01 April 2002 00:00 [Source: ICB]Styrene spot prices hit $750-800/tonne cif NWE following outages in the US and NWE, which tightened supply. Weaker gasoline values have prompted lower MTBE spot rates
Naphtha spot prices have softened as crude also lost some ground early last week. Numbers were reported in the $218-220/ tonne cif NWE range but were said to be entirely notional.
The ethylene market is balanced to firm. There has been very little spot activity and prices remain in the range $370-390/tonne cif NWE. However, due to particular circumstances in the Mediterranean, with the lack of availability and the recent fire and closure at the Ras Lanuf site in Libya, a deal was said to have been concluded at $395/tonne.
Demand from polyethylene is good with some feeling it is real demand rather than restocking ahead of higher prices. Contract volumes are good.
The European propylene market is tight due to strong demand and production problems in France and the Netherlands. Spot activity is very limited. Rumours of a deal at higher numbers for Mexican material could not be confirmed. The initial quarter two contract settlement at E437.50/tonne, an increase of E72.50/tonne, is achieving acceptance (see page 10).
Butadiene spot activity is very thin, with no new deals. Availability is tight, particularly following an unscheduled outage in NWE. Demand is healthy and expected to continue improving, prompting talk of a figure of over E400/tonne for the quarter two contract.
Benzene spot prices remain strong although activity is said to be very thin. One April intertrade deal was said to have been inked at around $350/tonne fob NWE for April but no other deals could be confirmed. Weaker crude and naphtha also contributed to the slowdown of the pace of price increases. The quarter two settlement at E399/tonne FD appears to be gathering support.
Toluene spot prices are unchanged in the notional range of $312-318/tonne fob NWE. No activity was noted in the market last week.
Xylenes are still on the up, with price ideas reaching $350-360/tonne fob Rotterdam. This is driven by a firm energy complex as well as a strong US mixed xylenes market. Demand is strong, with several buyers in the market for 500-700 tonne parcels. Players expect numbers to firm in the coming week.
Paraxylene spot values are pegged at $485-490/tonne fob Rotterdam, but activity has been muted due to player absence. Quarter two price ideas are hovering around E550-580/tonne, and a settlement is expected to be achieved shortly.
Orthoxylene is very firm on limited availability. Spot prices are notionally placed at $430-450/tonne cif. One producer insists that a minimum of $450/ tonne could be achieved if material was available. A parcel is apparently being put together for shipment to China, as the arbitrage window remains open.
Styrene spot numbers rocketed up to $720-740/tonne cif NWE last week on the back of production outages in the US and NWE, which prompted acute shortages. The range had moved up to $750-800/tonne cif NWE as ECN went to press, but numbers as high as $900-1000/ tonne were also mentioned, although the deals behind these numbers could not be confirmed (see page 10).
Methanol is stable and prices remain at E140-145/tonne fob Rotterdam with a couple of deals reported in this range. One May deal was heard at E150/tonne fob Rotterdam. The market is tight, and demand under contract is good, particularly for formaldehyde and MTBE. Some expect renewed imports from Russia if spot moves above E145/tonne fob.
MTBE markets are quiet and numbers are softening on the back of slightly weaker gasoline values. The range is now placed at $350-355/tonne fob NWE but this is underpinned by thin spot activity. There are rumours that cutbacks in operations in NWE have been prompted by unfavourable economics.
Ammonia spot prices appear to have consolidated in the low $90s/tonne fob Yuzhnyy but expectations of further price hikes have not been met by the market. There is limited demand in NWE, with most regular buyers covered for April.
Contract numbers are moving upwards in the US, with one producer claiming it has achieved $112/tonne CFR Tampa for the first half of this month and is looking for further increases for the second half of April.
Prices contained in this magazine are obtained by ECN through consultation with producers,consumers and merchants across Europe. They are intended as a guide to price levels of recent business in Europe and reflect medium to large tonnage sales.
Spot prices are quoted fob (free-on-board) NW European port, cif (cost, insurance and freight), FCA (free carrier), CFR (cost and freight). T2 = EC material, not dutiable, bld = blending grade, com = commercial grade, nit = nitration grade. European contract prices are quoted on a free delivered basis (FD) unless otherwise stated; initial but unfixed negotiating range is indicated (nom), na = not applicable, m = monthly contracts. Methanol T1 will no longer be quoted, as it now represents negligible spot business.
Spot prices in this issue are based on information available on 26 March 2002.
|European spot||on last||European contract||US contract|
|Naphtha||na||218-220 (cif) (nom)||-7.5||na||na||na|
|Ethylene||na||370-390 (cif) (nom)||nc||510 (Q2)+||444||435 (Jan)|
|Propylene@||470-480 (cif)||na||nc||473.50 (Q2)+||414||353 (Feb)+|
|Butadiene||na||240-260 (fob) (nom)||nc||335 (Q1)||298||353 (Mar)|
|Benzene||na||350-355 (fob)||+15||399 (Q2)+/385 (Apr)||352/340||284 (Mar) (nom)|
|Toluene*||na||312-318 (fob) (nom)||nc||279 (Q1)||249||na|
|Xylenes||na||350-360 (fob) (nom)||+10||na||na||290 (Mar)|
|Paraxylene||na||485-490 (fob) (nom)||+5||400 (Q1)||356||386 (Jan/Feb)|
|Orthoxylene||na||430-450 (cif) (nom)||+35||448 (Q2)+||390||396 (Feb)|
|Styrenea||na||750-800 (fob)||+165||500-525 (Q1)||446-468||617 (Mar) (nom)|
|Methanol||140-145 (fob)||na||nc||145 (Q2)||126||120 (Feb)|
|Ammonia||na||120-125 (CFR) (nom)||nc||na||na||112 (CFR) (1H Apr)|
NOTES * TDI grade; @ Indicates polymer grade ; a Lower figure for barge price, higher figure for free delivery inland; + Initial contract settlement Dollar prices are based on rates of exchange on 25 March 2002. The dollar equivalent range is based on exchange rates prevalent at the time of contract closure if available, or an average rate for the quarter. $1=E1.141; $1=£0.701; E1=£0.615.
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