Our Caustic Soda reports are published weekly in Asia, China, Europe, Latin America and the US, giving industry participants a truly global view of market movements.
There are solid and liquid spot quotations, depending on the region, and market news including information on shipping, international trade, upstream and downstream movements, as well as production issues. This analysis and intelligence equips you with the information you need to make vital business assessments.
Updated to Q4 2019
Integrated chlor-alkali producers continued their high operating rates in order to feed caustic soda’s co-product chlorine into the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Since the electrolysis of brine produces caustic soda and chlorine in a fixed 1.1:1 ratio, the influx of caustic soda added to the supply overhang in the region.
Slowing global economic growth caused by the US-China trade war weighed on regional sentiment. With caustic soda seeing diverse end-use in the manufacture of pulp and paper products, alumina, soap, water treatment and textiles, decelerating growth worldwide adversely affected downstream demand, especially in the alumina sector.
European caustic soda supply tightened in the fourth quarter because of production issues and reduced capacity utilisation. Dow’s Stade plant began to suffer technical difficulties in November, while strikes in France reduced production and delayed deliveries in December. On top of that, more than one producer reduced caustic/chlorine production due to market reasons. Iberia saw the opposite trend because of capacity increases and greater imports from northwest Europe.
European caustic soda demand fell in the fourth quarter. Caustic soda consumption in the pulp and paper industry in the Nordic countries fell because of the weaker European economy. Players also saw an increase in the substitution of European product with imports. Demand fell in November and December in line with seasonal trends and destocking, with buyers reluctant to make purchases ahead of the year end.
Caustic soda supply in Latin America during the fourth quarter 2019 was abundant. Caustic soda demand from Brazil’s alumina refiner Alunorte slightly improved as the company raised operating rates to about 80% of capacity since local authorities lifted restrictions due to concerns about environmental contamination. Availability was ample despite the salt extraction halt in Alagoas that resulted in shortage of brine and reduced caustic soda production. Shipments of US product to Brazil were frequent.
Caustic soda demand in Latin America during the fourth quarter 2019 was sluggish due to oversupply, except for the May-July period when subsidence at the Alagoas salt mine resulted in shortage of brine and buyers tried to find alternative suppliers. Demand in Argentina was weak on the country’s economic and political issues, high inflation and currency devaluation. Demand in Mexico was moderate, but large availability from the US created a strong competitive environment.
Fourth quarter supply dipped slightly on planned maintenance activity after a period of long supply during the second and third quarters. While the seasonal decline in supply helped reduce inventory, the quarter ended with ample supply to meet market demand and prices remained weak through the quarter. The supply overhang held due to weaker demand from the alumina and pulp and paper end-use sectors, trends that continued through the quarter.
Weak performance in important end-use sectors, low oil prices and reduced manufacturing activity in the US and globally all weighed on demand during the fourth quarter of 2019. Low aluminium prices and reduced operating rates and plant closures among pulp and paper mills provided the sharpest demand declines in those weakened industries. Slower demand in Latin American economies weakened US exports to South America, the most important market for US offshore sales.
We offer the following regional Caustic soda analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Caustic soda marketplace.
News & analysis
Regional price assessments, published daily or weekly, enabling you to keep track of trading prices, understand price drivers/fluctuations and set a benchmark for contract price settl ements. ICIS offers reports on over 180 commodities across the global petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets. Information covered in our price reports includes:
Information is accessed online, via the ICIS dashboard service and is configurable to suit your preferences.
Produced by the ICIS Consulting team, these reports give a robust rolling 12-month price forecast, trade balances and in-depth analysis into where markets are heading – providing a valuable tool to support your short- to medium-term plans.
ICIS pricing intelligence is delivered to you online via the ICIS dashboard. Here you can view your reports and also access other useful services including related news, analysis, historical data and market alerts.
ICIS dashboard also makes it easy for you to create pricing charts, download price history and export data to create tailored analytical models.
ICIS weekly margin reports deliver the detail you need to understand how production costs and prices are affecting margins, enabling you to judge the likely impact on your business and optimise your upstream and downstream business decisions.
The Supply and Demand Window on the ICIS Dashboard provides a snapshot view of historical and forecast information for supply and demand, production capacity and trade flows – a key tool to help safeguard future investments within the chemicals market.
24-hour global coverage of breaking news in the petrochemical industry, including updates on production, shutdowns and key transacted deals, keeping you informed of market developments as they happen. The ICIS news service allows you to customise the market alerts delivered to your email inbox, providing the business-critical information you need straightaway.
