HOUSTON (ICIS)--The recent upswing in feedstock styrene spot prices has added upward pressure for US February expandable polystyrene (EPS) prices.
One EPS producer is evaluating February prices but is waiting until it sees a clearer trend before possibly making some sort of announcement.
US styrene prices are on the rise as the first of possibly three Q1 turnarounds has begun in the US Gulf.
INEOS Styrolution began a planned turnaround at its 770,000 tonne/yr Bayport styrene plant in Pasadena, Texas, earlier this month. The entire plant is shut down during the turnaround, which is expected to last until the middle of March.
A second US Gulf styrene producer is expected to conduct a catalyst regeneration for 10-14 days on one of its two styrene lines during the first quarter.
Because of the maintenance activities, the two largest styrene sellers will be out of the market until around the beginning of April.
Another styrene producer, which delayed a September turnaround at its Louisiana plant, could also conduct a turnaround in March or April.
ICIS spot styrene prices rose by 1.59 cents/lb last week, but feedstock benzene spot prices were largely flat last week.
ICIS benzene spot prices averaged $3.11/gal during the first 12 days of January, after averaging $3.31/gal during December. January benzene contracts settled at an average of $3.22/gal.
Tuesday ICIS EPS prices were 88-96 cents/lb for block and packaging grades, DEL (delivered) US.
North American EPS producers include Dart Polymers, Flint Hills Resources, Grupo Idesa, Nexkemia Petrochimie, NOVA Chemicals, Plasti-Fab, StyroChem International and Styropek.