Saudi Polymers starts polystyrene marketing drive ahead of plant startup

Saudi Polymers has begun marketing product from its new 200,000 tpa polystyrene plant in March, despite a delay in startup, as per sources in Platts. A polystyrene converter has received offers from Saudi Polymers on their general purpose grade polystyrene crystals, but declined to comment on price details or volumes. Samples will be received from Saudi Polymers. Thereafter, it will take three months to test the GPPS and about 9-12 months to test the high impact polystyrene before placing an order. The PS plant will receive styrene monomer feedstock from Jubail Chevron Philips Company's 777,000 tpa styrene monomer plant at Al Jubail. Prior to the startup of the PS plant, Chevron Philips had been shipping around 10,000-15,000 mt/month of styrene out to its storage facilities in the Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp area. Chevron Philips leased two storage facilities owned by Vopak in the ARA area but gave up on those agreements in 2012 as the excess styrene would be channeled as feed for the PS plant. Sources in the styrene market said that from January to March, CP Chem has moved 5,000-8,000 mt/month of styrene on a spot basis to Northwest Europe, most of which was sold on a CIF ARA basis given that it no longer had storage facilities there. But that will cease once the plant starts. Meanwhile, PS market participants were concerned that the startup of Saudi Polymers' PS plant would depress NWE PS prices as they could be selling their product at a discount to market levels in the initial marketing drive. PS from Saudi Polymers is expected to displace a lot of NWE product that went into the Turkish and North African markets given its strategic geographic proximity to those markets. Saudi Polymers' integrated petrochemicals complex is built around an ethane-propane mix gas cracker, with the capacity to produce 1.165 mln tpa of ethylene and 445,000 tpa of propylene. The entire olefins production is slated for captive use. Downstream from the cracker there is also a 400,000 tpa polypropylene plant and a 100,000 tpa 1-Hexane plant.
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