Americas top stories: weekly summary

17 October 2016 15:00 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Americas for the week ended 16 October 2016.

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Access to credit hampers Latin America polymers market
Volatile exchange rates and a lack of access to credit are snarling petrochemical trade throughout the region, from Mexico to Argentina. A Mexican distributor – which imports polyethylene (PE), polypropylene, (PP) and polystyrene (PS) from the US and also sells domestically produced material – said customer payments are usually made 45-60 days after an order is placed.

Activists step up protests over US, Canada pipelines
First Nations Indian groups and climate activists on both sides of the border are targeting both planned and existing oil pipelines and other energy infrastructure. Last week, police in four US states arrested 10 climate change activists following disruptions of existing pipelines that ship oil sands and crude from Canada to the US.

US Oct epoxy contracts a battle for producers
The US epoxy resin market remains a challenge, producers said, with several price-increase nominations facing strong pushback. “There’s been acknowledgement that our costs have gone up from our customers,” a producer said. “But they’re still saying, ‘There’s too much product out there’.”

INSIGHT: Tight supply pushes US benzene to 2016 high in Q3
Low levels of imports into the US, reduced operating rates for on-purpose production and good consumption put prices for US benzene into a steep climb for most of the third quarter this year. Imports are an important part of the supply picture for US benzene due to structural shortness. In 2015, domestic production met only 73% of consumption.

US October MMA prices likely to see big increase
October is likely to see another increase in US methyl methacrylate (MMA) prices due to feedstock pressure. Sources are saying that proposed price increases are largely in line with expectations due to a recent run-up in upstream spot propylene prices. However, as propylene supply constraints begin to ease in October, it is possible that the proposed price increases will weaken as buyers push back.

US spot benzene lower in thin market
US spot benzene prices moved were lower on Friday, amid limited buying interest and a volatile week for upstream crude oil futures. Benzene values have trended lower since prices hit a high point in mid-August. As imports levels and on-purpose production rates increased in September, benzene prices moved lower.

US toluene prices step back as supply normalises
US spot toluene prices were assessed lower on the week as supply was said to be more comfortable. A trading source said that a production issue which had helped drive up prices had been addressed and that the market is accordingly feeling less upward pressure.

US PVC spot export prices move higher
Spot export prices for US polyvinyl chloride (PVC) moved higher during the week as higher prices in Asia helped move US prices up from their recent floor. Additionally, producers were separately indicating intentions to seek further increases for exports in November when US material is expected to be tight after a number of chlor-alkali maintenances in the US during that month.

Sentiment drives US ethylene volatility, overall plunge
US ethylene spot prices were volatile last week, but values slumped overall because of bearish sentiment stemming from expectations of improving supply, as well as from a fire in a derivative market. The week actually began with front-month October ethylene spot prices continuing the previous week’s uptrend. Sentiment became bullish on Tuesday as a force majeure was lifted in the downstream polyethylene (PE) market.

Reported fire at US Westlake facility roils spot markets
The US spot ethylene and styrene markets reacted quickly on Thursday to reports of a fire at Westlake Chemical's manufacturing facility in Calcasieu parish in Louisiana. Westlake said on Thursday that that it had contained a fire at the southeast corner of the facility. As news of the fire emerged in the downstream market, ethylene spot prices slumped by 11% on Thursday.

Propylene glycol may provide profitable market for glycerine
Propylene glycol (PG) production can provide glycerine makers with a profitable outlet for product, says Air Liquide director Peter Potschacher, speaking at the second ICIS Pan American Oleochemicals Conference in Miami. Potschacher pointed to technology developed previously that can convert glycerine to acetol and then to PG. It is a route, he said, that is less volatile than the petrochemical route of propylene to propylene oxide (PO) to PG.

US Q4 melamine prices little changed from Q3
Most US melamine buyers appear to be signing supply contracts for Q4 at prices ranging from a rollover to an increase of 1 cent/lb. The Q4 contract prices include both domestic production and melamine supplied from other countries. ICIS will likely settle its Q4 contract prices this week.

By Staff Reporter