Price and market trends: Lucite force majeure adds to acetone woes

03 January 2014 09:35 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

A force majure disrupts business at a UK receiving terminal

Major methyl methacrylate (MMA) producer Lucite International has been hit by a force majeure at one of its acetone receiving terminals in Billingham, Teesside, in the UK, a company source said on 12 December. The terminal is owned and operated by Simon Storage. The move was due to heavy flooding caused by a tidal surge in the North Sea.

A Lucite company representative said: “As an Asian company we have a March year-end and so can normally help the industry by taking product at this time of year. Given the force majeure we cannot do that now”. The closed terminal represents two-thirds of Lucite’s normal acetone intake and as a result it has stopped production of key MMA intermediate acetone cyanohydrin (ACH). The company has not shut-down production of MMA, but is using existing stocks of ACH.

The move came at a poor time for the acetone market with pricing weak due to poor demand and seasonal destocking.

The Europe December contract settled at €911/tonne ($1,248/tonne) FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe), up €16/tonne but failing to pass through the full increase in key feedstock propylene.

Despite an increase in the December contract price, spot acetone numbers continue to move independently and have been declining since October. However a trader said “The Lucite shutdown will not kill the market, as December production is usually limited and supply remains relatively tight”.

By Rhian O'Connor