PVC export boom to Turkey supports EU chloralkali demand

Chemical companies

EU Cl2 Feb15European chloralkali producers ended up having a relatively good year in 2014, despite having been over-optimistic about likely demand levels in Q3.  They held operating rates at 78% in Q3, in line with H1 levels.  But realism soon prevailed, and producers quickly cut rates to average 75% in Q4 to compensate.

The chart shows the detail of developments since 2009 (based on EuroChlor data).  It highlights the annual change, to avoid seasonal fluctuations:

  • The red line shows the operating rate in %, and the black line shows the level of caustic soda stocks in KT
  • These are the key drivers – the industry obviously prefers high operating rates for chlorine, but has to keep stocks of co-product caustic under control
  • Overall, a good balance was achieved as chlorine production saw a 2% increase to 9.6MT versus 2013
  • At the same time, caustic stocks ended the year at a reasonable level of 250kt, 13% lower than in 2013

EU PVC Feb15The key to this relative success is shown in the second chart.  This focuses on PVC exports from the EU as these are critical for chlorine volumes.

Back in August, the clouds circling the Ukraine and Russia meant that sales to the Former Soviet Union were likely to weaken.  By November, data from Global Trade Information Services shows volumes were down 11% versus 2013 and 4% versus 2012.

But the good news was a recovery in sales to Turkey, which jumped 40% versus 2013 and 50% versus 2012. This success was due to increased volumes from France and Spain:

  • French sales to Turkey jumped 62% versus 2013 to 170kt, whilst Spanish sales jumped 68% to 60kt
  • As a result, US exports to Turkey fell by 21% to 170kt, despite its cost advantage from shale gas
  • Overall, this compensated for the doubling to 200kt of Mexican imports into the EU itself

The chloralkali business is the bedrock of European industry, due to the wide variety of its end-uses from pharmaceuticals to laundry products.  Its performance in 2013 highlights the increasingly difficult outlook for many areas of business, as well as its underlying resilience.


Markets pause for breath as oil traders enjoy upstream volatility


There are some signs of a recovery in some markets, but the overall picture is s...

Learn more

Discounts support EU auto sales as Paris plans diesel car ban


A mild winter, combined with 20% price discounts, has kept EU auto sales in grow...

Learn more
More posts
Look for Winners and Losers in 2021

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”. Lenin’s f...

Chemicals in the eye of the storm as UK heads for a WTO Brexit on 1 January

On Friday, the UK premier confirmed what many of us have expected for a long time. There is unlikely...

Chemical industry has key role in helping to create a more sustainable world

The chemical industry has a critical role to play in enabling the world to “build back better&...

Local circular plastics solutions to replace mega projects business model

NEW YORK (ICIS)–There will be a paradigm shift away from mega crackers producing massive volum...

Reshoring set to create Winners and Losers as advanced manufacturing takes over

Not many companies still operate in the same way as 500 years ago, or even 50 years ago. But in manu...

Polyethylene’s crisis will create Winners and Losers

Polyethylene markets (PE) are moving into a crisis, with margins in NE Asia already negative, as I h...

Day of reckoning approaches for US polyethylene expansions, and the European industry

Planning for future demand in petrochemicals and polymers used to be relatively easy during the Baby...

Stormy weather ahead for chemicals

Four serious challenges are on the horizon for the global petrochemical industry as I describe in my...


Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more


Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more