FocusEast China's high SM stocks to stay as buyers seek local supply

22 April 2010 07:44  [Source: ICIS news]

By Clive Ong

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Eastern China’s shore tank inventories of styrene monomer (SM) available for sale may remain at elevated levels over the next few weeks due to laggard buying of imported cargoes, market sources said on Thursday.

Weekly inventories for spot sales had remained mostly between 80,000-90,000 tonnes since the Lunar New Year holidays in mid February, about triple the comfortable level of 30,000 tonnes, as buyers turned to cheaper locally made material, they said.

“Current (domestic China) prices is equivalent to around $1,250/tonne (€937.5/tonne) CFR (cost and freight) basis, so the demand for imported cargoes at the high $1,290-1,300/tonne CFR is weak,” said Chinese producer.

Local parcels were priced at around yuan (CNY) 10,200/tonne ex-tank in eastern China this week, market sources said.

Offers for bonded cargoes that form part of the inventories in shore tanks, meanwhile, were at around $1,280/tonne, LC (letters of credit) 90 days, they said.

SM is a feedstock for manufacturing polystyrene (PS) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resins, which are used in various applications such as food packaging, consumer goods and electronics.

“Tank inventories are unlikely to dip in the near term as demand is weak,” said a Chinese trader said.

“Chinese traders were also offering Mid-East cargoes from bonded tanks,” said a Singapore-based petrochemical broker.

Around 25% of the tank inventories currently in eastern China were of Middle East origin, estimated one trader.

An increase of availability of Middle Eastern SM cargoes had been notable as major facilities in that region started commercial production, market sources said.

Kuwait Styrene Monomer Co started up its 450,000 tonne/year plant late last year, while PARS Petrochemical commenced operations at its 600,000 tonne/year facility in Iran in the first quarter of 2010.

Market talks that PARS shut down its Iran plant due to production issues caused east China's inventories to fall below 80,000 tonnes last week, but the situation appeared to have been resolved, market sources said.

Offers for the producer’s parcels for May arrival had re-emerged in the Chinese market this week, according to traders.

($1 = €0.75)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

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By: Clive Ong
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