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US MEG January-April exports drop 21.5% on year: ITC

Highlights

Decline reflects deep-freeze-related shutdowns in February

Pending EU antidumping duties could shift trade flows

US monoethylene glycol exports in the first four months of 2021 were nearly 21.5% lower than the year-ago period, reflecting sharply lower export volume availability in the aftermath of widespread production shutdowns amid a deep freeze that hit the US Gulf Coast in February, according to the latest US International Trade Commission data, released June 9.

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The US shipped out 585,485 mt of MEG in the January-April period of 2021, down from 745,467 mt in the year-ago period.

More than 4 million mt/year of total 4.65 million mt/year of US MEG capacity shut down when sustained subfreezing temperatures hit the US Gulf Coast and much of the US in mid-February.

Shutdowns lasted for weeks as producers awaited upstream ethylene cracker restarts, which were slow because producers had to run material through miles of exposed pipes to find and fix cracks and leaks caused by the extreme cold.

MEG is used to make antifreeze and also is a feedstock for polyethylene terephthalate, which is used to make plastic bottles and polyester fiber.

China, the world's largest MEG consumer for its polyester industry, was the top recipient of US MEG outflows in the January-April period, having received 143,391 mt, or 24.5% of the total.

Mexico was second at 128,028 mt, or 21.8% of the total, followed by Turkey at 107,491 mt, or 18.3% of the total.

Belgium was the fourth-highest recipient at 72,654 mt, or 12% of the total. But European destinations could decline in the coming months as the European Union aims to impose provisional antidumping duties on US- and Saudi Arabia-origin MEG imports in June, market sources said.

In mid-May, the EU published a summary of proposed provisional duties on individual producers.

The US-based producers listed are Lotte Chemical Louisiana, with an 8.5% provisional antidumping duty, and MEGlobal Americas, with a 38.3% provisional antidumping duty, while other companies in the US, listed as cooperating companies with provisional antidumping duties of 13.5%, are Sasol Chemical North America, Equistar Chemicals, and Indorama Ventures Oxides.

All other US companies' provisional antidumping duty is set at 52%, according to the summary. That would include an ExxonMobil/Sabic joint-venture 1.1 million mt/year MEG plant slated to come online in fourth-quarter 2021 with their petrochemical complex under construction in Texas.

Producers in Saudi Arabia listed with provisional antidumping duties of 11.1% are Jubail United Petrochemical Company, Arabian Petrochemical Company, Petrokemya, Saudi Yanbu Petrochemical Company, Yanpet, Eastern Petrochemical Company, Sharq, Yanbu National Petrochemical Company, Yansab, and Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Company, Saudi Kayan.