Formosa Petchem to raise refinery runs from April as maintenance ends

* Formosa Petchem to complete CDU maintenance soon

* Formosa Petchem fully operating naphtha crackers

* Too soon to tell if fire at sister company would affect crackers

SINGAPORE, April 9 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s Formosa Petrochemical Corp will raise the throughput at its crude oil refinery from the second-half of April after finishing maintenance at a crude unit, a company spokesman said on Tuesday.

Formosa’s Mailiao refinery, which can process 540,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude, will raise its throughput to over 82 percent from 70 percent currently, K.Y. Lin, a company spokesman said.

The plant has been operating at lower capacity because of planned maintenance on a 180,000 bpd crude distillation unit that has kept it shut since the start of March.

Formosa, one of Asia’s top ten largest refinery by capacity, also operates three naphtha crackers with a total capacity of about 2.93 million tonnes per year.

All the crackers are currently operating at full capacity, said Lin.

However, Formosa may need to reduce cracker runs after a fire at its sister company Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp (FCFC) on Sunday caused by a gas leak, Lin said, though it is still too early to determine what is the next step.

Formosa Petrochemical supplies pyrolysis gasoline or pygas, a by-product from naphtha cracking, to FCFC.

FCFC’s No. 3 aromatics line was affected by the gas leak and fire and a prolonged shutdown would mean a lack of a processing outlet for the pygas, which would have to be stored or sold to a third party.

FCFC also off takes naphtha from the Mailiao refinery.

Reporting by Seng Li Peng; additional reporting by Jeanny Kao in TAIPEI; editing by Christian Schmollinger