US ethylene margins jump 15% on falling ethane prices

06 February 2012 21:53  [Source: ICIS news]

A US crackerHOUSTON (ICIS)--US ethylene margins rose by 15% last week, lifted mostly by softer ethane prices, the ICIS margin report showed on Monday.

Ethylene margins rose to 45.85 cents/lb ($1,011/tonne, €768/tonne), using ethane as a feedstock, from 40.05 cents/lb in the week ended 27 January.

The 5.8 cent/lb jump was fuelled by a continued decline in the price of ethane.

Mont Belvieu ethane prices have softened by 26% since the first week of January, pressured by weaker demand after the start of a busy cracker turnaround season in the US last month.

Three US crackers have been shut down since early January. One of the units was restarted, but five other US producers have planned maintenance scheduled for the next few months.

The turnarounds have played a role at boosting US margins by eroding support for ethane prices, while driving a rally in the ethylene market because of tighter supply.

Ethylene for February traded last week at 62-66 cents/lb, up by 5% from 59-63 cents/lb a week earlier.

Meanwhile, ethane ended Friday at 52 cents/gal, down by 10% from 58 cents/gal a week earlier.

February ethylene traded at 64 cents/lb on Monday, shaving off a penny from a deal done at 65 cents/lb on Friday. Ethane prices fell to 48.25-50.00 cents/gal because of continued weak demand.

($1 = €0.76)

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By: William Lemos
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