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FACTBOX: US export polymer prices showing spikes post-freeze

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FACTBOX: US export polymer prices showing spikes post-freeze

  • Author
  • Kristen Hays    Jacquelyn Melinek    Emmanuel Gallegos
  • Editor
  • Richard Rubin
  • Commodity
  • Petrochemicals
Houston —

US polymer prices showed significant jumps March 2 as market activity inched back up in the aftermath of sustained sub-freezing temperatures along the US Gulf Coast in mid-February that forced widespread production shutdowns.

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Prices were spiking for what little volumes could be made available as producers continued working to restart, or wait for suppliers to restart, upstream olefins to facilitate downstream restarts as well. Polyethylene, polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride supply already had been tight before the freeze, and became much tighter, prompting higher global prices amid uncertainty of how long production capacity would be offline.

A deal was confirmed done March 2 for export polyvinyl chloride at $1,600/mt FAS Houston, an all-time high since S&P Global Platts began assessing the market in 1983 and up $200/mt from the last assessed price of $1,400/mt FAS. Supply for the construction staple used to make pipes, window frames, vinyl siding and other products had been tight for months amid reduced upstream chlor-alkali rates and impact from hurricanes and operational issues in 2020, but the freeze prompted shutdowns of about 57% of US PVC capacity.

A market source had said some previous indications of export PVC pricing, amid such low availability, reached $1,500-$1,550/mt FAS.

US PE capacity saw similarly widespread shutdowns, and export prices are rising as a result. US export low density PE prices climbed $100/mt day on day March 1 to $1,720-$1,742/mt FAS, and linear low density butene PE rose $99/mt on the day to $1,477-$1,499/mt, S&P Global Platts data showed.

A market source said some producers had asked customers who bought volumes to be produced and shipped in February to cancel those orders, and re-bid at a level that was 7 cents/lb ($154/mt) higher. That request didn't come from all affected by the freeze, but given the slew of force majeures declared for polymers, different strategies of how to handle sharply reduced volume availability were emerging, the source said.

Here is a rundown of the fallout from the freeze:


**Dow Chemical: Declared Feb. 19, on 2-ethylhexanol and butanol products from its Texas City, Texas complex

**Formosa Plastics USA: Declared Feb. 19 on US polyethylene

**BASF: Declared Feb. 19 on dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP), a plasticizer, at its Pasadena, Texas, site

**Westlake Chemical: Declared Feb. 19 on US caustic soda, chlorine, PVC and VCM; company has 2.9 million mt/year of US caustic soda capacity, more than 2 million mt/year of PVC capacity, 2.6 million mt/year of VCM; more than 2.26 million mt/year of chlorine capacity at five affected sites

**Formosa Plastics USA: Declared Feb. 18 on US PVC, 1.3 million mt/year of capacity at Point Comfort, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, complexes.

**Dow Chemical: Declared Feb. 18 on multiple intermediate chemicals produced at plants in Deer Park, Freeport, Texas City and Bayport Texas, Hahnville, Louisiana, and Louisville, Kentucky; declaration includes vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), methyl methacrylate (MMA), glacial methacrylic acid (GMAA), butyl methacrylate (BMA), glycidyl methacrylate (GMA), 2-ethylhexyl Acrylate (2EHA), butyl acrylate (BA), and others; Dow informed South American customers

**Celanese: Declared force majeure Feb. 18 on multiple intermediate chemicals normally sold to customers in the US, Europe and the Middle East, including acetic acid, VAM, ethyl acetate and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA)

**Total: Declared Feb. 17 on polypropylene produced at its 1.15 million mt/year La Porte, Texas, facility

**Formosa Plastics USA: Declared Feb. 17 on all chlor-alkali products

**LyondellBasell: Declared Feb. 16 on styrene monomer

**Vestolit: Declared Feb. 16 on PVC produced at its Colombia and Mexico plants on lack of upstream vinyl chloride monomer feedstock from US suppliers; plants have a combined 1.8 million mt/year of capacity

**Olin: Declared Feb. 16 on US chlorine, caustic soda, ethylene dichloride, epoxy, hydrochloric acid and other products produced at its Freeport, Texas, complex; ; on Feb. 18 Olin expanded the declaration in a separate letter to customers to include products made system-wide

**MEGlobal: Declared Feb. 15 on MEG produced at its Freeport, Texas, site

**LyondellBasell: Declared Feb. 15 on US polyethylene

**Flint Hills Resources: Declared Feb. 15 on polypropylene produced at Longview, Texas

**OxyChem: Declared Feb. 15 on US chlorine, caustic soda, EDC, vinyl chloride monomer and polyvinyl chloride.

**LyondellBasell: Declared Feb. 15 on US polypropylene

**INEOS Olefins and Polymers USA: Declared Feb. 15 on polypropylene

**OQ Chemicals: Declared Feb. 15 on US oxo-alcohols, aldehydes, acids and esters produced at its Bat City, Texas, operations


**Westlake Chemical: 331,763 mt/year cracker, 249,475 mt/year chlorine, 274,423 mt/year caustic soda, 680,388 mt/year vinyl chloride monomer, 680,388 mt/year polyvinyl chloride, Calvert City, Kentucky

**Eastman Chemical: 730,000 mt/year ethylene capacity, Longview, Texas

**INEOS: 1.89 million mt/year of ethylene capacity, Chocolate Bayou, Texas

**LyondellBasell: 3.26 million mt/year of ethylene capacity in Channelview, La Porte and Corpus Christi, Texas

**MEGlobal: 750,000 mt/year monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant, Freeport, Texas

**Total: 1.15 million mt/year PP, La Porte, Texas

**Lotte Chemical: 700,000 mt/year MEG, Lake Charles, Louisiana; 1 million mt/year joint-venture cracker

**Braskem: 450,000 mt/year PP La Porte, Texas; 225,000 mt/year PP Seadrift, Texas

**ExxonMobil: Cumulative 1.53 million mt/year from three units, HDPE and LLDPE capacity, Mont Belvieu, Texas

**Indorama Ventures: Port Neches, Texas, 235,867 mt/year cracker, 1 million mt/year ethylene oxide/MEG unit, 238,135 mt/year propylene oxide unit, and 988,000 mt/year of MTBE capacity; Clear Lake, Texas, 435,000 mt/year EO, 358,000 mt/year MEG.

