24 September 2012 10:35 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--Borealis’s 350,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant in Stenungsund, Sweden, was brought back on line in the weekend of 22-23 September, following an outage that started in the week beginning 19 August, a source at the Austria-based producer said on Monday.
The plant had been due to start a planned maintenance outage in mid-September, but the shutdown was brought forward because of a cracker failure at the site. The plant serves mainly the wire and cable sector.
There have been no availability problems during the plant’s shutdown, and demand started to slow during the second half of September as European polyethylene (PE) prices soared.
Prices have risen mainly on production constraints and high costs, rather than strong demand, most sources agree.
LDPE spot prices have slipped to around €1,400-1,450/tonne ($1,818-1,883/tonne) FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) from a high that sometimes went above €1,500/tonne FD NWE in early September, on the back of lower demand.
Naphtha – one of the main drivers of PE pricing – has been traded lower in the past week, affecting PE sentiment, and now most sources are waiting for the settlement of the October ethylene contract price to give direction to October PE pricing.
Demand is not expected to pick up significantly during the fourth quarter, as European economies remain weak and volatility in upstream crude oil and naphtha markets remains high.
On Monday morning, Brent crude oil was trading at $110.55/bbl, and naphtha was at $931-933/tonne CIF (cost, insurance and freight) NWE. Naphtha had hit highs above $1,000/tonne CIF NWE in early September.
($1 = €0.77)
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