Ethylene was on the rise in Asia at the start of 2009, according to Polymerupdate, with prices firming due to tight regional availability and good demand from contractual users. Polymerupdate noted that ethylene supplies were tight since many producers were running their naphtha-fed steam crackers at reduced rates. CFR North East Asia prices rose to $585/tonne, while CFR South East Asia prices were reported at $600/tonne. FOB Korea prices rose to $555/tonne.
Understandably, polyethylene (PE) prices in Asia also edged higher. A Hong Kong-based trader told Polymerupdate that many industry participants across Asia had only just returned to work after an extended New Year holiday break. Of that group, many came back with low PE inventory levels and felt the need to replenish their stocks. High-density PE (HDPE) film prices were quoted at $830 to $840/tonne CFR Far East. Low-density PE (LDPE) prices rose to $860 to $870/tonne CFR Far East, while linear low-density PE (LLDPE) prices were seen at $830 to $840/tonne CFR.
Asian propylene prices also rose, finishing last week up by approximately $50/tonne. FOB Korea prices of propylene last Friday were assessed at $510/tonne, while CFR South East Asia prices were assessed at $585/tonne. CFR China prices of propylene rose to $565/tonne. In related plant news, Polymirae is planning to lift polypropylene (PP) production this month from the 35% rates seen in December to about 80%. Hyosung Corp., meanwhile, will complete repairs at its PP plant in Ulsan and hopes to restart a 170,000-tonnes/yr PP line by mid January. An SK Energy PP plant also located at Ulsan, South Korea restarted after a two-month shutdown. The facility has 350,000 tonnes/yr of production capacity and was temporarily closed due to weak demand conditions in the domestic and Asian markets.
A spike in global energy prices coupled with gains in benzene prices in the West prompted a rise in Asian benzene prices. FOB Korea prices of benzene rose to $320/tonne, with bids heard near $310/tonne FOB. Japan’s Nippon Oil reportedly settled its January benzene contract price for Asia at $295/tonne CFR, down $15/tonne from December’s settlement. Poor demand has kept output reduced at several facilities, with Nippon and South Korea’s SK Energy operating between 70%-80% of capacity, although both are planning to increase output by the end of January.—[email protected]