Korean manufacturers face additional setback from spike in carbon acid prices amid supply shortage of the key by-product widely used to make consumer and factory output.
According to Korea High Pressured Gas Association on Thursday, the average price of the CO2 gas, often called carbonic acid gas, soared about 30 percent in the past few months as the pandemic continues to force local refinery and petrochemical plants to run at less than 50 percent capacity.
CO2 generated in the process of crude oil refining or plastic production as a by-product is pipelined to nearby carbonic acid manufacturers, which refine and liquefy it for companies to make beverages, dry ice or other products.
Korea is estimated to produce 1,003,000 tons of liquefied carbonic acid per year for the local market whose demand reaches 700,000 tons. But given the current output level, the end market will face a shortage of about 200,000 tons per year, the association said.
A high-pressure gas company official said that the price of industrial carbon dioxide jumped by 20 to 30 percent due to a sharp supply drop. The deficiency is expected to last throughout the summer when seasonal demand for frozen and chilled consumer products rise.
The bigger problem is industrial demand. Carbonic acid gas is used not only in carbonated beverages, but also in various fields such as semiconductor, steel, and paper production, medical treatment, and wastewater treatment.
By Lee Duk-joo and Minu Kim
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]