06 February 2013 12:14 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--Price ideas for February ethanolamines contracts are mixed, with some sellers pushing for an increase of €20-40/tonne ($27-54/tonne) and others having rolled over their January prices, sources said on Wednesday.
A distributor of all three grades of material said: “We saw some suppliers who tried to increase the price but not by much, €20-30/tonne, but so far I have not concluded any business. Everybody is waiting and seeing what will happen. February is a short month, but I hope the market wakes up sooner or later.”
A European producer of ethanolamine spoke about its attempt to increase its price in February, but confirmed that its demand was not so strong.
“Business is quiet these days and there are less enquiries around. We went out with a price increase in January and we would like to cover the difference. We achieved €40/tonne on average in January and we are looking for the same in February,” the producer said.
In relation to market tightness, the producer did not feel that it was tight, but stressed that prices are “far too low” and “margins are unhealthy”.
Meanwhile, the price of major feedstock ethylene rolled over from January into February at €1,275/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe), which is the fourth consecutive month of it remaining unchanged.
However, ethanolamine prices increased in January, largely based on margin improvement and some imbalance in the market over the Christmas period caused by production problems.
While being fully aware of the problems at INEOS Oxide’s Lavera facility in France, very few sources have spoken about market tightness. Some suggest this is probably because their own demand is not so strong and imports are plentiful.
A major buyer consuming for the esterquats (clothes softener) market said that, comparing year-on-year, the first quarter of 2013 is weaker so far than the same period in 2012.
“Everybody is keeping inventories low and our suppliers complain that we are not ordering sufficient quantities,” the major buyer said.
A second smaller buyer said: “It’s a rollover for us on all three grades. Of course producers tried [to get an increase]. Order books for February are the same as last year and I don’t expect there to be any changes during the first half of this year.”
Looking ahead to the coming months, various outages are planned on ethylene oxide which in turn will impact on ethanolamine output.
Saudi Arabia’s Kayan Petrochemical, a subsidiary of SABIC will have planned shutdown at its 100,000 tonne/year plant at Al Jubail in the first quarter, which is expected to last for around 10 weeks.
A SABIC source said that it was still in a position to supply ethanolamines to the European market during the planned outage.
A Russian based producer said that it is exporting its material to northwest Europe in “sizeable amounts”, because of severe weather conditions in Russia dampening domestic demand.
In relation to its export demand, the producer said: “In Poland, demand is good like a year ago, but in Germany it is worse than a year ago.”
The producer said that it will be decreasing its export sales during the second half of March, which is when demand in its domestic market picks up.
Ethanolamines 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 = €0.74)
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