US ethylene margins rise 3% on higher spot prices

05 March 2012 21:46  [Source: ICIS news]

A US crackerHOUSTON (ICIS)--US ethylene spot margins rose by 3% last week after an increase in spot prices more than offset higher feedstock costs, the ICIS margin report showed on Monday.

Ethylene margins for ethane feed were assessed at 50.53 cents/lb ($1,114/tonne, €847/tonne), up from 49.01 cents/lb a week earlier.

The increase came as ethylene spot prices rose by 3.4%, while co-product values gained 2.8%, amid news of an outage at two Eastman Chemical crackers in Texas and the start of maintenance at the LyondellBasell Channelview olefins complex, also in Texas.

Eastman said that two of its crackers in Longview went down on 29 February because of a power disruption. The units were restarted during the weekend.

Meanwhile, LyondellBasell started a turnaround in Channelview, where the company has two crackers, each with 873,000 tonnes/year of capacity.

LyondellBasell shut down one of the units (OP-1) on 29 February. The cracker is expected to be off line for seven weeks. The second unit (OP-2) was also expected to go down but only for two weeks.

One market participant attributed the jump in ethylene prices last week to "fear factor" in light of potential new outages in March and April, a period when as many as five US crackers could go down for maintenance.

Around 10% of US ethylene capacity is expected to be off line in the second quarter, according to a projection in the market.

US ethylene for March was offered on Monday at 70 cents/lb, but no deals were heard.

($1 = €0.76)

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By: William Lemos
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