Two major crackers return in Europe, import availability grows

30-Oct-12
The European ethylene market saw two major crackers return to operations after delayed restarts last week, as per ChemOrbis. Cracker shutdowns in the region had led to tight prompt supplies in Northwest Europe earlier in the month. LyondellBasell’s cracker in Wesseling, Germany with a capacity of 735,000 tpa restarted after being shut in August for maintenance, said players in Europe. The shutdown was scheduled for six weeks and the cracker was to restart in early October. Unexpected problems reportedly delayed the restart to last week, according to players in the region. They report the cracker was producing on-spec material by the end of the week. The joint venture cracker in Mossmorran, Scotland with a capacity of 800,000 tpa belonging to Shell Chemicals and ExxonMobil also reportedly restarted. It was shut at the end of August and was also set to restart earlier this month. A delay in the restart caused Shell to declare force majeure on ethylene supplies on October 18. Shell has not confirmed whether the force majeure has been lifted yet. Meanwhile, the spot ethylene market in Europe has seen softening prices over the past two weeks as supply had been affected by the delayed restarts but demand has not been supportive, as per ChemOrbis. Also last week, players talked of more deep-sea availability from the Middle East as the Asian market had slowed over the last week. This is contrast to the previous week when import availability was considered limited because of an up-tick in ethylene prices in Asia after mid-month. Posturing for the November contracts has begun with producers talking of a rollover in the ethylene price, but buyers comment they are looking for a decrease in the new contract figure.
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