PLASTICS NEWS 2006/12/15

PE, PP, PVC resin prices fall again

Buyers of polyethylene, polypropylene and PVC stayed on the sidelines in November,
sending prices tumbling once again.

Average North American selling prices for PE dipped 6 cents per pound for the month, while PP prices took a 7 cent tumble and PVC prices slipped an average of 2 cents, according to buyers contacted recently by Plastics News.

North American
PE makers had been exporting a good deal of material out of the region, but recent shipping problems at Houston ports have caused material to back up into the domestic market, according to Frances Moore-Jones, a market analyst with Townsend Polymer Services & Information in Houston. Moore-Jones added that drops in pricing for ethylene feedstock also contributed to soft pricing in the recent PE market.

Through September, U.S./Canadian sales of high and linear low density PE were up less than 2 percent vs. their 2006 levels, while LDPE sales in the region were down about 1 percent, according to the American Plastics Council in Arlington, Va.

The top gainer for HDPE has been the pipe and conduit market, which consumed 17 percent more material in the first nine months of 2006 than it did in the year-ago period. Through September, that market accounted for about 15 percent of domestic HDPE demand, according to APC. The LLDPE market was paced by trash bags and can liners, where demand was up almost 3 percent.

s Chemical Market Associates Inc. consulting firm now estimates that North American PE operating rates will be 81-86 percent in the fourth quarter. Thats down from third-quarter levels of 90-94 percent.

PP sales also were down about 1 percent in the nine-month period, according to APC. The drop came in spite of a gain of almost 3 percent in injection molded caps and closures - a segment that made up about 7 percent of the domestic market.

CMAI estimates fourth-quarter operating rates for
PP in North America at 88 percent, down from 91 percent in the third quarter.

PVC demand declined even as its dominant rigid pipe and tubing segment consumed 2 percent more material in the nine-month period. The domestic PVC market weathered sizable demand drops in the siding and calendaring markets.

There was little demand in October and no demand at all in November,a Midwest-based PVC buyer said.

Another PVC buyer based in the Southeast said the U.S.
housing market - which provides 60-70 percent of PVC demand - might not bounce back until mid-2007 because of an overstock of new homes available.

Decreased activity in the PVC market also has led PVC maker
Georgia Gulf Corp. temporarily to stop production of PVC feedstock vinyl chloride monomer at its plant in Lake Charles, La., industry sources said. The site has annual capacity of 850 million pounds of VCM. Officials with Atlanta-based Georgia Gulf could not be reached for comment.  (他に CertainTeed

CMAIs fourth-quarter operating rate estimate for North American PVC is 76 percent, a steep drop from a third-quarter level of 94 percent.

Buyers of PE and PP are expecting further price drops in December, although at lower amounts than what they saw in November. PE makers have a total of 13 cents in price increases already announced for early 2007, while PP makers have a 5 cent increase attempt on the table for Jan. 1.

December might still be slow,Townsends Moore-Jones said. But theres nothing that would make you think the soft demand trend would continue into 2007.

Several buyers of PE, PP and PVC said they expect soft demand conditions to continue in December. Kevin McCarthy, a stock analyst with Banc of America Securities LLC in New York, agreed, saying in a Dec. 12 research note that petrochemical prices and margins could drop in December because of U.S. economic deceleration, seasonal softness and buyersreluctance to restock.

As a result of lower volumes and margins, McCarthy has lowered Banc of America
s earnings estimates and per-share price targets for petrochemicals makers Dow Chemical Co., Lyondell Chemical Co., Nova Chemicals Corp. and Westlake Chemical Corp.

In total, PE prices now have dropped an average of 15 cents - or 18 percent - since Oct. 1, based on the Plastics News resin pricing chart. PP prices have dipped 11 cents (13 percent) and PVC prices are down 4 cents (6 percent) for the same period.





2006/12/12 Platts  

Georgia Gulf's Lake Charles VCM plant down on weak vinyls demand 
Georgia Gulf's Lake Charles VCM operations were down in early December, as demand for vinyls was not sufficient to keep the plant up, a
source familiar with the company's operations told Platts. The Lake Charles plant has the capacity to produce 850 million lbs/year of VCM.
A fire erupted at the site in mid-September, which damaged two of three furnaces. One of the furnaces was returned to service temporarily, but was taken down after demand for downstream PVC weakened later in the fourth quarter.
It was unclear when vinyls demand would return, and when the Lake Charles plant would resume VCM production.

2006/11/3 Plastics News  

CertainTeed to shut vinyl siding site in Kansas

Building products giant CertainTeed Corp. announced it will shut down its vinyl siding extrusion plant in McPherson, Kan., effective Feb. 2. About 120 will lose their jobs.
The Valley Forge-based company cited the usual suspects as the impetus behind the move:
a sluggish housing market, eroding demand for vinyl siding and industrywide overcapacity. "The market has declined enough that we can't keep producing at the rate we produce it and sell it for more than we make it for,"
CertainTeed spokesman Mike Loughery said Nov. 3 by phone.CertainTeed will continue to run its injection molded polymer siding and foundation drainage products plants in McPherson. Loughery said CertainTeed has been given the green light by parent company Cie. de Saint-Gobain in Paris to add pipe extrusion capacity in Kansas. That project is expected to ramp up in the next six months.
CertainTeed evaluated all four of its vinyl siding extrusion plants before choosing to close the McPherson operation, Loughery said. Geography ended up being the determining factor. "Really it is a matter of where the projected growth markets are," he said.
CertainTeed's three other vinyl siding plants are in Jackson, Mich.; Hagerstown, Md.; and Social Circle, Ga. The South is heavily influenced by Spanish- and Mediterranean-style architecture, which is typically sided with stucco.

