LyondellBasell’s 210,000 tpa polypropylene (PP) plant at Carrington, UK continues to be inactive after an unplanned shutdown during the weekend of 7/8 August. As per ICIS, date of restart has not yet been set.
These few weeks have seen PP prices easing after a period of tight availability, caused by propylene shortages and reduced PP output. PP suppliers had not built up any excess stock, and a series of upcoming planned cracker shutdowns in Europe led them to expect a balanced situation. The Carrington outage seems to have contributed towards balancing the market. PP suppliers were fairly confident of maintaining the spread between propylene and PP in August, following the €38/tonne ($49/tonne) drop in the August propylene monomer contract price.
An outage at the 300,000 tpa Lavera PP plant in France, jointly owned by INEOS and Total Petrochemicals, is expected to be out of action until the end of the month after failing due to technical issues at the end of July. This outage has also influenced availability in the market. PP buyers are increasingly frustrated by the lack of opportunities to buy material from new plants in the Middle East, mainly due to the delay in starting up many of the plants, and a stronger preference to sell to Asia.
Buying sources hope for a for a reduction in the September propylene contract price which they expected to be transferred to the PP market, but most monomer sources, while acknowledging that propylene monomer availability had eased, were not expecting a significant drop in September.