Samsung Total says cleans up small petrochem leak from its S.Korea plant

SEOUL Thu May 22, 2014 5:16am EDT

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SEOUL May 22 (Reuters) - Samsung Total Petrochemicals Co Ltd said on Thursday a small quantity of a petrochemical product leaked into the sea from a newly-built paraxylene plant in South Korea but had been cleaned up.

Some 2.4 kilolitres of para di ethyl benzene leaked while flowing to test pipelines of the new plant at the company's Daesan petrochemical complex, a company spokesman said. The complex is located in the city of Seosan, 85 kilometres southwest of Seoul.

"The leak occurred during testing the new paraxylene plant, and the clean-up has already been completed," the spokesman said.

The joint venture between Samsung group and France's Total SA is now looking into the causes of the leak, he said.

The new plant has an annual production capacity of 1 million tons of paraxylene and 420,000 tons of benzene. Paraxylene is the raw material for polyester, while benzene is used in petrochemical products such as styrene.

With the completion of the plant and upgrades of existing paraxylene capacity, Samsung Total will have 1.76 million tons of total annual paraxylene capacity this year as the new plant is seen starting commercial production in June or July.

South Korea, the world's fifth-largest crude oil importer, has seen several oil leaks over the past year. Its third-largest refiner S-Oil Corp said in April about 20,000 barrels of crude oil had leaked from a storage tank at its Onsan refinery at Ulsan.

Earlier this year, No.2 Korean refiner GS Caltex Corp leaked 164,000 litres of oil off South Korea's southern coast as the result of an accident.

And in November 2013, a small amount of oil leaked into the sea east of South Korea from a cracked pipeline run by the country's top refiner, SK Energy, which is owned by SK Innovation. (Additional reporting by Jane Chung; Reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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