Bids for June material were climbing, seen on the HoustonMercantile Exchange as high as 57 cents/lb Mont Belvieu-Williams basis, up from 53-cent/lb levels earlier in the day. Spot ethylene was last assessed Wednesday at 52.75-53.25 cents/lb FD USG.
U.S. prices for the chemical building block ethylene reached a seven-month low in May, dropping below 50 cents per pound, according to PetroChem Wire, a daily newsletter serving the petrochemical industry.
Reduced ethylene production due to plant maintenance closures supported the ethylene market earlier in the second quarter. Ethylene peaked at just over 75 cents per pound at the beginning of April. On May 31 it traded at 46.5 cents per pound.
Regional polyethylene prices are down an average of 7 cents per pound, while polypropylene prices have tumbled 10 cents and PVC prices have taken a 2-cent dip, according to buyers and market watchers contacted recently by Plastics News.
U.S. prices for ethylene, the building block chemical for products ranging from plastic bags to antifreeze, recently reached levels not seen since the 2005 hurricane season, according to PetroChem Wire, a daily newsletter serving the petrochemical industry.
Ethylene touched 75.125 cents per pound on April 4, the highest level in at least seven years, PetroChem Wire reported. Prices began 2012 at 56.75 cents per pound. Ethylene climbed as unplanned plant outages and scheduled maintenance caused supply to fall short of demand.
A summer heat wave has melted North American prices for polyethylene, polypropylene and PET bottle resin.
Since July 1, average selling prices for high, low and linear low density PE in the region are down 3 cents per pound, according to buyers and market watchers contacted recently by Plastics News.
Average PP prices have fallen 4 cents per pound in that same time frame, while average prices for PET are down 2 cents, sources said. These changes are reflected on this week’s PN resin pricing chart.
US ethylene spot prices rose by 5% in the last three days, market sources said on Friday, citing growing fears that flooding will affect operations at crackers near the Mississippi river.
Ethylene for May traded at 70.50 cents/lb ($1,554/tonne, €1,088/tonne) on Friday, up from deals done at 67 cents/lb early in the week.
Market sources said the surge in spot prices stemmed from concerns that expected flooding next week could disrupt production at a number of crackers near the Mississippi river in Louisiana.
US ethylene spot prices fell sharply during the week ended 15 April, dropping by 10% to 58.50 cents/lb in one day on pressure from lower ethane and crude oil prices early in the week.
US ethylene margins fell by nearly 4% in the second week of April following a drop in ethylene spot prices, the ICIS margin report showed on Monday.
Ethylene spot margins were at 32.54 cents/lb ($717/tonne, €495/tonne) last week, down from 33.81 cents/lb in the previous week, using ethane as a feedstock.
Crude oil prices fell after a large US investment bank warned its clients that prices had climbed far above the values supported by market fundamentals.
The comment spooked investors, causing the front-month West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contract to shed 6% in only two days.
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Spot ethylene prices in USA peaked to a three month highs, with February volumes heard done at the 52- and 53-cent/lb levels, as per Platts. These levels were previously seen on November 10, 2010, while February spot ethylene was last assessed Tuesday at 49.125 cents/lb.
Ethylene has been on a steady climb since February 8, when a major feedstock supplier Enterprise Products Partners declared force majeure out of the facility out of its Mont Belvieu, Texas unit after a massive fire at a key storage facility. Supporting ethylene’s surge were strong ethane values, which reached the 76-cent/gallon level in Tuesday morning trading before scaling back in the afternoon and into Wednesday. A downed olefins unit at LyondellBasell's complex in La Porte, Texas, and ExxonMobil's move to put certain high-density polyethylene products out of its Mont Belvieu, Texas, plant on allocation, were also having an effect on prices.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc declared force majeure on ethylene yesterday after a ruptured steam line caused the shutdown of an ethylene unit at its Norco chemical plant in Louisiana, said Alexandra Smith, a company spokeswoman.
Production was reduced as a result, according to Smith, who is based in Houston. “The duration of the outage is not yet known,” she said in an e-mail today. The steam line ruptured on Nov. 27, according to Smith.
Force majeure exempts parties from fulfilling contractual obligations when events beyond their control occur.
The plant, in St. Charles Parish, is 26 miles (42 kilometers) west of New Orleans.
Global petrochemical prices fell by 11% in May, their biggest month-on-month drop since November 2008, when the worldwide economic crisis became an accepted and painful reality.
Prices in the $3-trillion-plus global petrochemicals market averaged $1279/tonne in May, plummeting by $165/tonne according to the Platts Global Petrochemical Index (PGPI), a benchmark basket of seven widely used petrochemicals.