Tight supplies propel propylene in Asia to 17-month highs (29-12-2016)
FOB Korea propylene benchmark jumped US$19/mt from last Friday to US$870/mt Tuesday, the highest level since July 8, 2015, when the price was assessed at US$880/mt, S&P Global Platts data showed. CFR China propylene price rose US$10/mt to US$920/mt over the same period, the highest level since July 8, 2015, when the price was assessed at US$925/mt, as per Platts. The Asian propylene market has been on an uptrend since the middle of December, due to tight spot availabilities. Some spot buying has also been triggered ahead of a few steam cracker turnarounds, which are due to begin in February.
Taiwan’s CPC plans to shut its No. 6 naphtha-fed steam cracker at Linyuan over February-April for planned maintenance, Platts previously reported. The maintenance program is expected to start on February 13 and end on April 10, lasting about 56 days. The cracker is able to produce 430,000 m tpa of propylene. According to latest data by the Chinese customs department, China’s propylene imports rose 33.3% month on month to 293,410 mt in November.
“I would like to buy a spot propylene cargo but the current price is too high. I am now looking for a cargo on a formula basis,” a Northeast Asia-based propylene buyer said.
The rise in Asian propylene prices has led to a wider spread between propylene and feedstock naphtha.
On Tuesday, the price spread was calculated at $381/mt, up $14.50/mt from last Friday. The spread is at the highest level since October 18, 2016, when it was calculated at $408/mt. Looking ahead, the short-term rise in Asian propylene prices would likely be limited, as domestic China prices have already started to lose some strength this week, market sources said. On Tuesday, the domestic price was reported to be around Yuan 7,850/mt, Yuan 200-300/mt lower week on week.
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