Updated to Q2 2015
In the US, producers of polyethylene (PE) are trying to stop the slide in prices that began late last year as a result of the plunging oil market by raising prices beginning on 1 May. Current logistics problems provide some support for a hike, but buyers remind that supply remains plentiful. Meanwhile, there is talk of prices rolling over in April to soften the blow of the possible increases in May.
PE availability in Europe has tightened considerably over the past month, and some PE grades are now short. Many converters admit they are now more concerned over availability than cost, and several have said they will be forced to close lines in April. Several cases of force majeure, fewer imported volumes and better-than-expected demand have led to the current tightness. Several producers have said they expect this to continue into June, and all eyes are on arbitrage opportunities to bring relief to Europe in the form of imports.
PE supply in Asia is expected to be tight in April and the first half of May amid several maintenance shutdowns in the region. Hence, prices are expected to be firm in April, and soften in May as supply tightness eases. Demand for PE may drop in June because some Chinese downstream plastic processors may decrease their operating rates as a result of electricity shortages in summer.
Although the economic volatility faced by Latin America is keeping customers from restocking, the PE outlook for the second quarter remains positive, as new plant projects are underway. Prices could continue to rise, with a possible hike in May, because of global market trends in Europe, the US and Asia, and domestic devaluation.
Traditionally, China has been heavily reliant on olefins imports. However, with the rapid development of the coal-to-olefins (CTO) industry, the country is now gradually able to produce its own supply.
ICIS recently launched two detailed reports providing expert analyses of the changing landscape of the Chinese olefins industry. A preview of the reports, featuring an extract from the chapter on the status of China’s olefins industry development, has been made available for you to view.
Access and download the polyethylene methodology and consultations documents.Polyethylene methodology
ICIS Middle East Correspondent, Fadhil Muhammad, was recently in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and has written an article on the volatility of crude prices and its impact on polymer prices in the country.
Get an exclusive look at the article which includes commentary from key market players on the latest developments in the Saudi polymers market.
An expert view of supply and demand data for the global polyolefins market is available via our online supply and demand database.
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As polymer producers, processors and users ready themselves for the NPE2015 plastics event in Orlando, Florida, in March, ICIS - in association with organiser SPI - takes a look at industry developments and what will be on show at the meeting.
The three main types of polyethylene (PE) are low density PE (LDPE), linear low density PE (LLDPE) and high density PE (HDPE).
HDPE is a thermoplastic white solid whose molecular chains are comparatively straight and closely aligned. It is resistant to most chemicals, insoluble in organic solvents and has high impact and tensile strength.
LLDPE is a thermoplastic, translucent white solid whose chains are comparatively straight and closely aligned, and has a lower density than HDPE.
LDPE is a thermoplastic white solid which has highly branched and widely spaced molecular chains.
End uses of HDPE include blow-moulding applications such as bottles, packaging containers, drums, fuel tanks for automobiles, toys and house wares. Injection-moulded articles made from HDPE include crates, pallets, packaging containers and caps, paint cans, house wares and toys.
LLDPE’s short chain branching gives it higher tensile strength, puncture and anti-tear properties, making it particularly suitable for high strength film applications.
LDPE is used mainly in film applications for both packaging and non-packaging uses. Other markets include extrusion coatings, sheathing in cables and injection moulding applications.
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