US ethylene spot margins begin 2012 on sharp uptrend

09 January 2012 21:49  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US ethylene margins rose sharply in the first week of 2012, lifted by gains in the spot market, the ICIS margin report showed on Monday.

Ethylene margins stood at 26.65 cents/lb ($588/tonne, €465/tonne) in the week ended 6 January, up by 24% from 21.43 cents/lb in the previous assessment in December, using ethane as a feedstock.

The increase came as spot ethylene for January traded last week at 56.75-57.50 cents/lb, rising from an average 51.75 cents/lb in late December.

US ethylene spot availability tightened after the holidays, market sources said, adding that sellers were holding on to inventories probably as a result of anticipated supply tightness because of planned cracker shutdowns in January.

The new year began with one cracker being taken off line, as Shell shut down one of its units for planned maintenance.

The down time at Shell is the first of as many as three possible stoppages that could occur in the US in the next few weeks.

The increase in ethylene spot margins last week extended an uptrend seen in 2011, when US margins for ethane-based spot ethylene averaged 27.47 cents/lb, up by 28% from 21.39 cents/lb in 2010.

($1 = €0.79)

For more on ethylene visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: William Lemos
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