US March PS contracts edge higher on rising upstream costs, increased demand

Source: ICIS News

2019/03/22

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US March polystyrene (PS) contracts edged higher on Friday, rising by 1 cent/lb ($22/tonne), marking the first increase since September, as higher upstream costs and improving demand buoyed prices.

ICIS PS prices as assessed by ICIS on Friday are now at 99-109 cents/lb for GPPS and HIPS grades, DEL (delivered) US.

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US PS prices decreased by 2 cents/lb in January and by 7 cents/lb in December, and rolled over in February.

Suppliers had separately sought increases between 2-4 cents/lb for March.

Separate increase initiatives for April emerged this week.

Upstream, February styrene contracts settled at an increase, largely on the higher settlement for February benzene contract prices, which rose by 10 cents/gal.

Styrene spot prices were higher this week, which should keep upward pressure on prices for March contracts.

Styrene affects the PS market when supply gets tight. That is the case now, but the situation is not as extreme as in either 2017 or 2018.

Styrene supply has tightened because of turnarounds by two major producers.

AmSty recently completed a turnaround on one of two styrene lines at its St James facility in Louisiana.

LyondellBasell, the second largest styrene producer in North America, is expected to begin a turnaround at its 1.27m tonne/year styrene plant in Channelview, Texas, this month, but this has not been confirmed.

Styrene supply has also been negatively impacted by the weather.

Fog season on the Houston ship channel and high water levels on the Mississippi river have kept the attention of market participants.

A producer said that styrene movement has been hampered a bit, and that they are watching barge movements closely.

North American PS producers include AmSty, Group Idesa, INEOS Styrolution, Resirene and Total Petrochemicals USA.