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Updated to Q1 2018
Spot supply of ethylene dichloride (EDC) from the U.S. to Asia tightened considerably in Q1, largely due to major chlor-alkali producer Braskem's unplanned shutdown in mid-January in Maceio, southern Brazil. The plant outage, which lasted for about two months, absorbed some 30,000 tonnes of EDC from the US Gulf in February and March, in order to facilitate the plant's downstream polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production. Output from northeast Asia and southeast Asia were also curtailed, with several chloro-alkali plants on scheduled turnaround in Q1.
Harsh winter in a large part of Q1 caused the delay of some shipments from the US Gulf to Asia, resulting in heightened and urgent demand for spot cargoes from Asia, which were already limited. However, healthy margins from the caustic soda prices in Q1 have prompted integrated chlor-alkali producers in Asia to ramp up operating rates, lengthening supply of by-product chlorine, which is used in the production of EDC and VCM. With upstream ethylene prices in a downtrend for the first half of Q1, some importers found it more economical to produce EDC rather than import spot material.
Updated to Q1 2018
European ethylene dichloride (EDC) supply remained mostly constant in the first quarter. There were some logistics issues for EDC deliveries from January to February, which were related to freezing weather in several European countries. This also briefly reduced downstream polyvinyl chloride (PVC) demand. This caused some short stoppages for PVC and feedstock plants, however, the spot market did not suffer any major tightness as a result, because of low structural demand.
European EDC demand rose in Q1 2018 as a result of the global upward trend in EDC and downstream PVC prices in late 2017 and early 2018. Global PVC prices dipped towards the end of 2017, but then recovered in Q1 2018, which led to an increase in upstream EDC prices. As a result, European EDC spot prices ticked up slightly in March after being stable for the previous several months. However, spot demand remains structurally relatively low in Europe, except in the event of production problems, because most EDC capacity is integrated into producers' PVC systems.
Updated to Q1 2018
US supply during January slowed on a number of production hiccups that caused intermittent production runs. Then Braskem's chlor-alkali outage caused the company to buy EDC out of the US Gulf in order to supply its vinyls production. The company bought 28,000 tonnes through February and March that cut US spot export availability to zero.
Demand for US EDC during the first quarter was mixed, as PVC production began to suffer from a number of planned maintenances and mixed demand signals in international markets brought some question about price direction for derivative PVC.
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