US ethylene margins fall 7% on higher feedstock prices

26 April 2011 18:00  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US ethylene margins fell by 7% in the third week of April, pressured by higher feedstock prices, the ICIS margin report showed on Tuesday.

Ethylene spot margins were at 30.32 cents/lb ($668/tonne, €461/tonne) last week, down from 32.54 cents/lb in the previous week, using ethane as a feedstock.

The drop followed a jump in the price of ethane, which ended the week trading at 82 cents/gal, rising by 5% from a week earlier, on firm demand and higher energy prices.

The rise in the feedstock price was partly offset by a 3.4% gain in co-product credits and a 1.4% increase in spot ethylene, both of which lent some support to margins, the report showed.

Ethylene for April traded at 60.00-65.50 cents/lb last week, up from 58.50-65.25 cents/lb a week earlier.

The increase in spot prices came amid news of at least one confirmed cracker outage in the US Gulf last week.

Dow Chemical shut down one of its Plaquemine crackers in Louisiana, citing a process upset at the site.

The 758,000 tonne/year cracker was taken off line on 16 April, a company spokesperson said.

Market participants said the unit would be off line for around two weeks.

Meanwhile, INEOS reported emissions from its 907,000 tonne/year Olefins 1 cracker at Chocolate Bayou in Texas on 19 April, also citing a process upset at the plant.

The company provided no further details other than to say it was stabilising operations to bring ethylene production back on-spec and decrease feed to the furnaces.

INEOS does not comment on its operations, according to a spokesperson.

US ethylene spot prices remained on an uptrend on Tuesday, along with an 8% gain in the ethane market so far this week.

Ethylene for May traded up to 65.25 cents/lb on Tuesday, rising from deals done at 63.75 and 64.00 cents/lb on Monday.

Mont Belvieu ethane was heard traded at 89 cents/gal early on Tuesday.

($1 = €0.69)

For more on ethylene visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: William Lemos
+1 713 525 2653

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