22 May 2013 23:59 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--European May ethanolamine prices have moved down as a result of the larger-than-expected drop in the value of major feedstock ethylene, market sources said on Wednesday.
A seller of ethanolamines said: “We saw ethylene down €100/tonne, and this is more than we were expecting. We are seeing lots of pressure on MEA [mono ethanolamine] due to stable demand. The market is globally long and there is a huge arbitrage.
“MEA we are seeing lots pressure and a reduction of €50-plus, but DEA [di ethanolomine] is a different picture, very different, and DEA is not that much under pressure - down €30 on average. TEA [tri ethanolamine] is somewhere between MEA and DEA. There is some competition going on for all three grades,” the seller added.
In terms of demand, the seller described it as “not bad, but not brilliant”.
While sources spoke about a variety of price movements from April to May, reductions were seen in most instances.
May prices were quoted at €1,480-1,520/tonne ($1,897-1,949/tonne) for monoethanolamine (MEA), which is down by €20-30/tonne from April.
Although some sources had seen no change in the value of diethanolamine (DEA), others said that the market had come under some price pressure.
DEA was valued at €1,140-1,190/tonne, down by €10/tonne on April levels.
A major ethanolamines maker, who sells DEA to the merchant market, said it rolled over its price from April to May.
“We rolled over our prices in May. There are not many imports and we don’t have lots of material, so we could afford to let people walk away. Demand is okay, but it’s not brilliant,” it said.
Triethanolamine (TEA) also moved down on the back of weaker feedstock costs and soft demand and was quoted at €1,500-1,570/tonne, down €20-30/tonne on April levels.
Prices for all three grades were quoted on a free delivered (FD) northwest Europe (NWE) basis.
A major producer, supplying all three grades of material described its prices as “flat”.
“For sure ethylene dropped and that is significant. [Ethanolamine] prices are slightly softer at €10-20/tonne and I would agree there is pressure because distributors are importing cheaper [material],” the producer said.
It also described its demand for the esterquats - clothes softener - market as solid and stable, but not booming.
In relation to the availability of imports outside the EU27, a major producer of clothes softener said; “European producers will have a tough time - the competition is circling. European producers are getting out-priced by others.”
Talking about its own demand so far into the second quarter, the producer said: “I was optimistic about Q2 [the second quarter] - I thought it would be average - but it is below average - demand has slowed and I don't know why. I think in Europe it’s because of the economic situation.”
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 = €0.78)
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