Ethylene prices in USA have closed the last week of 2011 on a higher note amid shutdowns planned in the region in Q1-2012, and higher upstream costs as oil prices hover around US$100/barrel, as per ChemOrbis.
In the closing week of 2011, spot ethylene prices moved up by US$22/ton after rising US$55/ton during the previous week. The most recent spot ethylene prices in USA indicate a cumulative increase of US$72-83/ton from the start of December. Mid May saw spot ethylene prices peaking to the highest levels of 2011 on the back of production issues at the time, which had led to better buying interest in the region.
Producers in the US are planning shutdowns as early as January -ExxonMobil is planning a six week shutdown at their 1.86 mln tpa Baytown, Texas cracker in January. Shell Chemicals is mulling a maintenance shutdown at their 886,000 tpa cracker located in Norco, Louisiana, in the first half of January as per ChemOrbis. Their OP-5 unit will be down for 19 days although the company has not confirmed this information officially at the time of publishing. There is also talk that Dow Chemical’s St. Charles, Louisiana cracker with 590,000 tpa capacity is amongst the crackers to be shutdown in January. LyondellBasell is planning to halt operations between February and April at their 770,000 tpa cracker in the US. Chevron Phillips Chemical and BASF-Total are mulling over conducting maintenance at their crackers during the same period, February-April 2012. The company’s crackers have 952,000 tpa and 885,000 tpa capacity, respectively.