At press time in mid-October, the impact of Hurricane Ike on Gulf Coast refineries and resin plants was still being assessed.

At press time in mid-October, the impact of Hurricane Ike on Gulf Coast refineries and resin plants was still being assessed. Just a few suppliers had declared force majeure, although some, such as ExxonMobil, were placing customers on allocation and others were assessing the potential for such a move. Even though it could be weeks before the Gulf Coast chemical industry gets back to normal, observers last month doubted supply disruptions would be as great as in 2005 after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Just before Ike struck, commodity resin prices seemed headed for a nosedive. Crude oil prices were slumping, as were those of petrochemical feedstocks. Domestic demand remained weak, but suddenly exports had dried up as well, removing the one prop that had held up domestic resin production. Resin suppliers’ inventories started swelling, and better price deals were in the air. It seemed clear that, barring a devastating event, polyolefin prices, particularly PE, were embarked on a downward path.

 

PE PRICES DROPPING

Polyethylene prices dropped in early September, wiping out the 7¢/lb increases that had arrived in July and August. While the price declines were not universal, they were expected to broaden by the month’s end. Another indicator, the London Metal Exchange (LME) North American short-term futures contract for blown film LLDPE, was 71¢/lb for October, down from September’s 75¢/lb.

Contributing factors: There was an uptick in PE resin buying in late July and August, ahead of the 8¢/lb price hike announced in August. Last month, that hike looked dead on arrival, according to Mike Burns, global business director for PE at resin purchasing consultant Resin Technology, Inc. (RTI) in Fort Worth, Texas. “There is no justification for higher resin prices,” he said. “Processors are only buying as needed. The export market is gone, and monomer prices are dropping.” Burns did not expect to see any significant PE price increases for at least six months.

Ethylene monomer contract prices settled at 74.5¢/lb in July, but there were strong indications that August-September contracts would be at least 10¢ lower. Ethylene precursor ethane dropped from $1.50/lb to 88¢/lb, back to where it was a year ago.

 

PP PRICES DOWN

Polypropylene prices dropped an average of 2¢/lb in August, and there appeared to be no chance the 6¢ increase due Aug. 1 would survive. More and possibly larger decreases in PP prices appeared likely before the storm arrived last month. What’s more, the LME North American short-term futures contract for October in g-p injection-grade homopolymer sold for 68¢/lb, down sharply from September’s 77¢.

Contributing factors: August contract prices for propylene monomer settled at 85¢/lb, but at press time, September contract nominations signaled an impending drop of as much as 20¢/lb. Spot propylene monomer was selling in the 50-53¢/lb range in late August and early September.

Said Scott Newell, director of client services for PP at RTI, “Expect a big correction in PP prices in September and October. Prices for PP could come down 20¢/lb by the end of September and another 5¢ in October.” He said PP suppliers’ inventories grew by 200 million lb due to lack of domestic demand and a big drop in exports—except to Latin America. However, he noted that unlike PE, the profit margins were so poor for PP, that PP resin prices could bounce back to some degree.

Addressing the uncertain impact of Hurricane Ike, one leading PP supplier says, “All bets are off” until things are assessed. “We have indication that propylene monomer will be very tight, and we went into the Hurricane event with only two- to three-day monomer inventories.” This source insists that no matter how much monomer prices drop, don’t expect PP resin prices to drop the same amount. RTI’s Newell says that prior to Ike, monomer inventories at most propylene suppliers had been growing consistently for over eight weeks. “We might see a tightening of propylene supply, but it will be short-term, as we were in good shape in terms of inventory build-up going into it.”

 

PET PRICES SAG

PET prices dropped 5¢/lb in August and September. Further declines are likely.

Contributing factors: PET tabs continue to track prices of feedstocks—paraxylene and ethylene glycol—which dropped 5.5¢/lb. Said Michael Dewsbury, PET global business director for RTI, if oil prices continue to drop, these feedstocks will drop further and PET resin prices will track them nearly penny for penny.

While PET suppliers implemented increases of 15¢ to 17¢/lb through July, margins were basically nil, as the increases exactly mirrored the price hikes of PET feedstocks. Dewsbury ventures that PET resin tabs could drop another 5¢/lb, if not more.

