Americas top stories: weekly summary

03 October 2016 15:00 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Americas for the week ended 2 October 2016.

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EPCA ’16: US C3 price spike caught market off-guard – source
The recent spike in US propylene contract prices caught the downstream derivative market off-guard, an oxo-alcohol producer said on Sunday. “We were forecasting a bump but not [to the level] of that second month,” the source said on the sidelines of the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting in Budapest, Hungary.

EPCA ’16: Dow’s Texas PDH plant running at designed rates – source
Dow Chemical’s propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant in Freeport, Texas, is currently running at designed rates following a series of hiccups that have occurred since the plant’s startup in December 2015, a source said on Sunday. “The PDH unit hasn’t been the most reliable so far, but it’s running today,” the source said on the sidelines of the 50th European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting in Budapest, Hungary.

US base oils grapple with new regulations
The US base oil industry is grappling with evolving engine oils as the effects of federal regulatory mandates and stipulations enter commercial vehicle markets with force in 2017.  One area of effort is the heavy-duty engine oils, for which the American Petroleum Institute (API) has a category called “Proposed Category 11” or “PC-11”.

Oct BD rise in first single settlement since '11
US butadiene (BD) contracts for October have fully settled higher at 46 cents/lb ($1,014/tonne), marking the first single-priced settlement in nearly five years. Market sources said that the October settlement reflects a 2 cent/lb increase in apparent market movement amid remaining tightness in domestic supply, further supported by an uptrend in global prices.

PU industry prepare for new blowing agents
The polyurethanes industry is preparing for the gradual phase out of a whole class of blowing agents, to be replaced by a newer generation that are much less potent greenhouse gases. In fact, one of the themes of this year's Polyurethanes Technical Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, has been this new generation of blowing agents, which will replace hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Argentina: the new face of the petrochem market
Argentineans said yes last year to presidential candidate Mauricio Macri’s slogan of “Cambiemos,” or “Let’s Change.” Since his election, change has come fast and furious. His government has depreciated the domestic currency by about 40%, removed the country's restrictive foreign-exchange controls, lowered taxes on exports; reduced energy subsidies, and put an end to the long battle with creditors over a debt default in 2001 that now allows the country to access international capital markets.

Ongoing tightness leads to US Sep propylene contract hike
After a very protracted settlement process and extensive price discussions with buyers and sellers wide apart, US propylene contracts for September fully settled late on Tuesday at a hefty increase of 6 cents/lb amid continued tightness in overall supply. Several market participants confirmed that the agreement was market-wide, putting September contracts for polymer-grade propylene (PGP) at 43.0 cents/lb ($948/tonne) and chemical-grade propylene (CGP) at 41.5 cents/lb.

Spot benzene falls on increased supply
US benzene spot prices were lower despite gains in upstream markets as supply for the aromatic improves. Benzene prices had been supported since mid-June on limited imports and reduced on-purpose production. According to the most recent data from the US International Trade Commission (ITC), benzene imports from April to July have been at low levels. Market sources have said August and early September imports have remained low.

Sept PVC rolls over for third straight month
US polyvinyl chloride prices for September contracts rolled over at August levels, the third straight month of flat pricing. Contracts held within the previously published range of 68-72 cents/lb ($1,499-1,587/tonne) for pipe-grade material and 70-74 cents/lb for general-purpose resins. Spot export prices moved higher during the week, though.

Dow announces order control for MMA in N America
Dow Chemical has announced a 100% order control for methyl methacrylate (MMA) in North America, effective immediately or as individual contract terms allow. This action is being taken as the company is currently experiencing increased demand due to industry reliability issues. Also included in Dow’s was US glacial acrylic acid (GAA) and methyl acrylate (methyl-A).

Sept PET rise on feedstocks, demand
US polyethylene terephthalate (PET) contracts for September were assessed higher, tracking movement in upstream September paraxylene (PX) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) markets, as well as demand being better in September year on year. PET resin and bottle demand in the US is expected to slow in October due to cooler weather and tapering soft drink activity.

Sept PE settles up 5 cents/lb, third hike this year
US September polyethylene (PE) contracts have settled up 5 cents/lb ($110/tonne). The increase brings September high-density polyethylene (HDPE) blow-moulding contracts to 73-75 cents/lb, as assessed by ICIS. The increase marks only the third PE monthly hike this year. Contracts fell in the first two months, rose in March and April and then rolled over in May through August.

By Staff Reporter