Outages help drive US prices and global IPEX higher in August

06 September 2016 11:07 Source:ICIS News

Europe ethylene cracker margins fallLONDON (ICIS)--Higher petrochemical and polymer prices in the US in August were sufficient to lift the global ICIS petrochemical Index (IPEX) for the month by 0.7%.

Petrochemical and polymer prices in the US had been marking time but were pushed higher in August largely as a heavy maintenance schedule and cracker outages crimped ethylene supply. August was also characterised by tightened propylene supply on a propane dehydrogenation unit restart and a propane splitter outage.

At a value of 218.85, the global IPEX represents a US index up 2.0%; a 0.30% increase in the northeast Asia regional IPEX; and an increase in the IPEX for northwest Europe of 0.06%. The marginal increase in US dollar denominated prices in Europe is representative of the movement of base prices and the value of the euro against the dollar.

Compressor trips and power failures hit US crackers in August. Running largely on ethane, and some on other natural gas liquids (NGLs), ethylene supply was impacted. C2 and C3 spot prices surged over the course of the month, the impact being felt but resisted downstream given slow growth in some product markets.

The US ethylene contract price was on average 9.1% higher in August compared with July at 33 cents/lb or $727.5/tonne. The US Gulf Coast pipeline grade propylene price was up 10.4% at 37 cents/lb or $815.7/tonne. Polypropylene prices were higher but the polyethylene price flat. The US Gulf free on board (FOB) benzene contract price was up 6.8%.

The regional IPEXs are calculated based on price movements for a basket of 12 petrochemicals and plastics*. The regional and global IPEX monthly values can be subject to change as monthly contract prices are agreed in the regions. For August 2016 the only regional IPEX contract price not to settle was US styrene.

Global IPEX August 2016

*The 12 petrochemicals in the IPEX basket at ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, toluene, paraxylene, styrene, polystyrene (PS), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene, methanol and PVC.

Download global and regional ICIS IPEX data here
View the full IPEX methodology

By Nigel Davis