The Week in Chemistry: US PE, PP spot prices down about US$0.01/lb for week ended July 28, H1 PE resin sales down 9.4% year-over-year, PP down 7%; Europe falls out of favor with petrochemical producers as a growth market amid high energy prices

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LOS ANGELES , August 3, 2023 () –


US Resins: Week ended July 28

US resin trading slowed somewhat during the week ended July 28, though orders continue to come in steadily, according to the Plastics Exchange market update.

Both PE and PP prices increased by about a cent across all grades as the market resisted any significant price increases. 

Furthermore, market players are eyeing tight inventories as a potential sign that the destocking trend is nearing its end.

July PE contracts have mostly been agreed at a decrease of US$0.03/lb, which would bring them back to levels seen at the start of 2023.

PP inventories have also reached lower levels recently as processors avoid expensive carrying costs.

However, PP contracts could achieve the margin-boosting US$0.03/lb increase that has been proposed for August.

The primary source of this information is The Plastics Exchange.

US Resins: H1 2023

US PE resin sales during H1 2023 fell 9.4% year-over-year, continuing a trend of sluggish demand, according to 

In contrast, export transactions showed solid performance, making up 42.8% of total sales in the first half of 2023.

Domestic PP resin sales fell 7% year-over-year, but by June reached a 12-month high. June’s rebound could reflect growth in demand, or could be a result of buyers replenishing their inventories.

June also saw narrow PP margins, adding to producers’ incentive to keep average operating rates in the low 70 percent during H1.

The primary source of this information is Plastics Today.


Europe Petrochemicals

Borealis CEO Thomas Gangl doesn’t foresee an end to Europe’s high energy prices in the near term, leaving petrochemical manufacturers to cope with shrinking margins, the CEO said in a July 31 interview.

In general, petrochemical producers do not see Europe as a growth market, he said. 

Adding to manufacturers’ uncertainty, he said, was Belgium’s decision to rescind Ineos’ permits for its Antwerp Project One cracker facility.

Referencing the company’s recent financial results, Gangl noted that the 5% year-over-year decrease in European PE and PP sales volumes were related to the cost-of-living crisis.

Headed into the second half of the year, the CEO expects the polymer market challenges to continue with steam cracker operating rates staying about the same.

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

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Dan Rivard
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