Europe August PA contract prices rise on costs, supply limitations

17 August 2012 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--European phthalic anhydride (PA) contract prices in August have settled up by €45-60/tonne ($56-74/tonne), depending on grade, on the back of higher upstream orthoxylene costs and some supply limitations, particularly for flake material, market players said on Friday.

PA liquid contracts, which are mainly formula based, largely moved up by €45/tonne in August, in light of higher raw material costs.

For freely negotiated PA liquid business, a similar uptrend to those seen for formula contracts was reported in August, as higher costs weighed against fairly balanced market conditions.

Taking into account the €45/tonne increase, PA liquid contract prices in August were assessed up at €1,385-1,415/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe).

For liquid PA contract prices, lower increases of €30/tonne and larger hikes of €50-60/tonne were also heard in August, but these were not widely confirmed.

By contrast, larger price hikes of €60/tonne for PA flake freely negotiated contract business were deemed possible in August, because of a combination of intensified cost pressure and restricted supply.

PA flake contract prices in August were assessed up at €1,335-1,405/tonne FD NWE. A few sellers considered prices closer to €1,300s/tonne FD too low, pegging prices closer to €1,400/tnne FD, but this was not widely confirmed.

PA demand remains stable, albeit at a low level; because of the slower summer holiday period, particularly in the Mediterranean, along with ongoing soft macroeconomic conditions.

The PA liquid market remains fairly well balanced, as any production constraints are being weighed against downstream plant shutdowns during the summer holidays. Domestic PA flake supply, however, is more limited, because it is reliant to some extent on imports, which remain lower than normal. The latter is attributed to unfavorable exchange rates.

In production news, one of Atmosa’s reactors at its PA facility in Schwechat, Austria, is back on line, but its second reactor remains in restart phase. The second reactor is expected to be back on line by the end of this week. This follows planned maintenance at the site which began on 30 July and was scheduled to last for around two-and-a-half weeks.

Arkema’s PA operations in France are also in the process of being restarted. One of the reactors at its site has already been restarted and operations are likely to be fully resumed by the end of next week. This follows scheduled maintenance which took place in the first half of August.

Italy-based producer Polynt’s force majeure on its European PA supplies is ongoing, the company said this week, although further details were not disclosed. The force majeure came into effect in mid-June and resulted from upstream supply limitations.

Deza’s PA and plasticizers facilities in the Czech Republic is planned to restart on 20 August, following three weeks of planned maintenance. However, there was no further update available this week.

Perstorp’s PA and plasticizer operations in Sweden will enter into a maintenance turnaround on 20 August until the end of the month. 

($1 = €0.81)

By: Heidi Finch
+44 20 8652 3214

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