Europe melamine market to be well supplied amid turnarounds

20 May 2011 09:26  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Availability in the European melamine market is expected to be sufficient amid a number of turnarounds planned for the second and third quarters, sources said late on Thursday.

“I have sufficient confidence that [producers] have planned for the turnarounds. The market is slightly oversupplied and will cope just fine,” a buyer said.

Buyers are currently expecting reductions in contract prices in the third quarter because of improved availability. Second-quarter contract prices decreased by €200/tonne ($286/tonne) from the first quarter to settle at €1,4301,530/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe).

Activity in the spot market is currently tame, as buyers said they have all the volumes they require. Spot material is largely selling at €1,350/tonne FD NWE and has been steadily priced at €1,3001,400/tonne FD NWE for the last month.

A trader said it does not expect any tightness during the turnarounds unless there are problems with the plants restarting.

Commenting on a possible improvement in spot demand during the shutdowns, the trader said: “It should, I hope so. But you can’t guarantee it. Usually, I’d say yes, but at the moment I’d say no because the market is balanced to long.”

One of the lines at Zaklady Azotowe Pulawy’s (ZAP) 32,000 tonne/year No 1 melamine plant at Pulawy, Poland, has been shut down since April and will remain so for the remainder of May. The plant's second line is undergoing maintenance work and will be off stream until the end of June.

In addition, ZAP's 30,000 tonne/year No 2 melamine plant will be off line for three weeks in the first half of June.

In Qatar, QAFCO began a turnaround on 15 May at its 60,000 tonne/year plant, which is expected to continue until the end of the month, during which time it will be running at 0% capacity.

Borealis’ 20,000 tonne/year low-pressure line at Linz, Austria, was shutdown unexpectedly on 12 May following a technical problem. Borealis expects the plant to restart by the middle of June. In the meantime, the 80,000 tonne/year Linz plant will be running at 60% capacity.

A maintenance turnaround at Linz is planned from 27 June19 July. During this period, the plant will be running at 25% capacity.

Borealis is planning an additional shutdown at its 80,000 tonne/year high-pressure plant at Piesteritz, Germany, from 29 August28 September, during which time the plant will run at 0% capacity.

Its 10,000 tonne/year low-pressure line at Linz, which was taken off stream in February 2010, has been mothballed.

Methanol Holdings Trinidad Ltd has advised that for the majority of June, the urea part of its ammonia/urea/melamine complex will be shut down for its first scheduled turnaround since starting up in early 2010.

As both of the 30,000 tonne/year melamine plants receive their urea feedstock directly from the urea plant, both melamine lines will be shut down.

Methanol Holdings Trinidad is located at the Point Lisas industrial estate in Trinidad.

($1 = €0.70)

For more on melamine visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Helena Strathearn
+44 208 652 3214

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