**Olin: Freeport, Texas complex, with 3 million mt/year of caustic soda and 2.73 million mt/year of chlorine capacity; 748,000 mt/year of EDC

**OxyChem: Ingleside, Texas, 544,000 mt/year cracker; 248,000 mt/year chlor-alkali; 680,000 mt/year EDC; Deer Park and Pasadena, Texas, 1.27 million mt in PVC capacity; 1.79 million mt/year of VCM capacity; 580,000 mt/year chlor-alkali

**Shintech: Freeport, Texas: 1.45 million mt/year PVC

**Formosa Plastics USA: Entire Point Comfort, Texas, complex, including three crackers with a cumulative capacity of 2.76 million mt/year; 875,000 mt/year of high density polyethylene; 400,000 mt/year of low density PE; 465,000 mt/year of linear low density PE; two PP units with combined capacity of 1.7 million mt/year; 798,000 mt/year of PVC; 1 million mt/year of caustic soda and 910,000 mt/year of chlorine; 753,000 mt/year of VCM; 1.478 million mt/year of EDC; and a cumulative 1.17 million mt/year of monoethylene glycol operated by sister company Nan Ya Plastics.

**Dow Chemical: Certain units offline within Dow sites along the US Gulf Coast, but the company did not specify. Dow's Gulf Coast operations two LDPE units with 552,000 mt/year and 186,000 mt/year HDPE; Dow's Seadrift, Texas, complex includes 490,000 mt/year LLDPE and 390,000 mt/year HDPE; Dow told South American customers in a letter dated Feb. 16 that the company was assessing impact on PE production capacity "and we know that our ability to supply various products could be affected."

**TPC Group: Houston site, including 544,310 mt/year butadiene unit, when boilers lost steam

**Shell: Deer Park, Texas, refining and chemical complex, including two crackers with a combined 961,000 mt/year of capacity

**Chevron Phillips Chemical: Pasadena, Texas, 998,000 mt/year HDPE; also has cumulative 5.35 million mt/year in capacity of six crackers in Port Arthur, Baytown and Sweeny, Texas


**Braskem: 360,000 mt/year PP Freeport, Texas; 400,000 mt/year PP La Porte, Texas

**Motiva Chemicals: Port Arthur, 635,000 mt/year mixed-feed cracker

**Shell: Norco, Louisiana, refining and chemical complex, including two crackers with a combined capacity of 1.42 million mt/year

**Baystar Polymers: Restarting 408,000 mt/year HDPE unit at Bayport, Texas

**Dow Chemical: Restarting three crackers at Freeport, Texas, with a combined 3.2 million mt/year of ethylene capacity

**Flint Hills Resources: Restarting 658,000 mt/year PDH unit, Houston

**Dow Chemical: Restarting 750,000 PDH, Freeport, Texas

**Braskem: Restarting 450,000 mt/year PP, La Porte, Texas

**Dow Chemical: restarting 680,000 mt/year cracker in Orange, Texas

**ExxonMobil: Beaumont, Texas, restart activity begun; 826,000 mt/year cracker operational; 225,000 mt/year HDPE; 240,000 mt/year LDPE; 1.19 million mt/year LLDPE with some HDPE capacity

**ExxonMobil: Baytown, Texas, restart activity begun; three crackers with a combined capacity of 3.8 million mt/year; 800,000 mt/year PP

**Sasol: 380,000 mt/year EO/MEG, Lake Charles, Louisiana

**Formosa Plastics USA: 513,000 mt/year PVC, 653,000 mt/year VCM, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

**LyondellBasell: Lake Charles, Louisiana, joint-venture 470,000 mt/year LLDPE; 420,000 mt/year LDPE


**LDPE assessed up $100 on the day March 2 at $1,720-$1,742/mt; LLDPE butene up $99 day on day at $1,477-$1,499/mt; and HDPE blowmolding up $44 on the day at $1,521-$1,543/mtf, all FAS Houston basis

**US spot acrylonitrile was assessed $420 higher week on week March 2 at $2,495-$2,505/mt, a more than 9-yer high, based on talk of higher supplier pricing and stronger global pricing.440 hike in CFR FE Asia.

**US prompt spot ethylene prices for March rose a penny on the day March 2 to 57 cents/lb FD Mont Belvieu, while forward-month April ethylene was assessed at 52.75 cents/lb FD Mont Belvieu, down 3.25 cents on the day. March Choctaw ethylene was assessed at 56.25 cents/lb FD Choctaw, up 1.25 cents on the day March 2, while forward-month April ethylene was assessed at 52.25 cents/lb, down 2 cents day on day.

-- Kristen Hays,; Jacquelyn Melinek,; Emmanuel Gallegos,

-- Edited by Richard Rubin,