Spot propylene prices lost ground over the past week both in Europe and in Asia owing to limited buying interest and a lack of availability concerns. Meanwhile,the September propylene contract was settled with increases in the US, with spot prices expected to move higher over the near term in accordance with the increase in the September contract level.
In Asia, spot propylene prices on an FOB Korea basis slipped $40/ton over the past week in spite of higher crude oil and ethylene prices. Limited buying interest along with rising availability of deepsea cargoes were cited as the main factors behind the increase in prices, with producers of derivatives such as PP and ACN commenting that they are not looking to replenish their feedstock inventories over the near term as demand from the Chinese market is expected to be impaired by upcoming holidays in late September and early October, with PP producers complaining that they are having difficulty covering their theoretical production costs based on spot propylene prices even after taking the recent price declines into account.
In Europe, spot polymer grade propylene prices were quoted €10/ton lower than last week’s offer levels, with discussions for spot deals remaining well below the September contract settlement. European buyers reported seeing comfortable availability in the spot market these days, although some buyers expressed concern that spot availability could tighten over the next few weeks after some downstream production issues are resolved. Anticipation of stronger demand from spot buyers in Europe has encouraged some sellers to refrain from offering cargoes to the export market this week, with most players commenting that the arbitrage window between Europe and the US is beginning to close.
In the US, the September contract price for polymer grade propylene was settled last week with an increase of $55/ton from August in accordance with the market’s expectations. The upward movement in prices was supported by news of falling propylene stock levels in the US as well as a shutdown at Petrologistics’ new 500,000 tons/year propane dehydrogenation plant in Texas. Spot quotes for polymer grade propylene were reported nominally unchanged when compared with the prior week, although most players expect to see spot prices in the US move higher along with the higher contract settlement for September.