February 11, 2020 / 7:33 AM / 12 days ago

China's Hengli Petrochemical cuts refinery operations to 90%: spokesman

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - China’s private chemical giant and refiner Hengli Petrochemical has cut to 90% from this week its crude oil processing rate at a northeastern plant, down from 109%, as a spreading coronavirus hits demand, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: An employee speaks on the phone at the reception of Hengli Petrochemical's new refining, petrochemical complex, at Changxing island in Dalian, Liaoning province, China July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Chen Aizhu/File Photo

The cuts at the 400,000-barrel-per-day refinery and petrochemical complex in Dalian will be equivalent to 17%, or 76,000 bpd, Reuters’ calculations show.

Hengli also shut in a 3.2-million-tonne-per-year reforming unit, one of three it operates, because of a mix of technical and market problems.

“We’ve been planning to shut down the unit for maintenance to fix some technical issues,” the spokesman told Reuters.

“And now it seems the right time, as we are also worried about falling demand for both refined fuel and petrochemicals because of the epidemic.”

As Hengli typically pre-markets fuel for more than two months, its refined fuel sales so far have been smooth, another company source said.

In face of weakening demand for petrochemical products, Hengli also cut back operations at a newly started plant making purified terephthalic acid, or PTA, to half its capacity, from 80% earlier, the spokesman said.

The facility has an annual capacity of 2.5 million tonnes of

PTA, a chemical used to make polyester fiber.

Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp (ZPC), another privately controlled refiner, maintains full operations at its 400,000-bpd refinery in east China, said a senior source with knowledge of the firm’s operations.

The firm, based in Zhoushan of Zhejiang province, is operating one 200,000-bpd unit at above 100% and a second slightly below full rates, said the source.

Calls to ZPC went unanswered.

Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Shu Zhang; Additional reporting by Muyu Xu in Beijing; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Clarence Fernandez

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