Japan’s Mitsui, Idemitsu to cut cracker capacity

  • Market: Oil products, Petrochemicals
  • 27/03/24

Japanese petrochemical producers Mitsui Chemicals and Idemitsu plan to reduce the output capacity of their ethylene crackers by the April 2027-March 2028 fiscal year, on the back of weakening domestic demand and increasing supplies.

Mitsui Chemicals and Idemitsu in May 2009 had agreed to integrate operations of their ethylene crackers in east Japan's Chiba prefecture by forming a 50:50 joint company. Since April 2010 this company has operated Mistui Chemicals' 550,000 t/yr cracker and Idemitsu's 370,000 t/yr cracker. The companies then cited weakening domestic demand, a global economic recession, as well as the launch of new, large-scale petrochemical production plants in the Middle East and China for their integration. They targeted to optimise operations to strengthen the competitiveness of their crackers.

They have now agreed to further rationalise their cracker operations by scrapping Idemitsu's 370,000 t/yr Chiba facility by 2027-28. Weakening domestic ethylene demand and growing supplies, especially from China, have prompted them to take the further step to cut cracker capacity, they said on 27 March. The companies also plan to work more closely based on this agreement, aiming to achieve carbon neutrality of their industrial complexes.

Mitsui Chemicals has already decided to exit polyethylene terephthalate production at its Iwakuni Otake plant in south Japan's Yamaguchi prefecture by October. Idemitsu has decided to completely halt producing bisphenol-A by October.

The petrochemical producers have also accelerated a switch to more environmentally-friendly feedstocks. Mitsui Chemicals has used biomass-based naphtha and pyrolysis oil to manufacture petrochemical goods. Idemitsu has boosted output of bio-products, while attempting chemical recycling to generate raw oils from waste plastics.


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