Corrected: US May propylene contracts roll over on higher costs, lower demand

Author: Michael Sims


Correction: In the ICIS article "US May propylene contracts roll over on higher costs, lower demand" dated 27 May 2020, please read in the seventh paragraph that front-month May spot prices were ... 20.00-24.00 cents/lb ... instead of ... 21.50-24.00 cents/lb ... A corrected story follows.

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US May propylene contracts settled at a rollover from April, as rising feedstocks and less refinery production are being counter-balanced by coronavirus-softened demand.

The rollover puts May polymer-grade propylene (PGP) contracts at 26.0 cents/lb ($573/tonne) DEL (delivered) and chemical-grade propylene (CGP) at 24.5 cents/lb DEL.

The settlement ends a five-month streak of contract price decreases.

Spiking propane prices have altered propylene dynamics by decreasing the profitability of on-purpose propylene production and encouraging ethane cracking, which yields little propylene.

Compressed on-purpose margins, less cracker co-production and low refinery output are pressuring up propylene prices but not enough to outweigh the coronavirus impacts on demand.

These counter-balancing fundamentals have kept US propylene spot prices mostly steady month on month.

Front-month PGP traded in May at 20.00-24.00 cents/lb, compared with 21.25-24.75 in April.

The main outlet for propylene is as a feedstock for polypropylene (PP). Propylene is also used to produce acrylonitrile (ACN), propylene oxide (PO), a number of alcohols, cumene and acrylic acid.

Major US propylene producers include Chevron Phillips Chemical, Enterprise Products, ExxonMobil, Flint Hills Resources and Shell Chemical.

Visit the ICIS coronavirus topic page for analysis of the impact on chemical markets and links to latest news.

Thumnail picture of polypropylene (PP) bottle by Shutterstock