The Urethane Blog

European Propylene Update

MOST READ – Europe ethylene, propylene: latest market developments

Author: ICIS Editorial


The story below was our most read article in the last 12 hours.

By Nel Weddle

11-May-21 18:37

LONDON (ICIS)–European ethylene and propylene markets remain extraordinarily firm with production at a low point due to planned turnarounds and healthy demand which is showing no signs of letting up in the near to medium term.

Spring turnarounds reach their peak in May:

Refinery maintenance is also under way, further restricting propylene supplies.

Given the backdrop of planned outages, unscheduled events like the ongoing Tarragona, Spain, propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit outage and most recently, the issues at one of the crackers at Gelsenkirchen in Germany are more difficult to manage.

Inventories having been built up with the turnaround season in mind, might offer some initial breathing space for those suddenly caught short, but otherwise the options are limited; many are reluctant in the midst of turnaround season to release tonnes.

Imports are not usually the first option due to lead times – prompt issues require prompt tonnes.

Those with volumes not surprisingly, target higher spot prices.

Ethylene spot pipeline prices flip-flopped through April from premiums to discounts and back to premiums, reflecting the impacts of cracker or derivative problems on a finely balanced market and were back in double-digit premium territory last week for the first time since January.

Propylene spot price premiums have persisted all year but are wide-ranging depending on grade, location, timing and affordability.

Demand across all derivatives is healthy but there are clear differences when it comes to affordability and some buyers are ready to accept whatever it takes to ensure further disruption to downstream production is limited.

Few players expect a slow-down in the summer months largely because of the catching up needing to be done following the disruptions seen so far to production and supply chains, but the first wave of turnarounds will be over, refinery output should be improved as COVID-19 lockdowns are lifted.