Europe chlorinated solvents producers target March price hikes

26 February 2013 17:01  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--European producers of methylene chloride and perchloroethylene (perc) are targeting price increases for March, market sources said on Tuesday.

One producer said it is seeking to raise its prices by €60/tonne ($79/tonne) for both products, having been unable to push through February hikes because other sellers offered rollovers.

The source had noted that supply and demand were good for chlorinated solvents, but emphasised that margins were not sustainable.

Another producer said it would target small hikes for both products in March, observing that “prices are really very, very low”.

However, the source also sounded a cautionary note, saying that “we don’t want to lose volumes,” and added that it would accept rollovers if its sales volumes were threatened.

A perc producer suggested that prices had stabilised, and said it understood that one of its competitors had been unsuccessful in its attempt to raise prices by €30-40/tonne.

“Nevertheless it is the first indication that prices could go slowly up”, the producer observed.

It is common for routine maintenance work at European plants to take place during the second quarter, which could potentially tighten supply in the coming months.

Dow is planning to conduct routine maintenance at its perc plant in Stade, Germany, during the second quarter, the company said in a statement.

The turnaround will take place in parallel with a shutdown at the company’s chlor-alkali plant.

Dow’s perc unit at Stade has a nameplate capacity of 100,000 tonnes/year, according to ICIS data.

Earlier in the month, a reseller described the chlorinated solvents market as reasonably balanced, and said it was just possible that March could bring an upward trend on pricing.

A methylene chloride buyer said it had managed to secure price cuts of €20/tonne for February, although this could not be confirmed on the sell side.

The buyer explained that its offtake was poor, the macroeconomic situation remained problematic, and the low-demand season for its products would persist until March.

Chlorinated solvents prices were eroded in the second half of 2012 by a combination of high European production rates and continuing macroeconomic weakness, which undermined demand.

Market participants said that demand has picked up since the beginning of the year, although availability remains good.

Domestic spot prices were assessed on Tuesday at €640-700/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) and €540-620/tonne FD Med (Mediterranean) for methylene chloride, and €970-1,020/tonne FD NWE and €935-980/tonne FD Med for perc.

Methylene chloride – the most widely used of the chlorinated solvents – has a variety of applications, such as paint and varnish removal, as an extraction medium/process solvent, and electronics and metal cleaning.

Methylene chloride producers in Europe include Solvay, AkzoNobel, KEM ONE, INEOS ChlorVinyls and Dow.

Perc is used in several applications, the principal ones being dry-cleaning and metal-cleaning. European producers include Dow, Solvay, Anwil and Spolchemie.

($1 = €0.76)


By: Samuel Weatherlake
+44 20 8652 3214



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