Price and market trends: US hydrochloric acid prices rising on short supply

23 June 2014 00:00 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

US contract and spot prices for hydrochloric acid (HCl) are moving up fast after a long decline as unplanned outages and planned maintenance turnarounds have left the market tight on supply.

Producers and distributors said that a $20/ton contract price increase has taken in the market for June and that it seems likely that a proposed $40/ton increase is likely to take in July.

Several producers have announced two rounds of price increases within a month, with the most recent coming out in mid-May. Several market participants said that the two increases in such quick succession were unprecedented and reflected production outages and rising demand.

HCl spot prices moved up during the week as well. The ICIS-assessed price on an EXW (ex-works) USG (US Gulf) basis moved up an average $10/ton during the week to reflect a narrower range of $130-$140/ton.

US hydrochloric acid

Most US Gulf producers said that they were out of product for June, except for rationed portions to established customers.

A distributor said that it has implemented the $20/ton increase for its customers and has informed them that a $40 increase will be implemented on 1 July.

Outages at more than one maker of isocyanates and other products for which chlorine is a by-product have shortened supply unexpectedly.

Bayer has just completed a planned maintenance turnaround of its 90,000 tonne/year (99,206 ton/year) facility in Baytown, Texas, and BASF plans a month-long maintenance turnaround for the month of July at its 160,000 tonne/year (176,366 ton/year) plant in Geismar, Louisiana.

Chlorine producers, too, are selling into higher-value downstream applications, including for ethylene dichloride (EDC) to make downstream polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other uses, a distributor said.

Producers report strong demand pull from oil and gas extraction companies for steel pickling and from large food processors.

Major US producers of HCl include BASF, Bayer, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Occidental Chemical (OxyChem) and Olin.

By Bill Bowen