UK HCl supply to tighten on INEOS Runcorn PVC unit closure

22 March 2013 13:54  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Availability of hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the UK market is expected to tighten in the short term, owing to the restructuring of the INEOS ChlorVinyls polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Runcorn unit, sources said on Friday.

HCl is a by-product of PVC production.

“The INEOS restructuring in March and April will cause a restriction in supply [of HCl],” an HCl distributor source said. “The outage will cause a 30% reduction in availability in the UK market permanently.”

The distributor said the market would go from balanced to tight in the short term.

“People will need to look into importing from European countries, but we need to get the infrastructure in place. There is quite a lot of legislation to consider.”

The source added that worldwide availability of suitable rubber-lined ships to transport HCl is limited. “[The sector] will need some kind of investment in the long run,” the source said.

“In the short term, we can use road barrels, but there aren’t many of those and they are expensive. The market [in the UK] will be tight until the fourth quarter at least,” the source added.

The European HCl market is quite regionalised owing to difficulties in transporting the product.

A German supplier said: “I think in general the announced changes at INEOS are quite interesting, certainly from a caustic soda perspective. As an outsider, it is difficult to judge how the net balances look. For sure, it will have changes in the balances and from a tendency point of view, it should be tighter in the UK.”

Sources said there are minor regional differences in HCl availability, but overall Germany and the Benelux regions are stable.

HCl demand in Europe went down slightly in the fourth quarter on weakened macroeconomic conditions, and has remained steady with reasonable demand, sources said.

INEOS ChlorVinyls Runcorn unit has a capacity of 105,000 tonnes/year of PVC, according to ICIS data.

By: Helena Strathearn
+44 208 652 3214

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