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FACTBOX: Petrochemical markets see some support as shutdowns ease

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FACTBOX: Petrochemical markets see some support as shutdowns ease

Highlights

Dow Chemical will restart three idled polyethylene plants in Texas and Argentina and two elastomers plants in Louisiana as demand begins to rebound and the company expects economic recovery to take hold in the second half of 2020 as gradual emergence from coronavirus pandemic-related shutdowns continues, Fitterling said this week at a conference.

Braskem disclosed that the company has reduced its Brazilian ethylene output to 65% of capacity and US polypropylene output to 85% of capacity in response to lower demand and inventory effects in the petrochemical and plastics production chain.

PTTCG America said this week it could not confirm PTT Global Chemical CEO Kongkrapan Intarajang's statement to Nation Thailand last week that its final investment decision on a petrochemical complex in southeast Ohio had been pushed back to 2021, but said that decision remains on hold amid fallout from the pandemic.

Connecticut was the first US state to restart plastic container deposit programs this week after suspending operations in mid-March because of the pandemic.

Enterprise Products Partners' new ethylene export terminal in Texas has signed contracts for 95% of its eventual 1 million mt/year capacity, executives from Navigator Gas, the company's 50% partner in the venture, said Friday.

Houston — Petrochemical markets in the Americas are showing signs of rebounding as states and countries increasingly emerge from stay-at-home orders and shutdowns, though much of South America remains locked down.

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Still, companies are noting gradual signs of demand rising. Dow Chemical CEO Jim Fitterling said this week that with economies beginning to reopen, with automotive and construction industries resuming activity, "that will gradually start increasing demand for some of those essential products. We see signs of strength every week," though they were "gradual."

However, the number of Americans who have sought unemployment benefits has surpassed 40 million, so market sources say there is caution about spending on big-ticket items like homes and vehicles.

Below are the latest updates from petrochemical markets:

INFRASTRUCTURE

PRICES

Olefins

  • Non-LST ethane fell 1.75 cents/gal on the week to finish Friday at 23 cents/gal, but rose 87.50 points, or 4%, on the day.
  • May spot ethylene prices rose 0.250 cent on the week to 12.125 cents/lb FD Mont Belvieu, while the May FD Choctaw price rose 0.75 cent/lb on the week to 12 cents/lb.
  • Non-LST propane rose 3 cents/gal on the week to 45.25 cents/gal, also up 1.7% on the day.
  • Spot polymer-grade propylene fell 1 cent on the week to 22 cents/lb FD USG, while May refinery grade propylene was flat on the week at 10.75 cents.
  • US export MEG prices were flat at 13.5-14.5 cents/lb FOB USG.
  • May US propylene contract prices settled at a rollover from April with polymer-grade prices at 26 cents/lb and chemical grade at 24.5 cents/lb.
  • Fitterling said at the conference he believes monoethylene glycol prices have bottomed out in the pandemic cycle and the company is starting to see demand for downstream polyester and polyethylene terephthalate production rebound.
  • US export butadiene prices were flat on the week at 9 cents/lb CIF USG.
  • The May US butadiene contract also was flat week on week at 20 cents/lb, while the June contract was assessed at 19.5 cents/lb, down 0.5 cent on the week.

Polymers

  • Export US low density PE prices were flat this week at $849-$871/mt (38.5-39.5 cents/lb) FAS Houston
  • Export US linear low density PE butene prices rose $11/mt week on week to $607-$629/mt (27.5-28.5 cents/lb) FAS Houston.
  • Export US high density PE blowmolding prices increased $11/mt this week to $629-$651/mt (28.5-29.5 cents/lb) FAS Houston.
  • Export US homopolymer PP prices rose $44/mt week on week to $827-$849/mt (37.5-38.5 cents/lb) FAS Houston.
  • Export US ethylene dichloride prices were flat this week at $70-$80/mt FOB USG.
  • Export US PVC prices rose $50/mt this week to $620-$630/mt FAS Houston.
  • US import virgin PET prices rose $37/mt to $893-$915/mt DDP West Coast.
  • US spot recycled PET post-consumer bottle bale prices for premium-grade in Los Angeles finished Friday at 14.5 cents/lb, down 2.5 cents on the week, while curbside material was flat week on week at 8 cents/lb.
  • US spot recycled FOB Chicago PET post-consumer bales finished 1 cent/lb higher week on week at 9 cents/lb.
  • Spot export general purpose polystyrene prices were flat at $870-$892/mt FAS Houston.
  • Latin American homopolymer PP prices were up $30/mt this week at $875-$885/mt CFR WCSA and up $50/mt on the week at $910-$930/mt CFR Brazil.
  • Latin American HDPE film prices rose $20/mt on the week to $745-$755/mt CFR WCSA and were flat at $730-$750/mt CFR Brazil.
  • Latin American LDPE prices were flat on the week at $945-$955/mt CFR WCSA and $950-$970/mt CFR Brazil.
  • Latin American LLDPE prices were up $10/mt on the week at $715-$725/mt CFR WCSA and $700-$720/mt CFR Brazil.
  • Latin American PVC prices rose $30/mt on the week to $665-$675/mt CFR WCSA while the CFR Brazil marker was stable at $695-$705/mt.
  • Three of the four US PVC producers this week announced 3 cents/lb price increases for domestic material effective July 1, in addition to a 3 cents/lb price increase for June announced the prior week.

Aromatics

  • US MTBE prices finished Friday at 97.26 cents/gal, down 2.49 cents on the week, but up 2.74 cents/gal on the day.
  • US methanol FOB USG prices rose 6 cents on the week at 60 cents/gal, and unchanged on the day Friday.
  • June benzene was assessed at 95 cents/gal DDP USG Friday.
  • US styrene monomer for June closed the week at $480/mt.
  • The US June benzene contract price settled 4 cents/gal higher than May at 99 cents/gal this week, the first increase in the widely-used weighted average since February.
  • May FOB USG nitration-grade toluene prices rose 1 cent on the week to finish Friday at 122 cents/gal.
  • Toluene's US blend values moved just over 55 cents to about 144 cents/gal in the first half of May on the back of stronger regrade values, S&P Global Platts data showed.
  • May FOB USG mixed xylenes prices were flat Friday at 129 cents/gal.
  • FOB USG paraxylene prices were flat on the week at $420/mt.
  • FOB USG orthoxylene fell 0.25 cent on the week to 24.50 cents/lb on Friday.
  • LSR naphtha prices rose13.25 cents/gal on the week to finish Friday at 74.75 cents/gal.
  • June NYMEX RBOB settled 2.74 cents higher at $1.0259/gal on Friday.
  • US export 2-ethylhexanol prices rose $25/mt to $575/mt FOB USG.
  • US export n-butanol prices were stable at $530/mt FOB USG.
  • US export acrylonitrile prices rose $15/mt on the week to $825/mt FOB USG.
  • US export caustic soda prices rose $35/mt this week to $390-$400/mt FOB USG.