The Urethane Blog

Spot Propylene Drops 23c/lb Today With Restarts

FACTBOX: US spot propylene prices plunge from freeze-fueled record high

Houston — US spot polymer-grade propylene prices fell sharply from all-time highs Feb. 24 as two of the three propane dehydrogenation plants in the US began restarting after coming offline during the deep freeze that hit the US Gulf Coast the week of Feb. 15.

Spot propylene prices already had reached their highest level in a decade before the freeze on tight supply, which grew tighter when sustained sub-freezing temperatures forced Dow Chemical’s 750,000 mt/year unit in Freeport, Texas, and Flint Hills Resources’ 658,000 mt/year unit in Houston offline. Enterprise Products Partners had already shut its 750,000 mt/year PDH unit pre-freeze on Feb. 1 for maintenance, the company confirmed.

Spot polymer-grade propylene prices plunged 23 cents on Feb. 24 to 102 cents/lb from an all-time high of 125 cents/lb on news that Dow and Flint Hills were restarting their units, market sources said.

However, downstream polymer prices were expected to rise sharply in the coming weeks as volumes are offered after plants restart, sources said.

Those restarts were expected to be gradual, as producers had to ensure downstream units could operate before restarting upstream olefins units, sources noted.

In addition, supply chains had to recover as well. The freeze affected much of the US in addition to the US Gulf Coast, and trucking services and railroads moving domestic volumes inland from the region.

“Domestically, it’s horrendous going north,” a source said. Shipments of volumes already bought could take several weeks to reach their destinations, he added. Market participants also were concerned about whether enough rail cars would return to move out more product once production ramps back up.

Indorama Ventures in March will impose a 4.5 cents/lb surcharge on shipments of all grades of polyethylene terephthalate, the resin used to make plastic bottles, on all supplies in the US, Mexico and Canada, to cover higher feedstock and logistics cost not included in formula-based resin pricing, according to a customer letter dated Feb. 23.

Here is a rundown of confirmed fallout from the freeze:

FORCE MAJEURES

**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

SHUTDOWNS

**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: 7.33 million mt/year ethylene capacity, Longview, Texas

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

**LyondellBasell: 3.26 million mt/year of ethylene capacity in Channelview, 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, Lake Charles, Louisiana; 1 million mt/year joint-venture cracker

**Braskem: 360,000 mt/year PP Freeport, Texas; 400,000 mt/year PP La Porte, Texas; 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: Port Neches, Texas, 235,867 mt/year cracker, 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.

**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: Entire Point Comfort, Texas, complex, 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; two PP units with combined capacity of 1.7 million mt/year; 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 include a complex at Freeport, Texas, with three crackers able to produce a combined 3.2 million mt/year, 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.”

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

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

**Shell: Deer Park, Texas, refining and chemical complex, including two crackers with a combined 961,000 mt/year of capacity

**Shell: Norco, Louisiana, refining and chemical complex, including two crackers with a combined capacity of 1.42 million mt/year

**Chevron Phillips Chemical: Pasadena, Texas, 998,000 mt/year HDPE; also has cumulative 5.35 million mt/year in capacity of six crackers in Port Arthur, Baytown and Sweeny, Texas

RESTARTS

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

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

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

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

**ExxonMobil: Beaumont, Texas, restart activity begun; 826,000 mt/year cracker; 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: Restarts for 380,000 mt/year EO/MEG, Lake Charles, Louisiana

**Formosa Plastics USA: 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

PRICES

**US February spot ethylene prices rose 1.75 cents/lb to 50 cents/lb FD Mont Belvieu and were up 3.25 cents to 47 cents/lg FD Choctaw; for March, the FD Mont Belvieu marker rose 1.75 cents to 47.75 cents/lb and the FD Choctaw marker climbed 3.25 cents to 46.25 cents/lb

**US spot polymer-grade propylene prices fell 23 cents Feb. 24 to 102 cents/lb FD USG, retreating from a fresh all-time high of $1.25/lb FD USG reached Feb. 23, on news of two US PDH unit restarts

**US export homopolymer injection-grade polypropylene assessed $88 higher on the week Feb. 24 at $2,568-$2,590/mt FAS Houston

**US export polyvinyl chloride prices were assessed flat on the week at $1,400/mt FAS Houston, but market participants talked of pricing levels as high as $1,600/mt FAS once producers are able to make volumes available

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