After showing stability for two months of this year, the North American polypropylene market returned to the volcanic behavior it displayed in 2011. PP prices have surged an average of 17 cents per lb since Feb. 1, according to buyers contacted by Plastics News. Selling prices in the region for PET bottle resin have seen a more modest price increase of 4 cents lb since Jan. 1.
The February move resulted from tightness in propylene supply that was caused by a number of refinery maintenance turnarounds, including Exxon Mobil Chemical’s unit in Baytown, Texas, and Dow Chemical’s St. Charles unit in Hahnville, La. A refinery operated by Flint Hills Resources in Port Arthur, Texas, also was down because of a power outage, according to the PetroChem Wire consulting firm.
The double-digit increase comes as the North American PP sector is coming out of a 2011 year in which sales fell more than 4%, according to the American Chemistry Council in Washington. A loss of almost 3% in domestic sales was worsened by a 24% plunge in exports.