If you want to keep updated on the factors driving price movements in the global chemical markets, ICIS Chemical Business provides a summary of the information you need to support your business decisions. Every week, our global team of experts digests and summarises the key issues and their potential impact on the market – all in one magazine.
An expert view of supply and demand comprising four fully-reconciled databases, giving you access to extensive data for more than 100 markets. Information is included on global and regional trade flows, production, capacity and sources of demand in the short-, medium- and long-term. Data can be downloaded, customised and queried to support your planning requirements and your strategic decisions.
ICIS provides specialist training courses across the global petrochemicals, base oils and fertilizers industries. Our training team of industry experts can help you increase your knowledge of the industry and gain the insight and know-how needed to operate and trade effectively.
ICIS produces a series of highly informative and timely conferences. Extensive research is carried out to ensure that each programme delivers the information you need and addresses current industry issues. We source speakers who have the appropriate expertise and experience to deliver excellent quality papers.
Working closely with you to understand your strategies, challenges and ambitions, the ICIS consulting team deliver tailored advice and solutions to suit your unique requirements. With many years’ experience of guiding business leadership teams, we show you how market conditions can make a positive or negative impact on your long-term plans.
ICIS expert consultants can provide your organisation with the insight, intelligence and data needed to build and grow your business in China. We can help you to gain a clear view on the short and long-term supply and demand picture in the chemicals, energy, iron and steel, non-ferrous metals and paper and pulp markets in China.
ICIS price assessments are based on information gathered from a wide cross-section of the market, comprising consumers, producers, traders and distributors from more than 250 reporters world-wide. Confirmed deals, verified by both buyer and seller, provide the foundation of our price assessments.
Our in-depth market knowledge drives our specialist focus, as we recognise the importance of individual market dynamics and not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Over 25 years of reporting on key chemicals markets, including Caustic soda, has brought global recognition of our methodology as being unbiased, authoritative and rigorous in preserving our editorial integrity. Our global network of reporters in Houston, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Mumbai, Perth and Moscow ensures unrivalled coverage of established and emerging markets.
Caustic soda, with its co-product chlorine, is produced via an electrolysis of brine, in the ratio of one part chlorine to 1.1 parts caustic soda.
Caustic soda is a white, deliquescent solid in various forms with no odour. It is very soluble in ethyl alcohol and water. It is a strong base, reacts violently with acid and is corrosive in moist air to metals like zinc, aluminium, tin and lead forming a combustible/explosive gas (hydrogen). It rapidly absorbs carbon dioxide and water from air while contact with moisture or water may generate heat.
Its main uses are in the manufacture of pulp and paper, alumina, soap and detergents, petroleum products and chemical production. Other applications include water treatment, food, textiles, metal processing, mining, glass making and others.
The production of alumina from bauxite is a major end-use application for caustic soda.
Caustic soda is a basic feedstock in the manufacture of a wide range of chemicals. It is used as an intermediate and a reactant in processes that produce solvents, plastics, synthetic fibres, bleach, adhesives, coatings, herbicides, dyes, inks and pharmaceuticals.
Other uses include the saponification or conversion of fat, tallow and vegetable oils in soap manufacture, and in the manufacture of surfactants for detergents. It is used in the petroleum and natural gas industries to remove acidic materials from hydrocarbons and off-gases. In the textile sector, it is used in the chemical processing of cotton and the dyeing of synthetic fibres.
Chlor alkali production in the US and Brazil
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US January propylene contracts settled at a rollover from the prior month for the majority of the market on Friday, despite falling spot prices during the negotiations. The...Read
MOSCOW (MRC)--Overall imports of general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) and high impact polystyrene (HIPS) to Russia rose in 2019 by 10% year on year to 48,200 tonnes, according to MRC’s DataScope...Read
It has been a tough period for chlor-alkali producers as recent months showed a sharp downturn in margins for caustic soda. This scenario threatens to bring to an end the period of strong margins, despite some signs of a limited rebound earlier in Q4 2019. Across all major markets, calculated margins based on the co-production of caustic soda and ethylene dichloride (EDC) have weakened substantially since October 2018.
Like many others, if you are looking for ways to unveil answers to key industry questions then come and join us at the 24th World Chlor-alkali Conference organised by ICIS and Tecnon Orbichem. This 1.5 day event has been a home for key industry players in the value chain, having welcomed hundreds of delegates each year. Take a first look at the key offerings in 2020.