With the exception of PVC, prices for most other classes of standard thermoplastic remained largely unchanged during the first three weeks of September following limited feedstock cost movement. Demand was disappointingly muted after the holiday season and there was sufficient material available.
L/LDPE, HDPE and PP prices remained unchanged after the ethylene contract price settled on a rollover basis, although producers had initially targeted a price rise.
PS prices softened a little with the styrene monomer reference price declining €13/tonne. PET prices also declined as a result of low demand and higher imports.
PVC, on the other hand, registered strong price gains on the back of tightening supply and good demand.
There was more than enough material available from local suppliers to satisfy the generally muted demand for PE, PP, PET and PS. However, following Hurricane “Laura” in the US, PE and PP imports virtually dried up because production plants in the southeast of the country were heavily damaged. PVC availability was extremely tight as a result of maintenance turnarounds and various unexpected plant outages.
The unplanned plant outrages and production disruptions during September include.
- Inovyn declared force majeure 1 September for VCM from the plant of its sister company Noretyl at the Norwegian facility of Rafnes due to a power failure. Inovyn also declared force majeure for PVC from its facilities in Newton Aycliffe, Stenungsund and Porsgrunn, which are supplied with VCM from Rafnes.
- Chlor-alkali and PVC producer Vynova put its customers on allocation for September supplies, while preparing two of its production sites for October maintenance works.
- Total declared force majeure for metallocene polyethylene (mPE) from its site in Feluy, Belgium on 4 September due to a power outage at the facility.
Several PVC and PET producers across Europe will conduct planned maintenance works at their plants in September and during the fourth quarter if the year.
- Vestolit, Vinnolit and Inovyn were planning maintenance at European PVC facilities in September, with further turnarounds already announced for October.
- Indorama Ventures plans to shut its PET plants for maintenance in Poland and the Netherlands. Spain’s Novapet will be conducting a maintenance shutdown at its Barbastro site and Lithuania’s Neogroup will also shut its PET plant in Klaipeda, Lithuania for maintenance.
A much-anticipated rebound in demand after the end of the holiday season failed to materialise. Many converters ran down their stocks and bought on a needs-only basis. There was a growing feeling that prices would soften during the fourth quarter of the year while the demand outlook was still clouded with uncertainty caused by a resurgence in Covid-19 across the continent.
Packaging and construction continued to fare better than most other sectors while automotive demand remained in the doldrums.