NE Asia propylene indicative prices rise on snug supply

Author: Joson Ng

2020/07/09

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Propylene indicative prices in northeast Asia were higher with limited firm discussions in the Chinese import market as supply was snug in the region.

As spot lots were limited, selling indications were at $820-850/tonne CFR (cost and freight) NE (northeast) Asia, up by $15-45/tonne compared with the high end of ICIS-assessed prices on 3 July.

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Demand was stable in China and buying indications were up slightly due to increased import parity of higher domestic prices.

Most discussions were on August arrivals, with some on the tail end of July.

In the Japanese import market, there were no firm talks since demand, while present in the country, was largely satisfied by domestic supply.

A cracker in the country was running at lower rates in the week due to issues at an ethylene downstream unit, causing an imbalance on the operator’s propylene system, some market sources said.

The operator has had to turn to the spot domestic market for propylene supply since downstream units were running fine.

With domestic propylene demand higher, fewer lots were available for exports.

Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) units in Japan have recently been running at higher rates as gasoline demand in the country has improved, market sources said.

In South Korea, there were no firm talks in the import market for fixed-price lots.

A major PP producer was in the market for propylene, since its cracker was down since early March back in early March. It floated a buy tender in the week.

There were limited talks for exports in the week, with producers polled saying spot supply was tight.

In Taiwan, a cracker outage in the previous week created some demand, but with most buyers already adjusting their downstream run rates to account for the propylene supply loss, they were no longer in a rush to buy cargoes.

In southeast Asia, a sales tender for an end-July loading cargo was floated late on 7 July and will conclude on 9 July.

Demand is present in the region with spot discussions for some intra-regional cargoes, as well as for a deep-sea lot from the Middle East.

Supply from Thailand was available but is expected to stay in the region.

Focus article by Joson Ng

Photo: A container ship is docked at a port during a sunset in Osaka, western Japan. 18 Aug 2019 (By Andy Wong/AP/Shutterstock)

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