VIENNA (ICIS)--The fall in European methyl methacrylate (MMA) prices is expected to continue into 2019 until they reach what players consider a more sustainable level, sources said this week.
2018 was expected to be a year of two halves by many, with the first dominated by a major European stoppage, and then a re-balancing of the market generally expected.
However, the anticipated re-balance was delayed, with a force majeure and factors overseas providing pressure into the second half of the year.
However, while prices have not plummeted like some expected, there has been a gradual decrease, with higher decreases agreed come September and October on improved supply/demand fundamentals.
This trend is expected to continue into 2019, and there is discussion over the sustainability of prices and whether prices will ever reach the historical lows again, according to sources on the sidelines of the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting in Vienna.
Historical highs are also not seen as healthy for the market, with this having a detrimental impact on downstream margins.
The market does not expect the low prices of the past, with this preventing investment and maintenance for producers, a reason for the global shortage in the last years.
There is also an argument for feedstock and the higher cost position for producers, compared to a few years ago.
This pressure will continue into 2019, with propylene expected to remain in a balance to tight position, providing upward pressure for key feedstock acetone.
The EPCA meeting ran in Vienna on 8-10 October.