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Impact of styrene turnarounds yet to be seen on European PS market

  • 11/01/2018 (04:01)
In Europe, two major styrenics producers, Ineos and Trinseo, approached the PS market with January hikes of €20-30/ton, both surpassing the monthly styrene upsurge of €10/ton. It was up until the second half of December that players were uttering increase expectations of up to three digits for January given the planned maintenance shutdowns at several styrene units in Q1. However, the volatility of styrene monomer and holiday lull have caused increase expectations to lose steam this month. A player argued, “It seems that we will see the real impact of the styrene turnarounds with some delay.”

Despite the fact that January is a shorter month and demand is lackluster, the entire amount of the initial January hikes was reflected on deals in some cases. A buyer in Germany acknowledged, “We sourced on a needs only basis, paying increases of €25-30/ton. We also heard about competitive Iranian offers below the local ranges; but we still prefer to purchase from the local market. The outlook is firmer until March.”

European suppliers were generally offering with €15-20/ton hikes while some of the sellers decided to offer with relatively smaller hikes of €10/ton. The reason was that players only started to come back to their desks as of January 8 following their extended holidays.

There are also some buyers who aim to close their January deals with rollovers to €10/ton increases in line with the styrene upsurge. They think that the lack of supply issues for PS and the lower-than-expected outcome of styrene contracts might lead to stable to slightly higher deals in January; however, expectations for the rest of the first quarter are still firm and the pressure from maintenance shutdowns at styrene units is expected to increase significantly in the following months.

An Italian trader reported concluding higher deals compared to the pre-holiday levels and said, “We are receiving good inquiries from our customers. Our supplier informed us about a firmer trend throughout the first quarter. Prices will sustain firming until March whereas prices might start softening as of April once supply pressure ease. However, PS supplies are comfortable as we didn’t face any difficulty in finding extra allocations.”

A reseller said, “Larger hikes are awaited for February and March when planned shutdowns at styrene plants will bring a new dimension to the tightness.”
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