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.
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Updated to Q3 2018
South Korea’s shipments are expected to slow down in the fourth quarter, owing to a series of cracker turnarounds in South Korea. The decline in supply will likely be outweighed by higher production in Japan and southeast Asia, following the completion of cracker maintenance shutdowns, continued operating rate-cuts in the underperforming PE sector and strong exports from non-Asian suppliers.
China’s demand is expected to see support from healthy SM margins, the start-up of a 200,000 tonne/year EO unit and a domestic cracker turnaround. There are, however, concerns that the US-China trade war may weigh on the performance of some downstream sectors. Demand in Taiwan is unlikely to see any significant improvements amid high inventories.
Scheduled maintenance turnarounds are underway lasting through to mid-quarter and there are a couple of unplanned issues that are currently being dealt with too. Despite this, derivative outages and slower than expected demand in general has made for an already lengthier supply situation than was expected. Supply could lengthen further towards year-end depending on working capital considerations.
Once planned derivative maintenance is complete, normal demand levels should resume. However, there are concerns over polyethylene market developments in the face of new US capacities following a slower than expected September. Year-end working capital concerns could slow demand but a heavy cracker maintenance schedule in spring 2019 could offset this.
US ethylene supply is expected to remain ample throughout the fourth quarter as additional ethylene capacity comes on line. Several more crackers are expected to come on line in the fourth quarter. If none are delayed, the units would add more than 3m tonnes/year to US ethylene capacity. Earlier in the year, two new crackers had added 3m tonnes/year of ethylene capacity to the US market.
Some additional downstream projects are expected to come on line in the fourth quarter, although the increase in demand is not expected to offset the increase in ethylene production. Most new capacity is geared toward exporting derivatives, so trade tensions may cause headwinds for the growth of derivative markets and for the growth of ethylene demand.
We offer the following regional Ethylene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Ethylene marketplace.
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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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