Platts 2006/12/14

US polymer resin export bottleneck persists; bleeds into Q1 '07    問題点

The bottleneck on polymer resin exports continued to grow, according to market sources surveyed this week. "The (US) ports are backlogged right now," one trader said. "It is bad -- it is really bad," another global trader said Thursday.

The situation, which
began with heavy export volumes fixed in October and November, had persisted, and appeared to be bleeding well into Q1 2007, according to one source, who estimated the backlog at US Gulf Coast warehouses to be 45-60 days.

The source said they were not considering any new export shipments until February, due to a the lack of certainty of being able to get resin into the warehouses and then into bags.

The source estimated that
the cost of bags needed to export resin has risen by roughly 60% since earlier this year. Typically bag prices run in the mid 20cts/bag range, and one trader said they've seen bag prices to spike to about 40 cts/bag.

The rising bag prices and
premiums that some say warehouses were asking because of the log-jam of product, had caused the overall price to take resin from a hopper car and put it in bags for export to rise. That rate typically runs around 2 cts/lb, but one source estimated that the minimum rate to bag product now was 2.5 cts/lb.

Because of the squeeze on the export logistics center, export prices had edged higher during the month for most resins, including all grades of polyethylene, polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride.

In the PE market however sources said that US resin was readily available from producers -- the problem was export buyers sould not easily move product until well into 2007.

November 24, 2006  Platts

Rising US polyolefin resin exports cause warehouse, rail delays

Polyolefin export volumes out of the US have increased dramatically during October and November, straining rail logistics and bagging operations in the Houston area, US market sources told Platts in mid-November.

One producer said it has sold more polyethylene resin for export in the past five weeks than it had in the first 9 months of the year.

"I've been getting calls to sell 80 cars at a time," the source said. And traders reported that they were moving large quantities of material off shore to Asia.

Rail and bagging issues are keeping some volumes from making it to the port, and traders are concerned that delays will keep cargoes from arriving in Asia before the Chinese New Year holiday.

A warehouse backlog of at least one month was common for some distributors and small-volume resellers, US polypropylene market sources said. Producers and larger-volume resellers were experiencing delays as well, but not of the same duration, sources said.

"We were told it was a month on the backlog as late as last week (November 10)," a US distributor source said November 15. "(Exporters) who show up with a few railcars are being pushed to the back of the line." Another US PP market source said some warehouses in Houston are not accepting any deliveries until at least December 15-20.

Another source said there are railroad embargos limiting permits in the Houston area and because of the rail delays, packaging can not be done until January.

This makes the timing of export cargoes to Asia quite tight for any seller trying to get resin to that region ahead of the Chinese New Year.

According to market sources, container ships must leave the US Gulf by no later than mid-December in order to arrive at Chinese main ports before the long holiday. Shipping times from the US Gulf Coast to Asia average about 45 days.

Some traders have stepped away from the spot polyethylene export market in mid-November. "I've got some railcars coming at the end of November that I hope to get out before the end of the year," the trader said, noting that delays have lengthened.

US PP market participants said some exporters are not willing to wait on backlogs to clear, and are actively moving plastic resins of every variety to both the US West Coast and the US East Coast in order to get their volumes packaged and ready to be shipped.

The boom in export volumes is the result of weak demand in the US domestic market, which has lengthened producer inventories, sources said.

In the polypropylene market, sources said that a lengthy destocking period in September and October, during which consumers covered requirements with on-site inventory, had been completed. Producers also cut production rates during that period. But, there is still not enough US domestic demand, and producers are using exports as a way to keep their own inventories from getting too high.

Availability of railcars so far have not been a limiting factor in the export market, as domestic consumers are not taking as much material because of falling US prices.

One producer said that US consumers are only taking enough resin to meet demand in the currently depressed domestic market, which has made more railcars available.

As a result, the source said that empty cars for domestic consumers are returning to the plant quicker than normal.

Congestion at resin warehouses and packaging facilities, however, has created some concerns, a source said. "It takes eight to ten days to move a railcar from one side of Houston to the other,"one market source said.

The bottlenecks at the packaging facilities have been partially alleviated by increased shifts, one market source said. Under normal market conditions, packaging facilities operate about 10 hours a day, the source said.

Despite the increased demand for bagging, costs have not gone up, one producer said. However, traders have reported bagging fees about a half-cent higher per pound in some cases, up from 2 cents/lb under normal conditions.

One trader said it was still doing business for export, despite the complicated logistics, but November business was now completed. December export prices have not surfaced yet, and market sources were mixed on the direction of prices.

A producer, however, said it expected domestic prices to firm in December, as inventories were tight because of the increased export activity. Producers issued December price increases of 6 cents/lb, which buyers have said would not find support in a low-demand market.