Chinese styrene prices firm on possible supply crunch in Japan

15 March 2011 05:45  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Prices of styrene monomer (SM) in China extended gains on Tuesday, after rebounding on 11 March following the devastating earthquake in Japan.

Japan is a key supplier of SM to China, both on a contract and spot basis. Prices of bonded tank cargoes in eastern China rose to $1,380/tonne (€994/tonne) last Friday, up from $1,360/tonne before the earthquake hit. Prices gained further ground this week to $1,400/tonne on expectations that supply from Japan would be affected.

“The situation in Japan is still unclear but the great impact of the earthquake and tsunami was expected to have some impact on SM supply to China,” said a Chinese trader.

Offers of domestic cargoes also jumped to yuan (CNY) 10,800/tonne ex-tank on Tuesday, up from CNY10,400/tonne ex-tank last Friday.

The 9-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on 11 March caused disruptions and forced closures of refineries and petrochemical plants in the northeastern region of Japan.

The operations at several SM units located in the eastern region of Chiba were also affected as some refineries and upstream units, which supply feedstock to the plants, had shut down.

Some of the SM units located in Chiba include Nihon Oxirane’s 420,000 tonne/year plant, Denki Kagaku Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha’s (Denka) 240,000 tonne/year plant, Chiba Styrene Monomer’s 290,000 tonne/year plant and Idemitsu Kosan’s 210,000 tonne/year No 3 unit.

Several contacts at the companies were not available for comment.

“The situation is still fluid and most still do not have a clear picture on the plant situation,” said a Japanese trader, adding that the SM facilities in the Chiba region were said to be operating at around 70% on feedstock shortages.

“The spot market is thin but some indications for April parcels are at $1,430-1,445/tonne FOB Korea today,” a broker said on Tuesday.

The price indication is around $30-40/tonne higher than last Friday’s deal done level of $1,405/tonne FOB Korea.

($1 = €0.72)

For more on styrene monomer, visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Clive Ong
+65 6780 4359

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