22 February 2014 00:02 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--Caustic soda consumption has levelled in Latin America as Brazilian alumina producer and major caustic buyer Alunorte gradually approaches normal operating conditions, regional industry participants said on Friday.
Although not yet at full rates, Alunorte’s operations continue to improve. Standard production levels are expected in the near future, but no clear timetable has been made available, according to market sources in Brazil.
With demand more in balance with supply in the Americas, caustic soda prices in Latin America are gauged as largely stable, according to industry sources.
Import prices for caustic soda are assessed at $445-470/dry metric tonne (dmt) CFR Brazil.
Caustic soda prices in the Americas could face downward pressure from the new Dow Chemical and Westlake chlor-alkali plants starting up in the US in the first half of this year. Caustic soda price direction will depend on when commercial material becomes available from the new facilities, sources said.
The cost of energy is another key factor in determining caustic soda prices. This week natural gas prices finished the week at above $6.00/MMBtu, up from $3.5-3.9/MMBtu in November.
Caustic soda demand in Latin America remains steady from major consuming sectors, including paper/pulp, soaps/detergents, and from the alumina industry now that Alunorte is approaching normal operations.
Caustic soda producers in Latin America are Braskem, Mexichem, and Solvay.
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