US ethylene margins add another 5% on higher spot prices

08 August 2011 19:56  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US ethylene margins widened by another 5% in the first week of August, repeating the increase from a week earlier on a continued uptrend in ethylene spot prices, the ICIS margin report showed on Monday.

Ethylene margins jumped to 30.68 cents/lb ($676/tonne, €473/tonne) in the week ended 5 August, up from 29.27 cents/lb a week earlier, using ethane as a feedstock for the monomer.

Spot ethylene posted new gains last week as August traded at 63.50–64.50 cents/lb, up from 62.00–63.50 cents/lb in the previous week, on anticipated supply tightness as a result of cracker turnarounds in the next two months.

Four US olefins plants have scheduled maintenance in September and October, including Formosa's Point Comfort cracker 2 in Texas, which will go down on 1 September for 35–40 days. The unit has 816,000 tonnes/year of ethylene capacity.

ExxonMobil is said to be planning a shutdown on 1 September at its 1m tonne/year Baton Rouge cracker in Louisiana. The unit is expected to be off line for 45 days, according to sources in the market.

Shell will follow with a shutdown at its 835,000 tonne/year Deer Park plant in Texas on 1 October for 45 days, while Dow Chemical will take its 610,000 tonne/year St Charles cracker in Louisiana down for 30 days on 10 October.

Two of the expected turnarounds will take place in September, when the US hurricane season tends to peak.

ExxonMobil also is said to be planning a 45-day turnaround at its 1.2m tonne/year Baytown cracker in Texas, but the unit is not expected to go down until 1 January 2012.

An ExxonMobil spokesperson declined to confirm the information on the turnarounds. Shell also declined to comment, while Dow did not respond to a request for confirmation. Formosa confirmed its scheduled shutdown for September.

Elsewhere in the Americas, NOVA Chemicals in Canada plans to shut down one of its crackers in September, but the shutdown is unlikely to impact US Gulf prices.

The 839,000 tonne/year Corunna cracker in Ontario is scheduled to go down in mid-September for 50–60 days, a company spokesperson said.

Ethylene bid/offers for August were at 62.75–64.00 cents/lb on Monday, but no deals were heard.

($1 = €0.70)

For more on ethylene visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: William Lemos
+1 713 525 2653

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