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Asian ethylene market shows signs of rebound on SEA demand

News Source:http://www.jinchemical.com/ ; SendDate:2011-6-23 17:11:48 
Asian ethylene started to show signs of rebounding Wednesday as end-users in Southeast Asia returned slowly to the market, sources said.

Last week, the CFR Northeast Asia price benchmark fell $44/mt from Monday to be assessed at $1,096/mt Friday, while the CFR Southeast Asia price fell $60/mt over the same period to $1,081/mt.

Both remained unchanged at this price over Monday and Tuesday this week. But Wednesday, the CFR SEA price rose $18/mt day on day to be assessed at $1,099/mt, while the CFR NEA price again remained flat at $1,096/mt.

Some market sources said end-users in SEA were slowly returning to the market, with some seeking spot cargoes for late July arrival to cover the production shortfall of Shell Chemicals' steam cracker shutdown in August.

Sources said Shell Chemicals plans to shut its 800,000 mt/year naphtha-fed steam cracker at Pulau Bukom, Singapore, in August in order to conduct repair work. It is expected to be shut for around one month.

A market source estimated that the shutdown would prompt 40,000-50,000 mt of spot ethylene demand in SEA.

"It seems some end-users started coming back to the market as Shell's steam cracker shutdown is nearing," the source said. Some end-users in SEA said they would considering buying spot cargoes at around $1,100/mt CFR SEA.

While the CFR NEA price remained flat from Tuesday, market sources said a price rebound was likely soon as China is approaching steam cracker turnaround season that kicks off in August.

China's Shanghai Secco Petrochemical plans to shut its 1.1 million mt/year naphtha-fed steam cracker in Shanghai from early August for one month of annual maintenance, according to sources close to the company. "I think end-users in China will also return to the market soon," a market source said.

But the rebound in the Asian ethylene market was seen to be limited due to weak ethylene derivatives prices as well as persisting supply from the Middle East, notably from Iran. "So many Iranian cargoes are available in the market," a trader said.

Among ethylene derivatives, the Asian PVC market was particularly weak. The CFR China PVC price dropped $53/mt week on week to be assessed at $1,146/mt Wednesday, hit by deep-sea supplies from the US and Europe.

Polyethylene margins have been positive since June 10 but it is not good enough to prompt strong spot buying currently. At current ethylene and PE prices, PE producers can generate profits of $65/mt.

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