European ethanolamines tight, Russian product limited

12 February 2014 16:05 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--European ethanolamine supply has tightened further, said sources on Wednesday, as production problems in Russia and Asia continued to limit imports.

Sintez OKA, the leading Russian producer of ethanolamines, confirmed that it continued to run at reduced operating rates this week for its unit in Dzerzhinsk, Russia, with full operation of the plant delayed. The production problems are due to shortages of raw material ethylene oxide (EO).

"We have limited quantities for export", said a company source.

South Korea’s Lotte Chemical is running its 50,000 tonne/year ethanolamines plant at Jiaxin city in China at 60% of capacity following a regular turnaround, according to a source close to the company. The plant was restarted on 30 January, after having been taken off line on 10 January as scheduled.

The production problems are exacerbated by more limited imports from the US, particularly of di-ethanolamine (DEA). DEA is used in the manufacture of the herbicide glyphosate, which is seeing strong seasonal demand ahead of the North American planting season.

There is said to be some upward pricing pressure as a result of more limited product availability, despite a fall in the price of key raw material ethylene.

 “The very cheap imports are not existing for TEA [tri-ethanolamine], and DEA – this is helping price levels for this product”, said one major European producer.

“There’s not much product. [If it]continues like that prices will increase”, said one distributor.

However, price movements are gradual in a market where spot volumes are limited, and most business is done on monthly or quarterly contracts.

“We don’t have many enquiries on ethanolamines – it’s a less liquid market. ….We see some shortness but no reason to increase prices…. You won't see movement so quickly on ethanolamines” said one trader.

By Rhian O'Connor