ICIS Ethylene price reports are covered weekly in Asia, Europe and US and also daily in Asia. Reports include analysis and market intelligence on contract and spot prices, margins, production issues, upstream and downstream news and any other influencing factor that is impacting price movements at that given time. In addition to weekly reports there are also margin reports for each region.
The vast array of information available on these markets can be received in a variety of formats and gives the subscriber confidence in making informed business decisions.
Updated to Q1 2019
Asia’s supply glut eased in early 2019 following the completion of year-end destocking by producers and as Chinese buyers built stock amid prolonged term discussions ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. Non-regional supply was capped by production hiccups in Europe. South Korean shipments slowed down from March following the start of a heavy cracker turnaround schedule in the country. Southeast Asia and Saudi Arabia supply was healthy amid downstream production issues and maintenance.
The market was supported by pre- and post- holiday buying in China in January and February. Buyers bought forward their procurement window during that period as they did not have sufficient term supply for their requirements. Contract negotiations stalled over a wide bid-offer gap. The sentiment of buyers turned cautious in March as downstream prices came under downward pressure from high inventory. Some companies cut output owing to weak margins and maintenance shutdowns.
European ethylene supply was long as the market moved into 2019 but a couple of unplanned cracker issues over the seasonal period and in early January, helped to reduce some of pressures of growing supplies, particularly since spot export opportunities to Asia were less attractive due to soft prices. There was talk of cracker reductions in some areas because of the inability to remove tonnes through exports, but this was not confirmed by cracker operators.
Demand was slow to pick up following the seasonal break. This was partly due to buyers having already prepared well for maintenance outages while taking advantage of the very low spot prices on offer as well as the lack of concern over ethylene supply. Uncertainties over the impacts of increasing imports of polyethylene (PE) from the US and the ongoing US-China trade war, also kept buyer confidence down the value chain at a low level.
US ethylene supply increased in the first quarter as strong production outpaced demand despite delays to cracker start-ups. One project was delayed to the second half of the year, while others are slower to start up than had been expected. A cracker which had been idled last year amid low ethylene prices was restarted in the first quarter and a cracker started in 2018 has been re-rated to a higher capacity due to better-than-expected performance.
US ethylene demand fell in the first quarter as downstream polyethylene (PE) production rates declined in January and February. Several PE projects have come online since late 2017, with much of that capacity geared towards export markets. However, the US-China trade war and a slowdown in the global economic growth rate have been headwinds in the expansion for US PE exports, allowing US PE inventories to build. PE is the largest consumer of US ethylene.
We offer the following regional Ethylene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Ethylene marketplace.
News & analysis
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Ethylene is the starting point for so many chemicals that have such an impact on our daily lives from polyethylene (PE) used in packaging, pipes through to ethylene glycol (EG) used in polyester and antifreeze.
Europe’s ethylene landscape has been more fluid and dynamic over the past two years than ever before. The advent of low oil prices in Q4 2014 led to record cracker margins, strong demand, and increased operating rates, which in turn was considered a factor in the unprecedented number of production problems in 2015.
Prices usually track crude oil and naphtha market developments very closely but the supply and demand situation can play a large part in determining contract and spot prices because of the challenges inherent in producing, transporting and consuming a gas.
European contract prices hit a bottom of €810/tonne in March 2016 but have been on a steady uptrend for the most part since then, gaining 16% largely on the back of a string of planned – and sometimes unplanned – cracker production issues.
European spot price developments over the past year have been tumultuous, falling about 21% in the first quarter, rising again by almost 30%, and then settling back as supply has eased
Ethylene is a colourless, odourless, extremely flammable compressed gas. It is slightly soluble in water and soluble in liquid hydrocarbons. It reacts with strong oxidants causing fire and is anexplosion hazard..
Ethylene Asia Margin Report Methodology
This document is intended to provide methodology support for customers receiving the ICIS Weekly Margin – Ethylene Asia report.
Ethylene China Margin Report Methodology
This document is intended to provide methodology support for customers receiving the ICIS Weekly Margin – Ethylene China report.
Ethylene Europe Margin Report Methodology
This document is intended to provide methodology support for customers receiving the ICIS Weekly Margin –Ethylene Europe report.
Ethylene US Margin Report Methodology
The main method of ethylene manufacture is by the thermal cracking of hydrocarbons. Both gaseous and liquid hydrocarbon feedstocks are used in the US, so this report examines two typical models.
Ethylene is a colourless, odourless, extremely flammable compressed gas with a faintly pleasant odour. It is slightly soluble in water and soluble in liquid hydrocarbons. It reacts with strong oxidants causing fire and explosion hazard.
Ethylene is mainly used to make polyethylene (PE). Low density polyethylene (LDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) mainly go into film applications such as food and non-food packaging, shrink and stretch film, and non-packaging uses. High density polyethylene (HDPE) is used primarily in blow moulding and injection moulding applications such as containers, drums, household goods, caps and pallets. HDPE can also be extruded into pipes for water, gas and irrigation, and film for refuse sacks, carrier bags and industrial lining.
Other major uses are ethylene oxide (EO), ethylene glycol (EG), vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and styrene.
Other derivatives include linear alpha olefins (LAO), detergent alcohols and plasticiser alcohols, vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), and various intermediates such as ethyl acetate and ethyl acrylate.
Ethylene is produced commercially by the steam cracking of a wide range of hydrocarbon feedstocks.
In Europe and Asia, ethylene is obtained mainly from cracking naphtha, gasoil and condensates. The cracking of ethane and propane is primarily carried out in the US, Canada and the Middle East.
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