Q3-10 starts on a weak note for Asian propylene

Spot propylene prices have posted decreases of over US$110/MT in the past month in Asia. As per Chemorbis, month-over-month increases for the first 4 months of 2010 were followed by a decline of US$290/ton when compared with the beginning of May. Asia’s spot propylene market started 2010 on a firm note- spot propylene prices rose by US$50/ton in January, US$35/ton in February, stabilized in March before posting a US$45/ton rise in April. Spot propylene prices began to turn downward in May after losing support from the upstream complex. After beginning the month of May at prices slightly above US$86/barrel, crude oil prices lost nearly US$20/barrel in as many days to fall below the US$70/barrel threshold, while spot naphtha prices have dropped by US$163/ton since the beginning of May. Although crude oil prices recovered some lost ground over the course of June and are still hovering above the US$70/barrel, this change did not help reverse the bearish sentiment in Asian propylene markets as the ongoing global financial turmoil as well as easing supply owing to the passing of the Asian cracker maintenance season dampened buying interest. After losing US$250/ton over the course of May, propylene prices staged a short-lived rally at the beginning of June before declining by US$55/ton over the last three weeks of the month. In the first four working days of July, spot propylene prices have already posted an additional US$55/ton price decline. In addition to the passing of the high cracker maintenance season in Asia, the upcoming start-up of several new capacities in Asia along with a bearish outlook for PP demand is expected to contribute to a further lengthening of propylene supplies in the region. China’s Sinopec Zhenhai reached on-spec production at its 500,000 tpa propylene plant in the middle of June, while Indonesia’s Pertamina is preparing to start-up its 180,000 tpa metathesis unit by the end of this month. Thailand’s HMC Polymers is also expected to start up its plant with 300,000 tpa of propylene capacity late this month.
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