EPCA ’13: Mixed signals for Q4 Europe styrene

07 October 2013 11:42  [Source: ICIS news]

BERLIN (ICIS)--Players remain uncertain about European styrene direction for the rest of 2013, with some potential tightness likely to be mitigated by slower demand, they said on Monday.

With Styrolution commencing a planned 65-day outage at its Texas City styrene monomer (SM) facility in Texas in early November, players expect fewer imports to head from the US into Europe next month.

“There is material arriving in October, but I’ve not heard of any vessels for November,” said one styrene consumer, speaking on the sidelines of the 47th annual European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting.

However, with styrenics players unlikely to build inventory levels in the fourth quarter, this could limit the effects on supply constraints on pricing in Europe.

Additionally, an upturn in propylene oxide (PO) production in line with seasonal demand may see ramped up operating rates from PO/SM units, helping to offset the lack of imports in November/December.

Demand remains mixed depending on end use sector, with construction relatively healthy while automotive and resins players continue to struggle.

“It seems doubtful that construction can support the European styrene market,” said one distribution source. “There isn’t any inventory building.”

Looking further ahead, a spate of Asian turnarounds in early 2014 could see US material diverted to the region away from Europe if pricing moves up in Asia.

However, European players are cautious about whether this would see a corresponding spike in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) region, as styrene demand is traditionally slow to start the new year ahead of the seasonal construction boom closer to the second quarter.

The EPCA meeting runs from 5-9 October

($1 = €0.74)

By: Truong Mellor
+44 208 652 3214

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