* Cracker to be shut during upgrade planned for autumn 2017
* Cracker's capacity to process propane could quadruple
* Already set to be shut next spring for planned maintenance
(Adds detail in second and fifth paragraphs)
TOKYO, Nov 29 Japan's Idemitsu Kosan
said on Tuesday its joint venture with Mitsui Chemicals
would conduct work to expand the processing of propane at
Idemitsu's naphtha cracker to take advantage of cheap liquefied
petroleum gas (LPG) prices.
The work will be carried out next autumn and last about a
month, during which time the cracker will be shut, a company
The upgrade will boost the cracker's capacity to process
propane as feedstock by three or four times, said Hideki Gotoh,
deputy general manager of Idemitsu's petrochemical business. He
declined to give the current capacity.
He added that Idemitsu would pay the costs for the upgrade,
without giving a figure.
The benefit from boosting propane and cutting naphtha as
feedstock is set to lead to cost cuts of around 1 billion yen
($8.90 million) a year, the company spokeswoman said.
The cracker will take advantage of its location next to the
LPG import facility in Idemitsu's Chiba refinery. It will mainly
rely on LPG imports for feedstock rather than a small quantity
of LPG produced at the plant, officials said.
The cracker is separately scheduled to undergo planned
maintenance next spring, company sources said.
Idemitsu and Mitsui Chemicals set up the 50:50 venture in
2010 to jointly operate their naphtha crackers in Chiba, east of
Tokyo, to save on costs.
Idemitsu has a naphtha cracker adjacent to its Chiba
refinery with capacity to produce 414,000 tonnes per year of
ethylene, while Mitsui has one with a capacity of 612,000 tonnes
($1 = 112.3700 yen)
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Tom Hogue and Joseph