Price and market trends: Ethanolamine March prices steady to firm, supply remains good

22 March 2013 09:19  [Source: ICB]

Looking ahead to the second quarter, sources agree this is typically the strongest time of year for demand

European ethanolamine prices are steady-to-firm moving from February to March, but supply remains ample for most grades and demand relatively flat from most derivatives, sources said.

One seller of monoethanolanine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) said its March prices are the same as February. "We've seen no changes [in price] to previous weeks. It's very quiet and we expected after the ethylene settlement that ethanolamine prices would increase," the seller said on 13 March.

The March ethylene contract settled at a €50/tonne ($65/tonne) increase from the previous month.

For March, the seller quoted MEA at €1,380-1,440/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe), TEA was quoted at €1,400/tonne, with DEA at €1,080-1,200/tonne.

"There are no availability problems, I see the market more long than short. Even with a producer having problems there has been no impact on the market," it added.

Others felt no major surge in demand but believed any length felt in January and February had evaporated. Sources agreed the second quarter typically brings the greatest demand, particularly for esterquats (clothes softener) and anything construction-related.

"We announced to our customers an increase of €50-75/tonne [for March]," a major producer said.

It said its March MEA price was "on average" €1,540/tonne FD NWE, with DEA €25/tonne above this price. Its lowest offer for TEA was now €1,200/tonne, it added.

Looking ahead to April, the producer said: "We will be firm on prices. Quarter two is always a strong quarter. MEA and TEA go into places where demand is better. People buy more fabric softener and construction only works when the weather is getting better."

A third seller of ethanolamine said it expects to see prices increase in April due of various outages taking place and because demand is typically at its strongest in the second quarter.

The selling source said its March prices were similar to February, although it saw TEA above €1,200/tonne. It said the increase in the fee of feedstock ethylene oxide (EO) had helped its business.

"What helps us most is the EO situation. The increase in the contract fees has applied more pressure," the producer said.

The March EO contract price assessed by ICIS increased by €41/tonne, reaching a record level at the high end of ranges for northwest Europe and the Mediterranean.

March contract prices were assessed at €1,429-1,596/tonne FD NWE and €1,484-1,641/tonne FD Med (Mediterranean).

Major German producer BASF will shut down its 500,000 tonne/year feedstock EO plant in Antwerp, Belgium, for the first three weeks of May for planned maintenance. This will mean halting ethanolamine operations, but BASF was unable to give exact dates.

INEOS Oxide also has EO outages planned: in late April at its 420,000 tonne/year plant in Antwerp, and at its 220,000 tonne/year plant in Lavera, France, in June.

By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214

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