Sasol-Huntsman lifts Moers MA force majeure, new reactor online

13 May 2011 10:47  [Source: ICIS news]

Sasol-Huntsman has lifted the force majeure declaration on maleic anhydride (MA), which is used in the manufacture of unsaturated polyester resins (UPR), which are used in a wide range of applications such as pleasure boats, bathroom fixtures, automobiles, tanks and pipes.LONDON (ICIS)--Sasol-Huntsman has lifted the force majeure declaration at its maleic anhydride (MA) plant in Moers, Germany, a company source said on Friday.

The force majeure was enacted on 4 March 2011 because of technical problems associated with the start-up of the facility’s new 45,000 tonne/year reactor.

It was lifted on 30 April and the extra capacity is now online, giving a new nameplate capacity of 105,000 tonnes/year.

The European MA market has been in tight supply since the fourth quarter of 2009, because of the closure of BASF’s 115,000 tonne/year MA plant in Feluy, Belgium.

Despite the lifting of Sasol-Huntsman’s force majeure, MA availability remains low because of limited stock levels and high demand, sources said.

Spot prices are at record levels of €1,800-2,000/tonne ($2,571-2,857/tonne) for liquid and flake. Liquid spot prices have been at historic highs for 10 weeks, and solid spot prices for six weeks. At the time, the spot price increases were attributed to the Sasol-Huntsman force majeure.

There has been no subsequent reduction in prices, however, as the supply chain remains understocked. There are also suggestions of production problems at another European producer, which is helping to keep supply limited, but this could not be confirmed at source.

Strong demand is because of buying interest in the downstream unsaturated polyester resin (UPR) sector. The second quarter is traditionally the peak-season for UPR demand and 2011 is following normal trading patterns, according to sources.

Sustained macro-economic recovery is further boosting downstream demand, players said.

($1 = €0.70)

For more on MA visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Mark Victory
+44 208 652 3214

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