FocusGCC polymer offers hiked by $30-60/tonne for March

25 February 2010 08:15  [Source: ICIS news]

By Prema Viswanathan

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Polymer offers for March into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were raised by $30-60/tonne (€22.2-44.4/tonne), or upto 4%, due to tight supply and high monomer prices that may force some converters to cut production, industry sources said on Thursday.

This follows a $130-250/tonne hike in February. (please see graph below)

“We are shocked by the spate of polymer price increases we have seen in the past few months. We will be forced to reduce operating rates at our plants if we are unable to pass down the high raw material costs, which seems likely,” said a polymer converter in Dubai.

Producers, on their part, justified the price hikes, citing high monomer costs and shortages.

“One major Middle East producer has cut its production by 25% due to shortage of gas feedstocks, while others have lost output due to maintenance shutdowns or outages caused by technical problems,” said a source close to one of the producers.

Although several new capacities have come on stream in the GCC in the past few months, feedstock shortages, a human resource crunch, overstretched utilities and technical hiccups have kept operating rates at the new plants low.

High propylene and ethylene costs in Asia and Europe coupled with persistently low availability have underpinned the rise in polymer prices in recent months. High crude values at close to $80/bbl have lent further support to the downstream price hikes.

Ethylene prices in Asia were at $1,290/tonne CFR northeast Asia last Friday, up $240/tonne from two months earlier, while propylene was up $75/tonne at $1,125/tonne CFR NE Asia, according to ICIS pricing data.

Polypropylene (PP) production has been the worst hit.

Oman Polypropylene shut down its Sohar PP unit this month for a two-month turnaround, Al Waha Petrochemical restarted its Al Jubail PP plant early this week after a prolonged outage, while Advanced Petrochemical Co plans to shut its 450,000 tonne/year PP plant on 11 March for a three week turnaround.

High density/linear low density polyethylene (HDPE/LLDPE) and PP offers have been raised by $30/tonne and $30-40/tonne from February levels to $1,380-1,400/tonne delivered (DEL) GCC and $1,320-1,340/tonne DEL GCC respectively.

Offers for general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) and high impact PS (HIPS) have been  hiked by $60/tonne to $1,540/tonne DEL GCC and $1,640/tonne DEL GCC, while polyvinyl chloride (PVC) offers have seen a $30/tonne increase to $1,100/tonne DEL GCC.

($1 = €0.74)

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By: Prema Viswanathan
+65 6780 4359

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