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Growing PDH base in South Korea lifts LPG sales for KNOC

2016/06/03 12:00

Asia Viewpoint: by Bian Chunyu


With a growing number of propane dehydrogenation (PDH) units in South Korea, demand for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) has increased with Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) reporting a large jump in propane sales in particular as a result. According to KNOC, the state-owned oil company logged some 32.88 mil barrels (bbl) in LPG sales for the four months to April 2016, up 19.7% over sales for the corresponding period a year earlier.


Of the total, butane sales accounted for 14.70 mil bbl, up 2.2%, an increase that paled compared to propane, a commodity high in demand with South Korean petrochemical makers operating PDH units. KNOC said that propane sales for the Jan-Apr 2016 period came in just under 18.48 mil bbl, a figure that was up a sharp 46.1% from the same period in 2015.


Sales of LPG by KNOC into the petrochemical sector for the Jan-Apr 2016 period reached 9.46 mil bbl, a figure that accounted for 28.8% of overall sales. For the same period in 2015, sales were at 4.34 mil bbl, a figure that accounted for only 15.8% of total sales. And although the jump in sales into the petrochemical sector did not go unnoticed, the numbers still remain a distant second to the automotive sector.


For the Jan-Apr period in 2015, KNOC shipped 12.37 mil bbl of LPG into the automotive sector, a volume that accounted for 47.7% of the total LPG sales for KNOC. And although volumes shipped into the automotive sector during the same period in 2016 were unchanged, the share of overall sales fell to 37.6% amid the jump in sales in the petrochemical sector.


In South Korea, three companies hold a combined 1.40 mil metric tons per year (mt/year) in PDH capacity. Hyosung, the first company in South Korea to venture into PDH facilities has a 500,000mt/year unit in Ulsan. That unit started production in 1990 at a capacity of 200,000mt/year, capacity that was lifted to 500,000mt/year last year.


In 1996, Taekwang started operations at a 300,000mt/year PDH, also located in Ulsan, while the latest addition to the growing South Korean PDH fleet came in March of this year when SK-Advanced started commercial operations for a new 600,000mt/year unit. SK-Advanced is a joint venture of South Korea’s SK Gas Co Ltd (45%), Saudi Arabia’s Advanced Petrochemical Co (30%) and Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries Co (25%).

Tokyo : Energy Desk  +81-3-3552-2411
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