

Asahi Glass Co (AGC) shut its caustic soda plants at Chiba and Kashima after they were damaged in the earthquake, while Japan Polypropylenes production site at Kashima was badly affected by the tsunami that followed.

Meanwhile, Japanese producers might have to declare force majeure (FM) on caprolactam (capro) due to possible feedstock and power shortages, which has sparked panic buying of spot capro by downstream nylon makers in Taiwan, sources said.

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