Egyptian Petrochemical Co restarts Alexandria caustic soda plant

05 August 2010 17:04  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The Egyptian Petrochemical Co has restarted its 120,000 tonne/year caustic soda plant in Alexandria, in Egypt, following planned maintenance, a company source said on Thursday.

The restart took place on 3 August and production rates were now back to normal, the source said, adding that the plant had gone into turnaround on 13 July.

Despite oversupply in northern Africa, due to an increase in import volumes, the company source said that demand was at normal levels.

“We’ve got 8,000 tonnes of demand in Egypt this month. This is normal, a normal month would see 8,000-10,000 tonnes of orders,” the source said.

Egyptian FOB (free on board) prices for 50% liquid spot were stable at $200-250/tonne (€152-190/tonne), following falls of $10-40/tonne last week, buyers and sellers said.

The north African market was long due to excess material arriving from the Middle East, sources said. Oversupply in overseas regions was due to chlorine demand (the co-product of caustic soda) outstripping caustic soda demand, leading to a supply imbalance.

Excess material in other global regions was being shipped to northern Africa, sources said.

“PVC [the major end-use for chlorine] demand is doing well. Chlorine demand is doing well. So there’s excessive supply in the market,” said an Asian exporter to Africa.

Nevertheless, oversupply was already priced into the market, players said.

“Supply is long on material from other regions [imported into Africa]. But long supply is already priced-in,” a producer said.

Most sources expected caustic soda values to remain stable throughout August. Although one local producer said that the beginning of Ramadan on 11 August would lower exports from Asia and the Middle East, reducing the excess supply.

The producer added that this could lead to higher prices, although it remained too early to predict the extent of any increase.

($1 = €0.76)

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By: Mark Victory
+44 208 652 3214

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