SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Kumho Mitsui Chemicals Inc (KMCI) said its current methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) plant in Yeosu, South Korea will be running at a “minimum rate” of capacity due to a shortage of raw material carbon monoxide (CO), the company said in a letter to customers recieved by ICIS late on Thursday.
It did not elaborate on what “minimum rate” was but the notification backed up earlier information which said the MDI unit has been running at a reduced rate of 60-70% since the first half of August due to the CO shortage.
“The current situation will be continued until March 2018, with our expectation,” KMCI said in the letter which was dated 4 September.
In the letter, KMCI said the shortage of CO was linked to a recent fire at GS Caltex’s heavy oils refining unit, which occurred on 10 August.
KMCI would start up its 100,000 tonne/year MDI expansion line at the same site in December this year as originally planned but that the line may not be able to run at high rates until March 2018 because of the CO shortage, a company source told ICIS in late August.
CO is used to produce phosgene gas, an important component in the manufacture of MDI and toluene di-isocyanate (TDI).
KMCI is a joint venture between Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals and South Korea’s Kumho Petrochemical.