 

PVC: CALM AFTER STORMS

In mid-September, PVC producers were still assessing the disruption from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike earlier in the month, which caused extensive power outages, flooding, and disruption of transportation from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. PVC producers lost one to two weeks of production to the storms.

Georgia Gulf put out a letter moving its 4¢ increase from Aug. 1 to Sept. 1, but it was not supported by other suppliers. Shin-Tech and OxyVinyls declared force majeure. Shin-Tech’s Freeport and Plaquemine plants restarted right away and are expected to be back in full production soon, but the Addis, La., plant is making repairs and is not expected to be working before the end of September. Formosa in Point Comfort has no major damage and is resuming full production, pending availability of feedstock. OxyChem is on sales control.

Contributing factors: With feedstock prices falling and demand very weak, processors had expected PVC prices to drop a penny in September, but hurricanes delayed that. The problem is getting people back to work, power back up and feedstock pipelines full again. Flooding has extensively disrupted rail shipping, both for incoming feedstock and delivery of product, much of which is moving in bulk trucks instead.

 

PS: DELAYED INCREASE

Ineos and America’s Styrenics both delayed hikes of 4¢ for crystal and 5¢ for HIPS from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1, a move not supported by Total in mid-September. America’s Styrenics was on allocation.

Contributing factors: Demand was very weak, processors say. The storm made feedstock supply the big issue, expected to keep prices level through September, despite falling prices for oil (under $100/bbl in mid-September) and natural gas. HIPS is a concern because two suppliers of butadiene declared force majeure. 

 

Market Prices Effective Mid-Sept A

 
 
 RESIN GRADEb¢/LB¢/CU INc 

 ABS 

  

  
 
 MED IMPACT   95 - 115     359 - 434    
 HI IMPACT   100 - 135     378 - 510    
 X-HI IMPACT   110 - 150     415 - 567    
 HI HEAT   95 - 130     359 - 491    
 PIPE   95 - 105     359 - 396    
 SHEET   99 - 115     374 - 434    
 TRANSPARENT   134 - 205     506 - 774    
 FITTINGS   94 - 115     374 - 434    
 PLATING   134 - 205     506 - 774    
 FLAME RET   129 - 145     487 - 548    
 STRUCT FM   92 - 102     347 - 385    
 10% GLASS   134 - 145     506 - 548    
 30% GLASS   129 - 141     487    
 ABS/PC ALLOY   154 - 185     532 - 699    
 ABS/PVC ALLOY   139 - 144     525 - 544    
 ABS/NYLON ALLOY   199 - 355     752 - 1341    

 ACETAL 

  

  
 
 HOMOPOL   151 - 172     7.7 - 8.7    
 20% GLASS   171 - 235     8.7 - 11.9    
 COPOLYMER   144 - 160     7.3 - 8.1    
 25% GLASS   171 - 245     8.7 - 12.4    

 ACRYLIC 

  

  
 
 G-P   117     5.0    
 IMPACT   192     8.2    

 ACRYLONITRILE COPOL 

  

  
 
 EXTRUSION   101 - 116     4.0 - 4.6    
 INJECTION   120 - 135     4.8 - 5.4    

 ALKYD 

65 - 74   

4.9 - 5.5   
 

 CELLULOSICS 

  

  
 
 ACETATE   187     8.6    
 CAB   189     8.2    
 CAP   189     8.2    

 DAP (G-P) 

251 - 497   

16.7 - 34.7   
 

 EPOXY 

  

  
 
 G-P RESIN   116 - 126     NAd    
 COMPOUNDS          
 C/B/Te   123 - 166     9.4 - 12.9    
 R/C/Df   208 - 271     15.3 - 20.1    
 SEMICONDUCTOR          
 NOVOLAC   193 - 228     13.1 - 15.9    
 ANHYDRIDE   188 - 268     13.9 - 19.2    

 EVA 

  

  
 
 INJECTION   69 - 71     2.3 - 2.4    
 FILM EXTRU   67 - 69     2.3    

 EVOH 

330   

15   
 

 FLUORO-POLYMER 

  

  
 
