US propylene prices are at all-time highs

(ICIS) -- Record US prices for propylene could encourage more producers to crack larger amounts of propane and butane, a consultant said on Tuesday. US propylene prices are at all-time highs, and more records could be set in the upcoming weeks.

In April, US propylene contracts rose by 15 cents/lb (USD 331/tonne, EUR 221/tonne) in a record-breaking settlement that put polymer-grade propylene (PGP) at 87.50 cents/lb and chemical-grade propylene (CGP) at 86.00 cents/lb.

For May, US propylene producers nominated increases as high as 12.50 cent/lb.

This price run-up is threatening margins for several propylene derivatives. For integrated producers, making more propylene could help protect those margins.


US April ethylene up 6.5%

(ICIS) -- US ethylene contracts for April were mostly settled at 57.25 cents/lb (USD 1.262/tonne, EUR 846/tonne), rising by 3.50 cents/lb from March on higher spot prices and increased production costs, market sources said on Tuesday. US ethylene contracts usually settle at the beginning of the month for the previous calendar month.

Two settlement participants confirmed the April increase that put contracts at 57.25 cents/lb. The April increase is the third in as many months for the US monomer.

Ethylene in March settled at 53.75 cents/lb, rising by nearly 10% from February, also as a result of increased spot prices and higher production costs.


China's EVA prices will remain high in May

(ICIS) -- China's ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) prices will remain high in May and will possibly begin falling only in June, as major producers have yet to face inventory pressure despite weakening demand, industry sources said on Wednesday.

The price of EVA type 5110J was CNY20.600-20.700/tonne (USD 3.169-3.184/tonne) EXW (ex-works) in south China on 7 March and settled at the current high level of CNY21.000-21.100/tonne on 13 April, according to data from Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

The price of EVA type 7350M was USD 2.780/tonne on 28 March. It moved up USD 50/tonne on 29 March to USD 2.830/tonne CFR (cost & freight) CMP (China Main Port) and has remained stable, according to data from Chemease.

A supply crunch has exerted upward pressure on EVA prices since the third quarter of 2010 and widened the buy-sell gap.

Major producer Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Corp (FPC) is operating its 240 KTa EVA plant in Mailiao at nearly full rates, following a turnaround from 1 to 21 March, a company source said.

Besides downstream sectors such as footwear, EVA is used as a solar encapsulation resin in the manufacture of membranes in solar photovoltaic panels.


LyondellBasell is considering debottlenecking its crackers at two US sites

(ICIS) -- LyondellBasell is considering debottlenecking its crackers at Channelview and La Porte, Texas, which could add at least 500m lb/year (227,000 tonnes/year) of ethane-based ethylene capacity, chief executive Jim Gallogly said on Monday. The projects are still in early engineering stages, Gallogly said during an earnings conference call.

LyondellBasell has two crackers in Channelview, Texas, and one in La Porte, Texas. Gallogly did not specify if the company would debottleneck both Channelview crackers or just one.

LyondellBasell is also studying whether it will build a cracker, Gallogly said. Such a project is in the study phase, and the company has not announced plans to actually build one.

If LyondellBasell were to build a cracker, it would do with another company, a concept that Gallogly called a condo cracker.


Sugarcane-based Pantene bottle to launch in Western Europe

(Greener Package) -- Procter & Gamble has begun producing its new Pantene shampoo and conditioner bottles made primarily from plant-based plastic≈a move it first announced last August. This high-density polyethylene material, a first for the haircare industry, is made from sugarcane and will be featured on the Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion collection. The new bottles will be initially launching in Western Europe with expansion plans to the rest of the world over the next two years.

According to P&G, the packaging uses less of the planet's nonrenewable resources, replacing petroleum-based plastic with plastic derived from sugarcane, a natural and renewable resource. The company also notes that sugarcane-derived plastic consumes more than 70% less fossil fuels and releases more than 170% less greenhouse gases per ton than traditional petroleum-based plastic.