[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Skip to Main Content

Latest News

Advertise Here
June 7, 2010
Volume 88, Number 23
p. 12
Article Appeared Online June 4, 2010

Downsizing Ethylene

Petrochemicals: Two Japanese firms prepare for onslaught of Middle Eastern capacity

Jean-François Tremblay

The Mizushima complex in southern Japan. Asahi Kasei
The Mizushima complex in southern Japan.
  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Latest News

October 28, 2011

Speedy Homemade-Explosive Detector

Forensic Chemistry: A new method could increase the number of explosives detected by airport screeners.

Solar Panel Makers Cry Foul

Trade: U.S. companies complain of market dumping by China.

Novartis To Cut 2,000 Jobs

Layoffs follow similar moves by Amgen, AstraZeneca.

Nations Break Impasse On Waste

Environment: Ban to halt export of hazardous waste to developing world.

New Leader For Lawrence Livermore

Penrose (Parney) Albright will direct DOE national lab.

Hair Reveals Source Of People's Exposure To Mercury

Toxic Exposure: Mercury isotopes in human hair illuminate dietary and industrial sources.

Why The Long Fat?

Cancer Biochemistry: Mass spectrometry follows the metabolism of very long fatty acids in cancer cells.

Text Size A A

Mitsubishi Chemical and Asahi Kasei, two highly diversified Japanese chemical producers, have agreed to merge and downsize their ethylene facilities at the aging Mizushima petrochemical complex in southern Japan. Their move comes amid a looming glut of basic petrochemical products worldwide as large new facilities come onstream in the Middle East and China.

For the past 45 years, Mitsubishi Chemical and Asahi Kasei have operated separate ethylene crackers at Mizushima, each with an annual production capacity of 500,000 metric tons. After undertaking a feasibility study over the past year, the two have agreed that one of the two crackers will be closed in the next few years—they haven’t decided which one—thereby removing about 7% of Japan’s ethylene capacity.

Industry watchers aren’t surprised. “We estimate that there is 8 million to 11 million metric tons of ethylene capacity coming onstream in the Middle East and China this year,” says Samuel Liew, an Asia-region olefins and elastomers analyst at the consulting firm Chemical Market Associates. “Japan exports 30–40% of its petrochemical output, and it enjoys no cost advantage within the Chinese market.” China is the main importer of petrochemicals in Asia.

In recent years, Mitsubishi Chemical has initiated a series of strategic moves to reinvent itself. It has become a conglomerate, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, in which the chemical business is a core member alongside Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, Mitsubishi Plastics, and the group’s latest acquisition, Mitsubishi Rayon. The pharmaceutical business generated most of the conglomerate’s profits in the latest fiscal year.

Liew sees more rationalization moves ahead in the global petrochemical industry. In the Japanese sector, he points out, some companies have opened lower cost facilities in the Middle East, which may allow them to close plants at home. He also expects petrochemical players in North America and Europe to close their older and higher cost plants in the face of the onslaught of new, efficient capacity from the Middle East. “All the ethylene crackers coming on-line in the Middle East and China have a capacity of at least 800,000 metric tons,” he notes.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Services & Tools

ACS Resources

ACS is the leading employment source for recruiting scientific professionals. ACS Careers and C&EN Classifieds provide employers direct access to scientific talent both in print and online. Jobseekers | Employers

» Join ACS

Join more than 161,000 professionals in the chemical sciences world-wide, as a member of the American Chemical Society.
» Join Now!