 CTFE   5000 - 6000     385 - 462    
 ECTFE   1200 - 1680     90.7 - 120    
 ETFE   1205 - 1730     80.7 - 115.8    
 FEP   971 - 1470     74.8 - 113.2    
 PFA   1550 - 2520     120 - 195    
 PTFE   500 - 950     33.5 - 63.6    
 PVDF   730 - 1100     47 - 70    

 IONOMER 

  

  
 
 PACKAGING   127 - 166     4.3 - 6.0    
 INDUSTRIAL   150 - 244     5.0 - 8.3    

 LIQUID-CRYSTAL POLYMERS 

  

  
 
 INJECTION MIN FILLED   690 - 1035     44.2 - 72.1    
 GLASS FILLED   695 - 895     40 - 52    
 CARBON FILLED   1700 - 2000     83.2 - 138.6    
 UNFILLED   1000 - 1200     58 - 70    
 EXTRUSION UNFILLED   1200 - 2200     60.5 - 110.9    

 MELAMINE COMPOUND 

90 - 94   

5.5 - 5.6   
 

 MELAMINE/PHENOLIC COMPOUND 

75 - 83   

4.5 - 5.0   
 

 NYLON 

  

  
 
 TYPE 6   139 - 159     5.7 - 6.5    
 MIN FILLED   131 - 144     5.4 - 5.9    
 30% GLASS   148 - 173     6.0 - 7.0    
 TYPE 66   153 - 168     6.3 - 6.9    
 MIN FILLED   151 - 159     6.2 - 6.5    
 30% GLASS   142 - 192     5.8 - 7.9    
 TYPE 69   250 - 276     9.7 - 10.7    
 TYPE 6/10   286 - 313     12.4 - 13.6    
 TYPE 612   400     15.3    
 30% GLASS   309 - 311     14.7    
 40% GLASS   309     14.7    
 TYPE 46   295     12.6    
 TYPE 11   650 - 750     24.3 - 28    
 30% GLASS   NAd - NAd     NAd - NAd    
 40% GLASS   NAd - NAd     NAd - NAd    
 TYPE 12   318 - 341     12.1 - 13.0    
 30% GLASS   327 - 350     14.7 - 15.8    
 50% GLASS   299 - 340     15.6 - 17.8    
 TRANSPARENT AMORPHOUS   247 - 360     10.3 - 15.0    

 PHENOLIC MOLD COMP 

75   

3.8   
 
 REINFORCED GRADES   105 - 268     6.1 - 16    

 POLYAMIDE-IMIDEg 

  

  
 
 UNFILLED   2750     148.5    
 30% GLASS   2500     135    
 30% CARBON FIB.   3500     185    

 POLYARYLATE 

200 - 280   

8.8 - 12.3   
 

 POLYARYL SULFONE 

440   

21.8   
 

 POLYBUTYLENE 

  

  
 
 G-P   94 - 96     3.1    
 FILM   88 - 91     2.9    
 PIPE          
 COLD WATER   116 - 120     3.9 - 4.0    
 HOT WATER   162 - 166     5.5 - 5.6    

 POLYCARBONATE 

  

  
 
 INJECTION   171 - 182     7.4 - 7.9    
 20% GLASS   177 - 190     7.6 - 8.2    
 30% GLASS   178 - 217     7.6 - 9.3    
 EXTRUSION   145 - 180     6.3 - 7.8    
 BLOW MOLD   150 - 185     7.0 - 7.5    
 STRUCT FOAM   149 - 181     6.4 - 7.8    
 20% GLASS   235 - 255     10.1 - 11.0    
 FR   166 - 197     7.1 - 8.5    
 CD   135 - 195     5.8 - 8.4    

 POLYESTER (TP) PBT TYPE 

  

  
 
 UNFILLED   145 - 150     6.8 - 7.3    
 HI-IMP   165 - 175     7.8 - 8.3    
 30% GLASS, FR   195 - 215     9.2 - 10.1    
 STRUCT FOAM   159 - 165     NAd    

 PET 

  

  
 
