Europe February PET prices soar on scarce PTA feedstock

25 February 2011 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

VALENCIA, Spain (ICIS)--The European polyethylene terephthalate (PET) February market is struggling with a lack of feedstock which is leading to operational cutbacks and soaring prices, sources said on Friday.

“Potentially €110-120/tonne ($153-167/tonne) is a fair [increase from January to February] as it is relative to the PET market conditions,” a customer acknowledged.

Domestic figures for February were reported as high as €1,520/tonne with sellers securing €1,600/tonne for spot, sources said.

This was up nearly €300/tonne since January’s low €1,300s/tonne, according to data from ICIS.

“From January to February we went up by €150/tonne. We recuperated what we lost in January,” a producer said.

Producers were already targeting increases of €100/tonne for March, citing continued tightness in PET as well as in upstream purified terephthalic acid (PTA).

“March [PET pricing] is bound to be very much higher than it is now,” a second producer said.

The market was struggling to find product and to meet obligations, sources agreed.

“Everybody is sold out and looking for material…Customers have no other choice than to accept [the higher prices],” a trader confirmed.

Due to the scarcity of PTA, Artenius declared force majeure (FM) on PET because it could not get enough feedstock to its European sites. A source there said it was unlikely to be lifted before the end of March. Artenius had limited allocation to 65-80% because of a lack of PTA.

Spain’s Novapet was to close one of its PET lines in Barbastro, in Huesca, for 12 days because of a lack of feedstock. Novapet will close its 130,000 tonne/year PET line on 28 February.

The unit will lose a total of 2,000 tonnes during the shutdown which will also be used to carry out some maintenance work, according to a company source. It added that there was sufficient stock to supply contract customers.

A planned maintenance shutdown at one of Neogroup’s 155,000 tonne/year PET lines in Klaepeda, Lithuania, began the week commencing 21 February and was due to last until the end of March. Full production was scheduled for the first week in April.

Other PET units were operating at 20-40% below capacity, sources estimated.

“Since the beginning of the year I am always fighting for material,” a customer commented.

($1 = €0.72)

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By: Caroline Murray
44208 652 3214



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