HOUSTON (ICIS)--US chlor-alkali production eased back slightly in December as producers stepped down output for the slow construction season and year-end inventory reductions, according to data released Thursday by The Chlorine Institute.
Chlor-alkali production ticked down to 84% of effective capacity in December from 85% in November, ending 2013 with lower cumulative production of chlorine and caustic soda compared with 2012, the data from the Arlington, Virginia-based institute revealed.
US chlorine production in December was down to 966,858 short tons (877,367 tonnes) from a little more than 1m tons in November, according to The Chlorine Institute’s data.
Caustic soda production was down to 996,534 tons compared with 1.05m tons in November.
For the year, US chlor-alkali producers manufactured 11.36m tons of chlorine, down a little less than 1% from 11.44m tons in 2012.
Caustic soda production for the year fell 1% to 11.83m tons from 11.96m tons in 2012, according to the data.
US operating rates have been running below 2012 levels since June except for November’s 85% compared with 2012’s 83%.
US producers have said that demand for downstream polyvinyl chloride (PVC) remained stronger than seasonally expected through December.
But new capacity and reduced demand for caustic soda from the aluminium producers, and plant outages and capacity cutbacks in that sector, have increased supply during the period.Major US chlor-alkali producers include Axiall, Dow Chemical, Formosa, Olin, Occidental Chemical (OxyChem), Shintech and Westlake.