 BOTTLE (RAILCAR)   86 - 88 Prices Went Down 
  4.6 Prices Went Down 
 
 MOD PET          
 30% GLASS   132 - 143     7.4    
 55% GLASS   148 - 155     9.8    
 30% GLASS FLAME RET   147 - 157     9.2    
 PETG COPOL   114 - 124     5.2 - 5.6    

 POLYESTER THERMOSET 

  

  
 
 G-P ORTHO   154 - 164     NAd    
 ISOPHTHALIC   183 - 198     NAd    
 BIS-A   218 - 238     NAd    

 PEEK 

4400   

231   
 
 30% GLASS   3300     173    

 POLYETHERIMIDE 

641 - 646   

29.3 - 29.5   
 
 30% GLASS   526 - 531     24.0 - 24.2    

 POLYETHERKETONE (PEK) 

2950   

130.1   
 
 30% GLASS   2600     153    

 POLYETHERSULFONE 

350 - 400   

17.2 - 19.7   
 
 30% GLASS   425 - 525     21 - 25.9    

 POLYETHYLENE (RAILCAR) LDPE 

  

  
 
 G-P MOLDING & EXTRU   86 - 89 Prices Went Down 
  2.9 Prices Went Down 
 
 INJECTION   88 - 90 Prices Went Down 
  2.9 Prices Went Down 
 
 LID RESIN   90 - 92 Prices Went Down 
  2.9 Prices Went Down 
 
 LINER   87 - 89 Prices Went Down 
  2.9 Prices Went Down 
 
 CLARITY   84 - 86 Prices Went Down 
  2.7 - 2.8 Prices Went Down 
 
 EXTRU COATG   89 - 91 Prices Went Down 
  2.8 - 2.9 Prices Went Down 
 
 BLOW MOLD   91 - 93 Prices Went Down 
  2.9 Prices Went Down 
 

 LLDPE, BUTENE BASED 

  

  
 
 G-P MOLDING   83 - 85 Prices Went Down 
  2.7 - 2.8 Prices Went Down 
 
 LME 30-DAYj   71.0 Prices Went Down 
  2.2 Prices Went Down 
 
 FILM   88 - 90 Prices Went Down 
  2.8 - 2.9 Prices Went Down 
 
 ROTOMOLD   85 - 87 Prices Went Down 
  2.8 Prices Went Down 
 

 LLDPE, HAO-BASED 

  

  
 
 G-P MOLDING   86 - 88 Prices Went Down 
  2.8 Prices Went Down 
 
 LID RESIN   96 - 98 Prices Went Down 
  2.9 - 3.0 Prices Went Down 
 
 LINER FILM   89 - 91 Prices Went Down 
  2.8 - 2.9 Prices Went Down 
 

 HDPE 

  

  
 
 G-P INJ MOLD   83 - 85 Prices Went Down 
  2.6 - 2.7 Prices Went Down 
 
 FILM   93 - 95 Prices Went Down 
  2.8 Prices Went Down 
 
 BLOW MOLD   93 - 95 Prices Went Down 
  2.8 Prices Went Down 
 

 HMW-HDPE 

  

  
 
 BLOW MOLDING   90 - 92 Prices Went Down 
  2.8 Prices Went Down 
 
 FILM   91 - 93 Prices Went Down 
  2.8 Prices Went Down 
 
 PIPE   98 - 100 Prices Went Down 
  2.9 Prices Went Down 
 

 UHMW-PE 

1.22 - 1.52   

4.1 - 5.1   
 

 PPE/PPO BASED RESIN 

  

  
 
 INJECTION   180     6.8    
 20% GLASSh   283     12.3    
 30% GLASSh   291     13.3    
 EXTRUSIONh   242     9.2    
 STRUCT FM   231     NAd    

 PPS 

  

  
 
 40% GLASS   450 - 520     27.0 - 31.2    
 55% GLASS/MINERAL   345 - 420     22.7 - 27.7    
 65% GLASS/MINERAL   270 - 315     18.9 - 22.1    

 POLYPROPYLENE (RAILCAR) 

  

  
 
