The Week in Chemistry: US PE contracts down US$0.03/lb in June, spot PP level for past month; South Korea cuts naphtha tariffs in bid to boost petrochemical industry competitiveness; North American chemical rail carloads total 40,323 for week ended July 8

Sample article from our Chemicals Industry

LOS ANGELES , July 14, 2023 () –


US Resins

A slowdown in spot resin trading during the week of July 4 brought PE pricing down by about a cent in the middle of the week before demand improved by Friday, according to the PlasticsExchange report.

Meanwhile, PE contracts for June fell by US$0.03/lb., but are still at a net gain of US$0.03/lb. thus far in 2023. Another US$0.03/lb. increase has been proposed for July.

PP trading during the week was subdued, keeping spot prices level for the past month.

Contracts, previously exceeding spot prices, are trending downward toward similar levels.

The primary source of this information is Plastics Today.

Naphtha Trading

South Korea announced on July 6 that it will eliminate its 0.5% import tariff on naphtha and crude oil used in naphtha production, opening lower-cost options to petrochemical manufacturers.

The move is part of efforts to reduce inflation and improve consumer demand, according to the country’s finance ministry.

The downstream petrochemical industry also faces stiff competition from growing capacities out of China, India and the Middle East. South Korea’s tariff reduction is aimed at reducing production costs to support more competitive pricing of commodities such as ethylene.

Still, some petrochemical operators say the reduced tariff offers only a little relief to poor margins.

According to a Platts assessment, the spread between CFR Northeast Asia ethylene and CRF Japan naphtha was US$251.25/tonne on July 6, only slightly above the breaking even spread of US$250/tonne.

The primary source of this information is S&P Global Platts.

North American Chemical Rail Traffic

North American chemical railcar volumes totaled 40,323 carloads during the week ended July 8, down 14.6% on the week and down 4.6% year-over-year. 

On a four-week moving average basis, traffic totaled 43,658 carloads, down 4.4% year-over-year.

In the US, the four-week moving average totaled 30,194 loads, also a 4.4% year-over-year decrease.  

Canada’s railcar volume for the week came to 12,591 carloads on a four-week moving average basis, while Mexico’s volumes totaled 874 carloads.

The primary source of this information is MRC.

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