Ethylene dips lower in US as purity ethane tanks to three-year low

Spot assessments on Mont Belvieu ethane for June delivery hit a three-year low – falling 4.75 cents to 34 cents/gal, as per Platts. The assessment was the lowest since 32.50 cents/gal on April 1, 2009. Sources said the market reflected strong supply and weak demand as maintenance outages were seen at many petrochem plants over thepast couple of months coupled with saturation of supplies in a Gulf Coast market with ramping supply from booming shale plays. ONEOK last week began to restart its 160,000 b/d MB-1 NGL fractionator in Mont Belvieu, Texas, according to state environmental regulators. The steep downward movement in ethane was felt downstream in the ethylene market on Wednesday, where spot shed 4.25 cents/lb in late-morning and early-afternoon trading to hit a seven-month low. Spot ethylene has been in decline since reaching record-high assessments of 75 cents/lb April 30-May 4, and has lost 16 cents/lb since May 1. The fall has come as the olefins industry is on the tail end of a busy turnaround season that began in January amid lackluster demand from key downstream markets, including polyethylene and styrene.
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