Commentary: LyondellBasell results highlight US ethane advantage

07 May 2012 00:00  [Source: ICB]

To take a snapshot of the US ethane advantage, look no further than the results of Netherlands-based LyondellBasell, a petrochemical and polymers company that operates worldwide.

LyondellBasell is unique among its peers in that it breaks out its olefins and polymers results by geography in two categories - the Americas on one end, and Europe, Asia and International on the other. For the most comparable data, let's examine EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization).

In the first quarter of 2012, EBITDA in its Americas Olefins & Polymers segment rose 23.6% to $598m (€452m) compared with the same period a year ago. On a sequential basis, EBITDA increased 46.9% from the fourth quarter of 2011. Lower ethane feedstock costs and higher prices drove the profit gains.

This was despite a decrease in ethylene volumes of around 200m lb (90,718 tonnes) compared with the fourth quarter on planned maintenance turnarounds.

In stark contrast, EBITDA in its Europe, Asia and International Olefins & Polymers segment fell 69.1% to $103m year on year. Sequentially, results did gain 66.1% from a depressed fourth quarter of 2011.

The favorable US dynamics are likely to continue, but the only concern is in the lackluster volumes.

By: Joseph Chang
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