N America chlor-alkali op rates to stay below 80% in Q1 - Canexus

19 December 2012 16:59  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--Plant operating rates in North America’s chlor-alkali industry will likely remain under 80% in the first quarter of 2013 but then should begin rising modestly because of an expected improvement in the economy, Canada-based producer Canexus said in an outlook on Wednesday.

Canexus said that North American chlor-alkali operating rates fell to 78% in the 2012 fourth-quarter, from 85% in the third quarter, mainly because of reduced seasonal demand for water treatment and production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for export.

“Industry operating rates are expected to remain at this [2012 fourth quarter] level through the first quarter of 2013 and then increase modestly with expected economic improvement,” the company said.

North American hydrochloric acid production fell in the fourth quarter of 2012 due to annual maintenance outages at by-product producers on the US Gulf coast, Canexus said. 

However, acid demand is improving because of increased oil well fracturing activity in western Canada, the company said. Demand from well fracturing is expected to strengthen modestly in the first quarter of 2013, it added.

North American caustic soda production was constrained in the fourth quarter of 2012, in line with lower chlorine operating rates, Canexus said.

At the same time, domestic caustic soda demand remained strong.

Caustic soda export supply from China to the US west coast improved because of slower domestic demand in China, resulting in increased inventories for some export producers. However, China’s caustic soda exports should decline in the first quarter of 2013 because of lower chlorine operating rates in that country, Canexus said. 

Meanwhile, North America’s sodium chlorate industry should be able to maintain its high operating rates of about 95% for the foreseeable future because of new demand from the pulp and paper sector, Canexus said.


By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653



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