Colombia’s PE demand inches up in January

27 January 2009 19:31  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Colombia’s sole polyethylene (PE) producer Ecopetrol has seen an increase in PE demand this month due to reduced availability in the US Gulf and Mexico, a company source said on Tuesday.

Colombia relies heavily on imports from the US Gulf and Mexico to complement its own production. Ecopetrol produces only low density PE (LDPE).

Mexico lost production in December due to maintenance works on the Cangrejera cracker that also required stopping the swing plant (HDPE/LLDPE) for lack of ethylene. Mexico’s production has resumed in January, but inventories remain low.

A similar situation occurred in the US Gulf in December as companies strove to keep inventories down to minimise the tax bite. A US Gulf producer said “we had a decent December, but we did clean house and shut a number of reactors down, ran at less than 50% in December, so January inventories are somewhat low”.

Ecopetrol’s PE units have not been working normally in recent weeks and inventories are dwindling. Ecopetrol has not imported material in January. The shortages in the US Gulf and Mexico have stressed the need to increase local production.

Production has resumed at Ecopetrol’s Poli-2 unit, which produces about 3,750 tonnes/month of LDPE.

The 1,650 tonnes/month Poli-1 unit was undergoing maintenance. Ecopetrol expects to restart this unit within a week, the source said.

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By: George Martin
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