US spot ethylene bids rise after fatal Williams cracker blast

13 June 2013 21:45  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US front-month ethylene spot prices saw bid/offer levels increase in the wake of the fatal explosion and fire at Williams’s cracker in Geismar, Louisiana, on Thursday, while propylene prices held mostly steady.

Bid levels for US June ethylene increased to 57.0-57.5 cents/lb ($1,257-1,268/tonne, €943-951/tonne), up from a deal the previous day at 53.5 cents/lb.

If spot material were done above 57 cents/lb it would be the first front-month trade at that level since 21 May.

Spot ethylene prices had been declining in the past two weeks, tracking improved supply from several cracker restarts and cheap feedstock ethane.

Sources said they had not seen any front-month ethylene trades on Thursday, so spot prices could fall back to early-week levels.

Offers for front-month ethylene were heard as high as 65 cents/lb.

The fire and explosion at the Williams cracker had less of an effect on propylene markets, sources said.

US polymer-grade propylene (PGP) for June was heard bid at 61.75 cents/lb against offers at 63.50 cents/lb.

This is mostly in line with recent spot trades, which have been done at 62 cents/lb three times in the past two weeks.

The explosion and fire at the Williams cracker killed one person, governor Bobby Jindal said.

Some 73 people were injured in the incident at the olefins plant, located about 20 miles (32km) south of Baton Rouge, Jindal said. Earlier counts listed anywhere from 33 to 64 injuries from the incident.

Officials said it was too early to determine what exactly caused the explosion, which Williams spokesperson Tom Droege said occurred at about 08:37 local time (13:37 GMT). First-responders were dispatched shortly after, and the company initiated an emergency shutdown of valves at the site and isolated the unit where the incident occurred, he said.

State officials on Thursday afternoon said that the only flames at the site now were normal stack flares.

The Geismar facility annually produces about 1.3bn lb of ethylene and 90m lb of polymer-grade propylene (PGP), according to the company’s website.

The plant had been in the middle of a turnaround as it expands its ethylene capacity to 885,000 tonnes/year from 613,000 tonnes/year, officials said.

Additional reporting by Jeremy Pafford

($1 = €0.75)

By: John Dietrich

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