US chlor-alkali production rates rise to 85% in November

22 December 2010 21:39  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US chlor-alkali production was at 85% of capacity in November, up slightly from October, a US trade group said on Wednesday.  

November chlor-alkali output was 930,005 tons (843,701 tonnes) of chlorine and 982,411 tons of caustic soda, The Chlorine Institute said.

Chlor-alkali production rates increased from October's revised rates of 82%, according to The Chlorine Institute.

November’s higher operating rates were largely attributed to the resumption of operations previously curtailed by maintenance runs, sources said.

Pockets of tightness developed in caustic soda supply because several producers were taking standard maintenance outages in October, according to sources.

Tighter supply coupled with strengthened domestic and export demand for caustic soda, mainly in major end-uses of alumina and paper processing, assisted sellers in implementing a series of increases between late August and December.

The US caustic soda export range was last assessed at $355-390/dry metric tonne (dmt, €270-296/dmt), up from the September assessment of $300-325/dmt FOB (free on board) US Gulf.

In the key chlorine-derivative market, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) suppliers sought to raise domestic contract prices by 3 cents/lb ($66/tonne) in both November and December.

The November increase gained traction at 2.00-2.50 cents/lb implementation, according to market sources.

The December 3-cent move was pushed to January by most suppliers as steadier feedstock ethylene prices and an ongoing slow recovery in US housing and construction allowed buyers to mount resistance.

Pipe-grade PVC resin contracts were last assessed at 72-74 cents/lb, with general purpose at 76-78 cents/lb.

US chlor-alkali producers include Dow Chemical, Occidental Chemical, Formosa Plastics, Shintech, Georgia Gulf, Bayer, Olin and PPG Industries.

US PVC producers include Shintech and Georgia Gulf.

($1 = €0.76)

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By: Judith Taylor
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