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Some petrochemical plants in Japan restarted operations on Thursday

March 18/2011

(ICIS) -- Some petrochemical plants in Japan restarted operations on Thursday, slowly ramping up production almost a week after the deadly quake and tsunami struck, but the country is beset by bigger problems - the Fukushima nuclear crisis and a consequent shortage of fuel and electricity. With four crackers still down, olefins shipments of at least 25 KT for March had to be cancelled, according to traders.

The shut crackers have a combined ethylene capacity of 1.81m tonnes/year, representing about 23% of Japans total.

Meanwhile, the restart of Kyokuto Petroleums 145.000 bbl/day refinery in Chiba slightly increased Japans refining capacity, which was cut by 22% after the quake-related shutdowns at five refineries. The other four refineries, including Cosmo Oils 220.000 bbl/day facility that burned for days after the quake, have yet to restart.

There is no available assessment yet on losses to the country's petrochemical industry, but it could be huge given significant damage to infrastructure in the northeastern regions.

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