The Urethane Blog

New Update from The Gulf

US polymer prices extend post-freeze rises

Houston — US export polymer prices extended sharp upticks March 3 as hopes of a fairly quick return to normal output faded further in the aftermath of the deep freeze that enveloped the US Gulf Coast for days in mid-February, knocking a huge swath of petrochemical capacity offline.

Prices for multiple grades of US polyethylene reached multi-year highs week on week March 3 amid an acute lack of volume availability, strong demand and limited stocks, market sources said.

Spot export low density PE prices surged $210/mt on the week to $1,830-$1,852/mt FAS Houston, the highest level in more than 12.5 years, S&P Global Platts data showed.

High density blowmolding PE prices climbed $165/mt week on week to $1,642-$1,664/mt FAS, a near 6.5-year high. And linear low density PE prices also hit a 6.5-year high on the week, up $276/mt on the week at $1,654-$1,676/mt, Platts data showed.

US export polyvinyl chloride prices also were assessed March 3 at a fresh all-time high of $1,595-$1,605/mt FAS, on a deal done at $1,600/mt, with about 57% of US PVC capacity offline.

Latin American markets also felt the squeeze for products that regularly flow from the US.

The storm’s effects were much more widespread than hurricanes that routinely assault the US Gulf Coast each year, as 40 MW of Texas power generation was offline at the height of the freeze, leaving millions of structures from homes to industrial plants without heat or running water.

Petrochemical restart efforts have been slow, with many ups and downs, as downstream derivative units await reliable olefin feedstocks. Sources said those production chains need to restart sequentially.

Many sources don’t expect normalcy until deep into the second quarter.

“It’s going to be slow,” a source said. “Before everything is recovered, it’s going to be June.”

Here is a rundown of the fallout from the freeze:


**Dow Chemical: Declared Feb. 19, on 2-ethylhexanol and butanol products from its Texas City, Texas complex

**Formosa Plastics USA: Declared Feb. 19 on US polyethylene

**BASF: Declared Feb. 19 on dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP), a plasticizer, at its Pasadena, Texas, site

**Westlake Chemical: Declared Feb. 19 on US caustic soda, chlorine, PVC and VCM; company has 2.9 million mt/year of US caustic soda capacity, more than 2 million mt/year of PVC capacity, 2.6 million mt/year of VCM; more than 2.26 million mt/year of chlorine capacity at five affected sites

**Formosa Plastics USA: Declared Feb. 18 on US PVC, 1.3 million mt/year of capacity at Point Comfort, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, complexes.

**Dow Chemical: Declared Feb. 18 on multiple intermediate chemicals produced at plants in Deer Park, Freeport, Texas City and Bayport Texas, Hahnville, Louisiana, and Louisville, Kentucky; declaration includes vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), methyl methacrylate (MMA), glacial methacrylic acid (GMAA), butyl methacrylate (BMA), glycidyl methacrylate (GMA), 2-ethylhexyl Acrylate (2EHA), butyl acrylate (BA), and others; Dow informed South American customers

**Celanese: Declared force majeure Feb. 18 on multiple intermediate chemicals normally sold to customers in the US, Europe and the Middle East, including acetic acid, VAM, ethyl acetate and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA)

**Total: Declared Feb. 17 on polypropylene produced at its 1.15 million mt/year La Porte, Texas, facility

**Formosa Plastics USA: Declared Feb. 17 on all chlor-alkali products

**LyondellBasell: Declared Feb. 16 on styrene monomer

**Vestolit: Declared Feb. 16 on PVC produced at its Colombia and Mexico plants on lack of upstream vinyl chloride monomer feedstock from US suppliers; plants have a combined 1.8 million mt/year of capacity

**Olin: Declared Feb. 16 on US chlorine, caustic soda, ethylene dichloride, epoxy, hydrochloric acid and other products produced at its Freeport, Texas, complex; ; on Feb. 18 Olin expanded the declaration in a separate letter to customers to include products made system-wide

**MEGlobal: Declared Feb. 15 on MEG produced at its Freeport, Texas, site

**LyondellBasell: Declared Feb. 15 on US polyethylene

**Flint Hills Resources: Declared Feb. 15 on polypropylene produced at Longview, Texas

**OxyChem: Declared Feb. 15 on US chlorine, caustic soda, EDC, vinyl chloride monomer and polyvinyl chloride.

**LyondellBasell: Declared Feb. 15 on US polypropylene

**INEOS Olefins and Polymers USA: Declared Feb. 15 on polypropylene

**OQ Chemicals: Declared Feb. 15 on US oxo-alcohols, aldehydes, acids and esters produced at its Bat City, Texas, operations


**Chevron Phillips Chemical, three crackers with a combined capacity of 1.36 million mt/year of capacity, Sweeny, Texas

**Westlake Chemical: 331,763 mt/year cracker, 249,475 mt/year chlorine, 274,423 mt/year caustic soda, 680,388 mt/year vinyl chloride monomer, 680,388 mt/year polyvinyl chloride, Calvert City, Kentucky

**Eastman Chemical: 730,000 mt/year ethylene capacity, Longview, Texas

**INEOS: 1.89 million mt/year of ethylene capacity, Chocolate Bayou, Texas

**LyondellBasell: 2.29 million mt/year of ethylene capacity in La Porte and Corpus Christi, Texas

**MEGlobal: 750,000 mt/year monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant, Freeport, Texas

**Total: 1.15 million mt/year PP, La Porte, Texas

**Lotte Chemical: 700,000 mt/year MEG, 1 million mt/year joint-venture cracker, Lake Charles, Louisiana

**Braskem: 225,000 mt/year PP, Seadrift, Texas

**ExxonMobil: Cumulative 1.53 million mt/year from three units, HDPE and LLDPE capacity, Mont Belvieu, Texas

**Indorama Ventures: 1 million mt/year ethylene oxide/MEG unit, 238,135 mt/year propylene oxide unit, and 988,000 mt/year of MTBE capacity; Clear Lake, Texas, 435,000 mt/year EO, 358,000 mt/year MEG; Port Neches, Texas

