Looking West for support

By Malini Hariharan

As Asian markets head towards a quiet week, producers are probably hoping that developments in other regions will support their efforts to raise prices once trading resumes after the Chinese New Year holidays in the first week of February.

European producers successfully raised February ethylene contract price by Euro25/tonne while propylene moved up by Euro35/tonne just when outages tightened supply in the region.

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Pic source: Axizon.com

Sabic’s 660,000 tonnes/year cracker at Geleen in the Nethernlands was taken offline on Thursday because of technical problems. The company expects to restart the plant at the end of next week. And Dow Chemical’s 590,000 tonnes/year cracker at Terneuzen in the Netherlands will be taken offline on 28 January for two weeks.

These cracker outages as well as, potentially, some possible problems at a couple of other sites, notably in Germany, were expected to exacerbate an already tighter-than-expected olefins supply situation, notes ICIS news.

Major polyethylene (PE) producers were targeting hikes in February with Dow looking at Euro100/tonne. PE prices had risen by €100-130/tonne in January.

In the US, two propylene producers have nominated a 3cents/lb ($66/tonne) increase in February contracts although a softening spot prices could fuel resistance from the polypropylene (PP) segment, which has seen margins disappear as monomer prices rose by 30% in January.

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