Polymerupdate resin pricing, Jan. 26-30; Chinese PVC `08 imports off 21%; prices steady through New Year holiday

February 05, 2009

Regional trading of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) slowed at the onset of the Chinese Lunar New Year, according to Polymerupdate, except in the South Asian market where offers were heard above $750/tonne CFR for February. In China, CFR China PVC prices were assessed at $660/tonne, while CFR Southeast Asia prices were assessed at $650/tonne. For the year, data from the Chinese custom agency showed that total imports of PVC into China in 2008 fell 21% from 2007, with 797,536 tonnes shipped into the country in 2007, compared to 1.014 million tonnes in 2008.

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) prices were also flat in most parts of Asia last week on account of the holiday in China. A producer contacted by Polymerupdate said his company is anxious for Chinese activity to restart following the New Year, but there is broader concern about the pending start up of Arya Sasol’s 300,000 tonnes/yr LDPE plat in Assaluyeh, Iran and how the extra supplies will affect spot prices. Polymerupdate reports that China’s total imports of LDPE in December climbed sharply from November levels. China imported a total of 71,500 tonnes of LDPE in December, up 81% from November’s total of 39,560 tonnes.

South Asia trading of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) was robust in spite of the New Year celebration, with CFR South Asia prices for HDPE film rising to $950/tonne and offers heard above $1000/tonne. By comparison, in China, HDPE injection and film prices on a CFR Far East Asia basis were flat last week at $920/tonne.

A similar pattern in linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), where LLDPE rates were flat at $930/tonne CFR in the Far East Asian region, but prices in South Asia inched upwards by $30/tonne, as offers crossed $1000/tonne. In plant news, Borouge has shutdown its 600,000 tonnes/yr steam cracker for maintenance, with the HDPE/LLDPE swing plant expected to remain inoperative for four weeks.

Propylene and polypropylene (PP) were stable with the monomer at $585 to $590/tonne FOB Korea, while CFR China propylene prices were at $630/tonne. Imports set to arrive through February and March from the U.S., Europe, and Libya are forecast to offset reduced runs at regional crackers. Pending renewed Chinese buying, traders contacted by Polymerupdate believe that PP prices could be on the rise in the near future.

Plant shutdowns at two polystyrene (PS) units in Southeast Asia, along with a spike in styrene monomer (SM) feedstock were responsible for a rise in PS prices in Asia last week, where general-purpose (GP) PS prices in Southeast Asia climbed above $800/tonne CFR, while HIPS prices firmed to above $900/tonne CFR. In Thailand, IRPC planned to shutdown its PS units in Rayong later this month, including its 30,000 tonnes/yr EPS unit, 50,000 tonnes/yr GPPS unit, and 55,000 tonnes/yr HIPS unit for two months. IRPC also plans a shutdown of its 200,000 tonnes/yr SM feedstock unit for the same time. A 130,000 tonnes/yr PS unit along with a 300,000 tonnes/yr SM unit belonging to Dow-Siam Cement in Map Ta Phut, Thailand will also be shutdown next month for a turnaround.—[email protected]

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