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.
A major price hike has hit the North American polypropylene market, sending prices up an average of 15 cents per pound since Jan. 1.
The January move is the eighth double-digit price swing to hit the North American PP market since January 2011. Increased volatility has been a concern of both buyers and producers of the material.
The recent increase again was tied in to a major fluctuation in the price of propylene monomer feedstock. Propylene supplies have grown tight because of a number of planed and unplanned outages in production throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast, including a lengthy shutdown at a plant operated by Petrologistics LLC in the Houston area.
The sudden declaration of force majeure by Shell Chemicals saw November styrene spot prices gain $75/tonne since the beginning of the week. European styrene prices are expected to soar following Shell Chemicals‘ declaration of force majeure on styrene at its Moerdijk site earlier this week, with firm benzene costs also supporting the bullishness, sources said on Wednesday.
Deals for November were done at $1,525/tonne on Monday 5 November, and emerging speculation about technical problems at the Moerdijk site saw styrene prices move up to $1,550/tonne by the end of the day.
US benzene spot prices tumbled swiftly this week after hitting a record $5.35/gal ($1,599.65/mt) DDP US Gulf on Friday, Platts data showed.
On Tuesday, October benzene was assessed at $5.18/gal ($1,548.82/mt) DDP, down 9 cents/gal ($26.91/mt) from Monday, while November benzene was assessed at $4.55/gal ($1,360.45/mt) DDP, down 25 cents/gal ($74.75/mt).
Weakness in the energy complex contributed to the bearish aromatics market.
September spot styrene was offered at $1,700/tonne (€1,343/tonne) FOB (free on board) Rotterdam on Thursday evening. This is the highest price recorded since mid-July 2008, when spot styrene traded at a record high of $1,860/tonne.
Ethane at the Mont Belvieu, Texas trading hub, a traditional pricing benchmark, sold for 28.4 cents per gallon Tuesday, down from a peak average of 89 cents in October, according to Platts research. Propane at Mont Belvieu sold for 79.65 cents per gallon, down from $1.47 a gallon in October.
The weak prices, which may last for several years due to a mismatch between supply and demand according to many market observers, could provide an unexpected hit to earnings and cash flow for many exploration and production companies.
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.
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.