HOUSTON (ICIS)--US styrene spot prices firmed this week on the back of higher benzene spot prices and upcoming planned turnarounds.
The first turnaround will start in late January at a Louisiana styrene plant; one line at the plant is scheduled to be down 45 days.
January benzene contract prices hit the lowest level in 33 months, but spot prices have turned around this week. ICIS benzene spot prices on 10 January at $1.93/gal were up by 21 cents/gal from 3 January.
Styrene spot prices increased this week, and prices will likely follow the direction of benzene for the rest of January.
The US Gulf styrene spot market was largely inactive this week, with only one deal confirmed.
After falling for the better part of two months, key styrene prices in the global market began turning around in December. Most prices have been up and down since that time.
There was some discussion that styrene prices could be on the verge of jumping higher, as was the case in January of the last two years.
However, even though planned turnarounds are approaching, the affected production capacity is significantly lower than it was during the last two years. Additionally, China has largely been out of the market, which affects global product flows.
US December styrene contracts recently settled at an average decrease of 5 cents/lb from November.
The price drop comes on the heels of November contracts decreasing by an average of 4 cents/lb. Contract prices were also down by an average of 1.50 cents/lb in October.
ICIS styrene spot prices on Friday at 41.27 cents/lb FOB (free-on-board) US Gulf are up from 40.25 cents/lb one week earlier.
North American styrene producers include AmSty, INEOS Styrolution, LyondellBasell Chemical, Pemex, Shell Chemicals Canada, Total Petrochemicals and Westlake Styrene.