Soda ash supply, demand hit by continued glass furnace shutdowns

15 June 2012 17:04  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Soda ash supply and demand has been impacted by continued glass furnace shutdowns and strike action in Turkey, sources said on Friday.

Flat glass producer Saint-Gobain Glass will cut shifts and shut down one of its furnaces near Cologne, Germany, from mid-June for three months, because of overcapacity in the construction and solar energy markets, the company said. Glass furnaces use vast amounts of soda ash for glass production.

"Considering our manufacturing process we can only regulate this decline in quantities by stopping temporarily the glass furnace and application of short-time work," said Jurgen Peitz, CEO of Saint-Gobain Glass Deutschland.

One soda ash producer was adamant that the continued furnace shutdowns and utilisation rate reductions in Europe will not have any impact on soda ash demand. However, buyers doubted this and said the market is oversupplied and demand is weak.

Meanwhile, Turkish soda ash producer Soda Sanayii's 900,000 tonne/year plant in Mersin remains in a shutdown following strike action by workers at the plant, whowant higher wages.

A source at the company said that the plant has not produced for over four weeks and that the stoppage may last until the end of the month. Negotiations with the workers could last for several more weeks.

The Mersin plant supplies several glass producing furnaces with soda ash, including the company's own plant. In addition, several buyers in the region are supplied by Soda Sanayii.

Players in the region expect tightness in Turkey and southern and eastern Europe as the strike is causing major disruptions.

Follow Janos Gal on Twitter for tweets on the soda ash market

By: Janos Gal
+44 208 652 3214

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