**Olin: Freeport, Texas complex, with 3 million mt/year of caustic soda and 2.73 million mt/year of chlorine capacity; 748,000 mt/year of EDC

**OxyChem: Ingleside, Texas, 544,000 mt/year cracker; 248,000 mt/year chlor-alkali; 680,000 mt/year EDC; Deer Park and Pasadena, Texas, 1.27 million mt in PVC capacity; 1.79 million mt/year of VCM capacity; 580,000 mt/year chlor-alkali

**Shintech: Freeport, Texas: 1.45 million mt/year PVC

**Formosa Plastics USA: Point Comfort, Texas, including three crackers with a cumulative capacity of 2.76 million mt/year; 875,000 mt/year of high density polyethylene; 400,000 mt/year of low density PE; 465,000 mt/year of linear low density PE; 798,000 mt/year of PVC; 1 million mt/year of caustic soda and 910,000 mt/year of chlorine; 753,000 mt/year of VCM; 1.478 million mt/year of EDC; and a cumulative 1.17 million mt/year of monoethylene glycol operated by sister company Nan Ya Plastics.

**Dow Chemical: Certain units offline within Dow sites along the US Gulf Coast, but the company did not specify. Dow’s Gulf Coast operations two LDPE units with 552,000 mt/year and 186,000 mt/year HDPE; Dow’s Seadrift, Texas, complex includes 490,000 mt/year LLDPE and 390,000 mt/year HDPE; Dow told South American customers in a letter dated Feb. 16 that the company was assessing impact on PE production capacity “and we know that our ability to supply various products could be affected.”

**Dow Chemical, 998,000 mt/year cracker, Freeport, Texas

**TPC Group: Houston site, including 544,310 mt/year butadiene unit, when boilers lost steam

**CP Chem: Pasadena, Texas, 998,000 mt/year HDPE

**CP Chem: 853,000 mt/year cracker, Port Arthur, Texas

**Westlake Chemical, 632,000 mt/year cracker, Lake Charles, Louisiana


**Formosa Plastics USA, restarting PP production at Point Comfort, Texas, complex; has two PP units with combined capacity of 1.7 million mt/year

**Shell: restarting two crackers with a combined 961,000 mt/year of capacity, Deer Park, Texas

**OxyChem/Orbia, restarting 550,000 mt/year cracker, Ingleside, Texas

**LyondellBasell, restarting two crackers with a combined 1.93 million mt/year of capacity, Channelview, Texas

**CP Chem, restarting two crackers with a combined 1.9 million mt/year of capacity, Cedar Bayou, Texas

**CP Chem, restarting 853,000 mt/year cracker, Port Arthur, Texas

**Indorama Ventures, restarting 235,867 mt/year cracker, Port Neches, Texas

**Dow Chemical, restarting 680,000 mt/year cracker, Freeport, Texas

**Braskem: 360,000 mt/year PP Freeport, Texas; 400,000 mt/year PP, La Porte, Texas

**Motiva Chemicals: restarted 635,000 mt/year mixed-feed cracker, Port Arthur, Texas

**Shell: Norco, Louisiana, restarted two crackers with a combined 1.4 million mt/year of capacity

**Baystar Polymers: Restarting 408,000 mt/year HDPE unit at Bayport, Texas

**Flint Hills Resources: Restarting 658,000 mt/year PDH unit, Houston

**Dow Chemical: Restarting 750,000 PDH, Freeport, Texas

**Braskem: Restarting 450,000 mt/year PP, La Porte, Texas

**Dow Chemical: restarted 680,000 mt/year cracker in Orange, Texas

**ExxonMobil: Beaumont, Texas, restart activity begun; 826,000 mt/year cracker operational; 225,000 mt/year HDPE; 240,000 mt/year LDPE; 1.19 million mt/year LLDPE with some HDPE capacity

**ExxonMobil: Baytown, Texas, restart activity begun; three crackers with a combined capacity of 3.8 million mt/year; 800,000 mt/year PP

**Sasol: restarted 380,000 mt/year EO/MEG, Lake Charles, Louisiana

**Formosa Plastics USA: restarted 513,000 mt/year PVC, 653,000 mt/year VCM, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

**LyondellBasell: Lake Charles, Louisiana, joint-venture 470,000 mt/year LLDPE; 420,000 mt/year LDPE


**Spot export HDPE blowmolding, LLDPE butene and LDPE prices all reached multi-year highs March 3 of $1,642-$1,664/mt, $1,654-$1,676/mt and $1,830-$1,852/mt, respectively, all FAS Houston.

**US export polyvinyl chloride prices reached a fresh all-time high March 3 on a deal done at $1,600/mt FAS Houston, up $200/mt on the week.

**West Coast South America PVC prices rose $140/mt week on week March 3 to a fresh all-time high of $1,695-$1,705/mt CFR WCSA on the lack of US volume availability

**The CFR Brazil PVC marker gained $100/mt week on week to $1,795-$1,805/mt, the highest in the world and a new all-time high since Platts began assessing the market in 2011.

**Brazilian import PP prices rose $110-$110/mt week to $2,000/mt for homopolymer and $2,050/mt for copolymer, fresh all-time highs since Platts began assessing the markets in 2011.

**March spot propylene prices plunged 17.75 cents/lb FD USG on the day March 3, while April propylene prices fell 16.75 cents/lb on the day to 59.50 cents/lb as restart efforts continued at two of three US propane dehydrogenation (PDH) units post-freeze.