 G-P HOMOPOL INJECTION   101 - 103 Prices Went Down 
  3.3 Prices Went Down 
 
 LME 30-DAYj   68.0 Prices Went Down 
  2.0 Prices Went Down 
 
 EXTRUSION FIBER   99 - 101 Prices Went Down 
  3.2 - 3.3 Prices Went Down 
 
 PROFILES   104 - 106 Prices Went Down 
  3.4 Prices Went Down 
 
 RANDOM COPOL   105 - 107     3.4 - 3.5    
 BLOW MOLDING   105 - 107 Prices Went Down 
  3.4 - 3.5 Prices Went Down 
 
 FILM   104 - 106 Prices Went Down 
  3.4 Prices Went Down 
 
 INJECTION   115 - 117 Prices Went Down 
  3.8 Prices Went Down 
 
 IMPACT COPOL   117 - 119     3.8    
 MED IMP   117 - 119 Prices Went Down 
  3.8 - 3.9 Prices Went Down 
 
 HI IMP   119 - 121 Prices Went Up  
  3.9 Prices Went Up  
 

 POLYSTYRENE (RAILCAR) 

  

  
 
 G-P CRYSTAL   98 - 104     3.7 - 3.9    
 HI HEAT   101 - 107     3.8 - 4.0    
 HIPS   103 - 109     3.9 - 4.1    
 SUPER HI IMP   109 - 115     4.1 - 4.3    
 FR   115 - 121     4.3 - 4.5    
 STRUCT FM (FR)   105 - 108     NA    

 EPS 

  

  
 
 UNMODIFIED 95 - 98   NAd    
 MODIFIED 96 - 100    NAd    

 POLYSULFONE 

650 - 750   

29 - 33   
 
 10% GLASS 430 20.6   799 - 875     36 - 39    
 30% GLASS 372 20.01   699 - 775     31 - 35    

 POLYURETHANE (TP) 

  

  
 
 ESTER TYPE   185 - 255     8 - 11    
 ETHER TYPE   245 - 295     10.6 - 13    

 PU ISOCYANATES 

  

  
 
 POLYMERIC MDI   125 - 145     NAd    
 80/20 TDI   135 - 145     NAd    

 PVC RESIN (RAILCAR) 

  

  
 
 G-P HOMOPOL   61 - 63     NAd    
 PIPE 60  NAd    
 FILM   66 - 68     NAd    
 COPOLYMER FLOORING   69 - 74     NAd    
 DISPERSION HOMOPOLY   81 - 87     NAd    
 COPOLYMER   86 - 90     NAd    
 CPVC PIPE COMPOUND   119     NAd    

 PVDC 

  

  
 
 EXTRUDABLE   162     NAd    

 SILICONES 

  

  
 
 MOLD. COMP.   581 - 640     38.1 - 39.3    
 SPECIALTY GR.   891 - 3148     NAd    
 SILICONE/EPOXY   339 - 343     22.5 - 22.8    

 STYRENEACRYLIC 

108 - 112   

3.7 - 4.0   
 

 SAN (G-P) 

80 - 88   

3.0 - 3.3   
 

 STYRENE MALEIC ANHYDRIDE 

  

  
 
 G-P   110 - 115     4.2 - 4.3    
 HI IMP   130 - 140     4.2 - 4.5    
 FR   175 - 183     6.7 - 7.0    

 TP ELASTOMERS 

  

  
 
 OLEFINIC   70 - 76     2.4    
 POLYAMIDE   300 - 350     10.9 - 12.7    
 POLYESTER   200 - 310     8.8 - 13.6    
 STYRENIC   82 - 237     2.9 - 8.3    

 UREA MOLDING COMPOUND 

  

  
 
 BLACK & BROWN          
 WHITE & IVORY          

 VINYL ESTER 

  

  
 
 COR RES   231 - 248     NAd    
 HEAT & COR RES   256 - 261     NAd    

KEY: Colored areas indicate pricing activity. An arrow () indicates direction of price change. aTruckload, unless otherwise specified. bUnfilled, natural color, unless otherwise specified. cBased on typical or average density. dNot applicable. eNovolac and anhydride grades for coils, bushings, transformers. fNovolac and anhydride grades for resisitors, capacitors, diodes. gIn quantities of 20,000 lb. h19,800-lb load. jLME 30-day futures contract for lots of 54,564 lb..