NPRA ’11: US chlor-alkali exports on rise, higher prices sought

27 March 2011 20:30  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--US chlor-alkali players are eyeing global developments following events in Japan as market sentiment has focused on export supply concerns and discussion of higher prices.

Firm export demand for both US polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and caustic soda has supported chlor-alkali production, with high operating rates reported for January and February.

According to The Chlorine Institute, January’s operating rate was 92%, while February’s operating rate was at 89% of capacity. Market sources attributed the slight drop to unusually cold temperatures in the US Gulf coast in early February.

For caustic soda, increases between $35-$40/dry metric tonne (dmt) were sought by producers in domestic contracts, as well as in spot barge and export markets.

In the PVC market, producers announced a round of 3 cent/lb increases for March contracts, with another 3 cent/lb price hike sought for April contracts. 

However, US buyers in both markets are resisting any increases, citing a weak domestic market as the US housing and construction sectors have yet to shown signs of recovery.

US PVC January exports rose by 9% year on year, according to the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

January 2011 exports totalled 230,111 tonnes, compared with 211,926 tonnes exported from the US in January 2010, according to ITC statistics.

US caustic soda January exports fell by 1% year on year, to 354,052 tonnes from 356,013 tonnes.

Hosted by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC) continues through Tuesday.

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy
For more on chlor alkalis visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Ruth Liao
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