Abu Dhabi Polymers Company (Borouge) has shut down production at its Borouge-2 facility in Ruwais due to problems with its seawater system.

The 18 February incident resulted in an emergency shutdown of the plant, which began commercial operation in October 2010, says a source close to the local/European plastics producer.

“A major problem with the concreting caused the rubber liner of the seawater system to be damaged,” says the source, prompting Borouge to shut down the complex.

Currently all Borouge-2 units are shut down, but the Borouge-1 units which were scheduled for a turnaround continue to operate.

Borouge had planned a six-day shutdown for its Borouge-1 facility due to a turnaround at its feedstock provider, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) which would halt production at its 600,000 tonne-a-year (t/y) ethylene unit and two 225,000 t/y polyethylene (PE) production units.

“We are currently taking advantage of a feed slowdown, due to a planned turnaround at our feedstock provider, to perform maintenance on our plants where necessary, such as repair of the seawater system,” says Craig Halgreen, Borouge’s vice-president for global communications.

Tecnicas Reunidas of Spain, which provided the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for the Borouge-2 offsites and utilities package has been asked to rework the seawater system.

“Impact on deliveries to customers is limited and full production will resume before mid-March,” says Halgreen.

“The challenges for Borouge-2 are part of the operational learning curve for any new polyolefin plant and have been far less than typical start-ups in the industry,” adds Halgreen.

“I would not go so far as to say there was a major design problem for the whole of the Borouge-2 plant, but yes, some ears will be pulled,” says another source close to the company.

Borouge is a joint venture of Adnoc and Vienna-based plastics producer, Borealis. The Borouge-2 expansion added a new ethane cracker, two polypropylene plants producing 800,000 t/y and a 540,000 t/y PE plant, taking total production at the complex to more than 2 million t/y of polyolefins. A third phase of expansion will boost Borouge’s total production capacity to 4.5 million t/y, adding cross-linked and low-density polyethylene to its production slate (MEED 27:1:11).