FocusMideast PE, PP shipments suffer longer delays on port woes

12 October 2012 06:55  [Source: ICIS news]

By Ong Sheau Ling

Mideast PE, PP shipments suffer longer delays on port woesSINGAPORE (ICIS)--Shipments of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) in the Middle East are being delayed by up to two months on worsening congestion at Saudi Arabian ports – a condition that may persist through yearend, industry sources said on Friday.

The affected ports include Dammam, Jubail and Jeddah. Most vessels continued to bypass the Saudi Arabian ports, as they were unable to squeeze in to unload cargoes, market players said.

“Some of our August cargoes have yet to be dispatched from [Dammam] port, a Saudi Arabian polyolefins producer said.

“We are just rolling over our cargoes, but we are still selling forward cargoes,” he added.

Saudi Arabian producers are hoping the port authorities could help address the problem and speed up processing at ports.

“The ports here are just not big enough to accommodate the vast volume that the country is producing,” a second Saudi Arabian producer said.

“Not just polymer resins are affected, finished goods as well. It is a nightmare,” a converter based in Dammam said.

Some traders based in Dubai, UAE, said they managed to move resins from Dammam port – where congestion is worse – to Jeddah port for dispatch, but little improvement was seen.

“We have to bear these additional logistics costs in order to shorten the delay in our shipments to our customers,” a Dubai-based trader said.

“We can’t be moving parcels in land to different ports all the time to reduce the delay period,” the trader in Dubai said.

Moving cargoes by land to less-congested ports like the Jebel Ali port in the UAE is not feasible as this will result in higher logistics costs, which polymer producers are not willing to bear.

“Our customers just have to wait,” a third Saudi Arabian producer said.

The port congestion will likely keep supply of Saudi Arabian polyolefins in the Middle East region tight for the rest of the year.

Congestion at Saudi Arabian ports is expected to worsen, with the upcoming Islamic holidays – the Eid ul-Adha, the Haj and the Islamic new year – between mid-October to mid-November.

Such delivery delays, however, may not affect the supply condition in Asia significantly as bonded warehouses of Saudi Arabian producers in several countries in this region have sufficient stocks.

“As long as we can keep our bonded warehouses with ample stocks, our [Asian] customers will still receive our lots in time,” said a fourth polyolefins producer based in Saudi Arabia.

The producer has bonded warehouses in Vietnam, Singapore and China.

“We still have to monitor the situation. [In the] meantime, I guess it may be good news to the market as demand is showing signs of weakness,” said the same maker.

Demand for polyolefins resins across Asia and the Middle East will likely weaken towards the December holidays and because of unwillingness among buyers to keep inventories at the end of the year.

($1 = €0.77)

Additional reporting by Chow Bee Lin

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections
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Author: Ong Sheau Ling

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