US ethylene spot prices fall on supply, lower ethane costs

Source: ICIS News

2019/03/15

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US ethylene spot prices fell amid lengthy supply and a decline for upstream ethane costs.

US ethylene spot prices were assessed on Friday at 15.00 cents/lb ($311/tonne), compared with 14.75-16.25 cents/lb in the previous week.

Production continues to outpace consumption despite new derivative unit start-ups and some delays to new crackers.

Sasol's 1.5m tonne/year cracker at its Lake Charles Chemical Project (LCCP) in Louisiana had been expected to be online in February, but is now expected to start-up in July.

Shintech's 500,000 tonne/year cracker, also in Louisiana, is beginning commissioning. The cracker had been expected to be mechanically complete at the end of 2018, but fell behind schedule.

A new polyethylene (PE) unit started up at the Sasol facility in Louisiana. An ethylene glycol (EG) unit started up at a Lotte Chemical facility, also in Louisiana. Both units continue to ramp up.

Upcoming turnarounds, with two crackers scheduled to begin maintenance in March and April, may begin to bring the ethylene market into a more balanced position. However, this will be followed by additional cracker start-ups expected in the second half of the year.

Overall, ethylene supply is expected to be on the lengthy side during most of 2019.

Major US ethylene producers include Chevron Phillips Chemical, DowDuPont, ExxonMobil, INEOS Olefins & Polymers, LyondellBasell and Shell Chemical.