Europe January ethanolamines up on price pressure, tightness

23 January 2013 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

(Recasts with response in 16th paragraph to previous quote)

LONDON (ICIS)--European January ethanolamines contract prices have risen in Europe following price pressure from major producers and some market tightness caused by unexpected production problems, sources said on Wednesday.

Monoethanolamine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) grades all moved up. Some sources said prices rose by €20-40/tonne ($40-53/tonne), while others said there were gains of €50-70/tonne.

For major contract buyers, with quarterly contracts in place, prices rolled over from the fourth to first quarter. January pre-discounted prices were assessed at €1,500-1,550/tonne for MEA.

DEA was valued a €1,150-1,200/tonne. TEA prices moved up according to some sources and rolled over according to others. January prices fell in a €1,520-1,600/tonne price range.

The settlements were all on a free delivered (FD) northwest Europe (NWE) basis.

Some ethanolamines producers announced intentions to increase prices before the major feedstock ethylene contract price settled.

Prior to the January ethylene settlement, which was finlly agreed at a rollover, two major ethanolamine producers announced target increases of €80-100/tonne.

Producers said availability has tightened in Europe because of the shutdown at INEOS Oxide’s Lavera facility in France and this had help push through intended targets.

However, buyers said they had not experienced any problems securing the volume needed to accommodate their own demand.

Some sources in the distribution market said the INEOS problems and the minor hiccup at AkzoNobel over the Christmas holidays simply moved the market from a long to a more balanced position.

Although no official statement has been given from INEOS Oxide in relation as to how the Lavera cracker problems have impacted on ethanolamine supply, European producers say they have been approached by INEOS Oxide to do swaps.

Large buyers stressed they had not experienced any problems with their orders.

One major buyer said: “From quarter four to quarter one there was some intention to increase on one contract but another did a rollover initially. Eventually we had a very small increase on one and a small decrease so as a weighted average will roll over, and we agreed this before the Lavera issue,” the major buyer said.

In relation to its downstream demand, the esterquat (fabric softener) producer said its demand so far this month had been the same as in 2013.

Another major buyer for esterquat production said: “Volumes are not going to be an issue because TEA produced at Lavera is only good for construction. There won’t be any big volume or availability issues for us. Neither of our major suppliers said they were short. In fact they said they were worried about demand.”

"TEA produced at the Lavera site is supplied for use in various applications," an INEOS Oxide source confirmed.

While offtake from the surfactants sector was steady, those buying TEA for the construction industry said January had got off to a slow start in terms of downstream demand.

“The year has started slowly. I believe there were some inventories available at customer sites on the one hand [and on the other] bad weather conditions,” a buyer of all TEA grades said.

The buyer added that it was not concerned about the availability of TEA, but added that demand was “not brilliant”.

For imported material, a trader quoted €1,380-1,430/tonne for MEA, €1,080-1,150/tonne for DEA and €1,400-1,450/tonne for TEA. All quotes were on a delivered duty paid (DDP) basis.

Ethanolamine’s can be used for applications such as agrochemical production, surfactants, personal care and construction.

MEA is produced by reacting ethylene oxide (EO) with ammonia. The chemical reaction also produces DEA and TEA.

($1 = €0.75)

By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214

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