US PVC gets inquiries from Ukraine after two months of silence

Bill Bowen

13-May-2022

HOUSTON (ICIS)–US suppliers of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are getting inquiries from plastics processors in Ukraine, a surprise development  in a war-torn market that has been almost completely silent in recent weeks.

No business has yet been done to the isolated market. With the Black Sea ports under blockade, suppliers are researching alternative routes to send shipments.

“I don’t know if it is possible,” a major US producer said on Friday. “But they are wanting to run their plants and we can’t ignore them.”

The move surprised US suppliers, in which sentiment had become one of a market shut down completely by the war.

But the new inquiries offer evidence to the contrary.

Ukraine is typically a net exporter of PVC, shipping a little over 200,000 tonnes in 2021, according to the ICIS Supply and Demand Database. Plastics processors in the country bought only a little over 50,000 tonnes in imports during the year.

Evidence of current market conditions have been shrouded by the fog of war and the loss of contact through shipping companies and other market participants.

Suppliers are currently exploring shipping costs to other European ports and possibly trucking shipments overland and into Ukraine.

“But it will be expensive,” a supplier said.

PVC prices in Europe have risen sharply in recent weeks as high energy costs and the war’s disruptions interrupting usual business patterns.

The US has been tight during the first quarter with a number of turnarounds limiting supply overall and strong domestic demand crimping export volumes and pushing prices higher.

US and Canada production in April moved within the five-year average, according to data from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and Vault Consulting.

That may help may make US material economically feasible in a market in need of material.

Major US producers of PVC include Shintech, Westlake Chemical, Formosa Plastics and OxyVinyls.

Thumbnail shows pipes made of PVC. Image by imageBROKER/Shutterstock

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