Asian styrene costs tumble down
Benzene production costs are down when compared to the beginning of May, by around $70/ton, and pose as a downward factor on styrene costs. Apart from that, players highlight weak downstream demand in Asian markets as well as the lowered operating rates at many plants. According to players, Jiangsu Leasty Chemical lowered their operating rates from 75-85% in April to 50% in May for their 360,000 tons/year EPS plant. Japanese Denki Kagaku Kogyo reduced their GPPS run rates by 10-20% in May when compared to their run rates in April. The Xingda Group also lowered their EPS run rates by 20% in May while they were running at full rates back in April. In general, overall operating rates in China are reported to be below 50% capacity, according to market players.
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Asian styrene costs had previously recorded significant increases on the back of the heavy maintenance season, mostly in South Korea. The maintenance shutdowns were mainly planned around the April-May period and many of the restarts were slated for June. Although there has been no official restart news at the time of publishing, the market sentiment is under the influence of the expected restarts. Meanwhile, easing supply issues in Asia, due to incoming deep-sea cargoes, were pointed to as another reason behind the styrene drops.
To track weekly developments in Southeast Asia’s PS market, please see SEA/India PS Polymer Digest (For members only)
The decreases on styrene have started to take their toll on PS offers and, as a result of the drops, a couple of Asian PS producers have already cut their PS prices by $30-50/ton to Southeast Asia during last week. An agent of one of these producers reported that demand remains weak while their offers are still open to negotiations. A source from another producer noted, “We were only able to conclude a few deals after agreeing to discounts and our customers still ask for further discounts given the large drop in styrene costs. Therefore, we may consider holding onto our inventory and waiting for a rebound before returning to the market.”
A trader operating in China noted, “Demand is not encouraging at all and most buyers are sidelined from the market. Import Southeast Asian origins were available towards the higher end of the range earlier last week, but these offers became scarce towards the end of the week, failing to generate any buying interest.”
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