Europe HDPE pipe import deals to be held off until next year

01 November 2012 15:40  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Slowing demand and falling prices in Europe, plus a long lead time for delivery, are expected to curb high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe resin import deals for the rest of 2012, with deals to pick up only in time for spring next year, industry sources said on Thursday.

HDPE pipe resin prices fell by €30/tonne ($39/tonne) to €1,550-1,590/tonne in October, following a reduction of €10/tonne in the October feedstock ethylene contract price, and a supply overhang.

Market sentiment remains bearish on slow demand, which is expected to continue through the fourth quarter as piping applications in the construction sector decline during winter.

Imports of HDPE 100 and HDPE 80 have already been low in 2012 compared to commodity grades of HDPE such as injection and blow-moulding, but many importing distributors have now stopped concluding fresh deals altogether.

Industrial requirements are stringent for the HDPE pipe grade, which is a speciality grade mainly used in water, sanitation and natural gas piping applications. Obtaining certification is a time-consuming procedure from which most exporting producers based in the Middle East and Asia have shied away.

The PE 100+ Association, a major industry body, has only a handful of members in Europe, as well as Thailand's SCG Chemicals, Japan's Prime Polymer and the United Arab Emirates' Borouge, that have successfully obtained certification.

"With this documentation they have succeeded to isolate the market," said an importing distributor.

"We are not active anymore. Nothing in the pipeline, two years we've been doing it. Each year we tried a new supplier. Thai, then Koreans. We will try to buy from another source next year. It makes no sense to import, too long a transit time, and certification issues," the source said.

A major HDPE pipe producer in Europe said: "In the pipe business, you cannot do business that quickly because you need approval from the institutes concerned."

The strict certification requirements and the resultant low HDPE pipe resin imports to Europe are in stark contrast to commodity grades of polyethylene (PE) which are being hemmed in by growing Middle East production capacities.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Cuckoo James
+44 (0) 208 652 3214

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