Price and market trends: Europe ethanolamines prices fall on import pressure

28 June 2013 09:51  [Source: ICB]

Low volumes of monoethanolamine into the construction industry result in lower demand year on year

Europe monoethanolamine (MEA) prices have moved down in June, despite an increase in major feedstock ethylene, because of high stocks and low demand, sources said on 19 June.

June prices have moved down by €30/tonne ($40/tonne) for MEA, reflecting the price pressure it has come under from lower-than-expected demand and competitively priced imports on offer in Europe in recent weeks.

Most sources quoted MEA in the €1,400s/tonne. Prices were also heard on offer in the mid €1,300s/tonne. Diethanolamine (DEA) prices have held steady because the market is balanced to tight.

A range of prices for triethanolamine (TEA) are seen in the market, but most sources say TEA is not under as much pressure as MEA.

For June contracts , DEA is at €1,140-1,190/tonne, and TEA 99% is steady at €1,500-1,570/tonne.

"For MEA, what I noticed is there is no big movements and frankly speaking it's not worth making an effort for five euros. But there is a wide spread and we are not moving below €1,400/tonne," said a producer.

"For TEA, I have heard not all companies have TEA 99% available these days. Some customers are paying more and some are paying slightly less. We have a mixed scenario for TEA. Some producers can supply, others can't. Our demand for TEA in June is not too bad," the producer added.

A second European producer said it had seen the MEA market "under pressure" for a couple of weeks. "The MEA market's been under pressure from the usual imports and a trader is being very aggressive, but we don't need to push volumes at the moment," it added.

It said the lowest price it has seen for MEA was €1,340/tonne.

In relation to demand, the producer said: "Demand has not been that good. Q1 industry numbers were 10% below [the] same period last year, which is not brilliant."

A buyer said: "Low volumes into the construction industry is what is hitting demand. Activity is still not as good as some had hoped."

Speculation is now beginning regarding July pricing, the buyer said. "Much depends on ethylene contracts, but producers will not want to let numbers fall."

Prices for all three grades were quoted on a free delivered (FD) northwest Europe (NWE) basis.

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.

Additional reporting by Jane Gibson

By: Julia Meehan
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