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China’s ethanolamines prices may rise on tight cargo availability

ICIS News : 1-Aug-13 08:01

By Felicia Loo

AsiaSINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s ethanolamines prices in the domestic market are likely to nudge higher on tighter availability of both imported material and locally produced supply, market players said on Thursday.

The supply situation was tightened in response to plant maintenance within the country as well as in other parts of Asia, they added.

“We are not even offering any more [MEA] supply because there isn’t any material available,” said a Chinese distributor, referring to monoethanolamines.

In the week ended 31 July, MEA prices in China rose by yuan (CNY) 100-200/tonne ($16-33/tonne) to CNY10,500-11,200/tonne ex-warehouse (EXWH) east China basis, according to ICIS.

Prices of DEA increased by CNY100-200/tonne to CNY11,000-11,300/tonne EXWH while TEA prices rose by CNY100-300/tonne to CNY12,000-12,300/tonne EXWH over the same period, ICIS data showed.

Prices for all three grades were inching closer to the levels seen four weeks ago, the data indicated.

“Supplies are limited,” said another market player.

A slew of plant maintenance issues were draining the cargo availability in the market, players said.

BASF-YPC Co Ltd will take its 76,000 tonne/year ethanolamines plant at Nanjing in China off line for regular maintenance from 10 August.

The plant, the largest ethanolamines unit in the country, will be shut for around two to three weeks.

The maintenance will coincide with the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, during which a mandatory shutdown of factories in the industrial belt was issued by the Chinese government to curb pollution.

Moreover, the absence of ethanolamines offers from Malaysia compounded the supply situation, market players said.

“There have been no offers from Malaysia,” said a Chinese distributor.

Although Malaysia’s PETRONAS Chemicals Group (PCG) restarted its 140,000 tonne/year ethylene oxide (EO) facility, including its 75,000 tonnes/year ethanolamines unit in Kerteh, Terengganu, on 24 July, the volumes are limited.

Earlier, PCG had declared a force majeure (FM) at its 140,000 tonne/year EO facility in Kerteh on 28 June, a company source had said.

The EO plant, along with the EO derivative units at the site, which includes the ethanolamines unit, was shut on 21 June because of equipment failure.

Meanwhile, the ethanolamines unit is scheduled for maintenance in early September, another source close to the company said. The turnaround will last for approximately 45 days, the source said.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s PTT Global is on track to shut its 50,000 tonne/year ethanolamines unit in Map Ta Phut starting in early August for maintenance, industry sources said. The plant will be taken off line for 7-10 days, they added.

Ethanolamines can be used for applications such as agrochemical production, surfactants, personal care and construction. Monoethanolamine (MEA) is produced by reacting ethylene oxide (EO) with ammonia. The chemical reaction also produces diethanolamines (DEA) and triethanolaminesTEA.

The feedstock ethylene oxide prices in eastern China remained at CNY10,000/tonne EXWH for three successive weeks in the week ended 31 July, following a decline of CNY500/tonne in the week ended 10 July, according to ICIS.

Demand wise, it remained mediocre given a seasonal dull consumption period, market players said.

However, the downstream players would still need to secure the material to cover their minimum requirements, they added.

“It may result in panic buying if prices continue to rise on tighter imported material available,” said one market player.

($1 = CNY6.13)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

By Felicia Loo

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