Ethylene prices firmed in Asia last week, according to Polymerupdate, gaining on the back of tight regional availability and defying the decline in global crude values and Asian naphtha. FOB Korea ethylene was assessed at $1125/tonne, while CFR Northeast Asia prices were at $1155/tonne. CFR Southeast Asia ethylene came in at $1220/tonne. An ethylene seller told Polymerupdate that the ethylene availability situation is “very dire” and is “unlikely to improve anytime soon.” The seller noted that unless integrated polyethylene (PE) makers slash output and begin selling ethylene in the spot market or Iran returns with large volumes of prompt availability, Asia’s ethylene markets will continue to remain short of cargo in the near term. In response to the tightness, one Southeast Asian seller started targeting offers at $1300/tonne CFR. In plant news, Shell Chemicals planned steam cracker start up on Singapore’s Bukom island was on schedule. Expected to be online in March 2010, the plant has ethylene capacity of 800,000 tonnes/yr. Most of the output, however, will be for the new 750,000 tonnes/yr monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant Shell started up in November.
Polyethylene (PE) prices tumbled last Wednesday, falling on the back of weak crude and naphtha as well as diminished year-end purchasing inactivity. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) film prices fell more than $30/tonne on the day to $1245/tonne CFR Far East Asia, with low-density polyethylene (LDPE) down more than $40/tonne to $1370/tonne CFR Far East Asia. Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) prices were down $35/tonne on the day to $1300/tonne CFR Far East Asia.
Propylene prices were higher despite falling global energy rates, softer Asian naphtha, and declining downstream polypropylene (PP). FOB Korea prices were assessed at $1095/tonne, while FOB Japan prices registered $1085/tonne, climbing in anticipation of as many as six propylene plants in South Korea and Japan shutting down for maintenance, between the months of February and March. A trader contacted by Polymerudpate felt PP purchases would once again lift in January, with China in particular rushing to purchase ahead of the start of the February lunar holidays.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in Indonesia rose on a December producer’s price increase. The producer lifted rates by $30/tonne from November to an offer price of $930/tonne FD Indonesia. The higher prices are attributed to firmer upstream ethylene dichloride (EDC) and vinyl chlorine monomer (VCM) costs coupled with rising PVC prices across the rest of Asia.
Styrene monomer (SM) prices slipped in Asia on Wednesday, falling on softer upstream benzene and a decline in global energy numbers. FOB Korea SM prices dropped to $1140/tonne, while CFR China prices were assessed at $1160/tonne. After related upstream and downstream products fell further on Thursday, SM continued to drop, with sellers targeting offers at $1150/tonne CFR China. Buyers, meanwhile, bid at $1120 to $1130/tonne CFR.
Polystyrene (PS) prices were up, even though SM feedstock rates were down. General-purpose (GPPS) prices rose to $1250/tonne CFR China and CFR Southeast Asia, with high impact (HIPS) at $1330/tonne CFR Southeast Asia and CFR China. A PS buyer told Polymerupdate that those in urgent need of PS have little choice but to pay the high ruling price. Through the rest of December, however, the buyer felt prices may ease due to softer crude and naphtha rates, weaker SM, and diminished regional buying action. — [email protected]