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Priced to sell, polyethylene from Iran is making the rounds

Iran sits atop the second-largest oil and gas reserves globally. As in much of the oil-rich Middle East, the government there has decided to use its crude oil strength to help advance its stake in the petrochemical industry. According to plastics pricing service ChemOrbis, one indication of this at present are the numerous and relatively low-cost Iranian PE offers this month in Italy, Turkey, China and Egypt.

PlasticsToday Staff

April 18, 2011

2 Min Read
Priced to sell, polyethylene from Iran is making the rounds

U.S. companies are banned from working with Iranian firms due to the country's nuclear program, and the ban has had some impact on the country's ability to export as some U.S. allies also have toed the line. But Iranian oil company officials say the ban has had little effect on their relations with companies and governments in Europe and Asia. According to an article this week from the Fars News Agency, several European energy companies are keen to invest in the ninth line of Iran's national gas pipeline.

Iranian companies are making their presence felt more in the world's plastics markets, reports ChemOrbis. For instance, in Italy market players reported done deals for Iranian HDPE and LDPE materials last week as Italian buyers attempt to keep their costs down in the face of earlier price hike announcements from European producers. Iranian offers have shown up for the past three weeks at the bottom of the local ranges and have seen interest from buyers. There is up to a €110/ton difference between the high end of the Iranian LDPE price range and the high end of the West European LDPE price range, according to ChemOrbis.

Buyers are particularly wary of spending on LDPE as they feel prices are at too high of a premium over other PE products. Deals for Iranian HDPE are up to €70/ton below the low end of European origins and there is a difference of €160/ton compared to the high end of European prices. European HDPE supply is considered to be on the tight side this month, which has helped raise prices for this product.
In Turkey, an international trader told ChemOrbis earlier this month that "Iranian materials are dominating the PE market." Here again, price is the object, with the offers for Iranian plastics at the bottom of the overall price ranges. Import statistics for Turkey show that Iran in February sold 7707 tons of LDPE in Turkey, almost four times as much as the second-largest importing country, Israel (1862 tons). Iran also took the top LDPE spot in January 2011 at 4769 tons.  Iran was also tops in the HDPE market in February at 12,098 tons, ahead of Saudi Arabia (11,178 tons).
The situation is similar in China where Iran led imports for the first two months of this year. Iranian LDPE imports were registered at 20,896 tons in January 2011 followed by Malaysia at 12,134 tons and South Korea at 12,037 tons. In February Iran accounted for 10,043 tons versus 6,943 tons from Malaysia and 6,149 tons from Japan. In the HDPE market, Iran took top spot in January at 68,511 tons before moving to third place in February with 21,184 tons. Similar to other regions, Iranian LDPE and HDPE prices are at the low end of the overall import price ranges.

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