The average price of butadiene in February rose 14% month on month to $2,007.50/mt FOB Korea amid tight availability and new downstream plants coming online.
The first of about four butadiene rubber plants starting up in 2013 was brought online by Sinopec Maoming Petrochemical in Guangdong province in February. It started test runs at the new plant on February 22 and achieved on-spec production the same weekend.
The company was running the 100,000 mt/year plant at about 50% of capacity Friday due to poor demand for BR from tire and shoe makers.
Supply was also tighter in February due to feedstock changes and reduced runs by South Korean butadiene operators.
Lotte Chemical began using 10% of LPG as feedstock for its steam cracker at Daesan from February 1 to cope with rising naphtha costs.
The company's steam cracker, which has a design capacity of 1 million mt/year of ethylene and 500,000 mt/year of propylene, supplies crude C4 feedstock to a 150,000 mt/year butadiene extraction unit at the same location.
Butane is generally preferred to propane when LPG is used in steam crackers, especially in South Korea. Butane raises ethylene and propylene yields compared with naphtha, but results in a fall in butadiene production.
Yeochun Naphtha Cracking Center has been operating its 240,000 mt/year butadiene extraction unit at Yeosu at 90% of capacity since February 18.
YNCC's butadiene runs were cut from 100% to 80% on February 8 due to contamination at an extractor caused by polymerization.
Butadiene is usually made via an extraction and purification process from a crude C4 stream. Polymers can form during the process, or polyperoxides if oxygen is present, which can result in an explosion.
YNCC will use 10% butane as feedstock for two of its three naphtha-fed steam crackers at Yeosu from Friday -- its No. 1 steam cracker, which can produce 860,000 mt/year of ethylene and 450,000 mt/year of propylene, and its No. 2 cracker, which can make 580,000 mt/year of ethylene and 280,000 mt/year of propylene.