Europe olefin operating rates remain at 82%

C2 OR% Nov10.pngQ3 showed no real improvement in European cracker operating rates (OR%). As the chart shows, based on APPE data, these remained at 82% for the Q1 – Q3 period. Of course, this is much better than the 76% OR% seen in 2009, but it would not normally be a matter for celebration.

However, the ‘silver lining’ identified by the blog back in August has continued to support margins. EU refinery operating rates remained low because of the increasing gasoline surplus. And so there was little pressure to increase cracker operating rates. In addition, there were further force majeures, helping to restrict over-supply.

However, the latest IEA data on refinery OR% indicates these are now rising. This would make sense, as Europe’s refineries are primarily diesel-driven, and so rates usually increase as winter approaches. The scale of refinery operation dwarfs that of petchems, so producers will have to remain on alert for relatively small changes to have a major impact on their business.

But for the moment, the silver lining remains very welcome.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. Paul is also an invited member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such as oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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