The Week in Chemistry: US spot PE prices steady in first half of April, prime PP down US$0.01/lb; green methanol popularity grows as companies move to cut emissions, Chinese propane dehydrogenation operators boost production amid rising propylene margins

Sample article from our Chemicals Industry

LOS ANGELES , April 21, 2023 () –


US Resins

Spot resin trading in the U.S. was slow for the first half of April, keeping PE prices steady for the time being. 

Meanwhile, prime PP prices lost another US$0.01 per pound in response to falling polymer-grade propylene costs.

Also noteworthy: hurricane season, which starts on June 1, is currently expected to be mild with six hurricanes, including two major storms.

During Q1, PE producers achieved a total of $0.06 per pound in contract increases. Another $0.05 has been proposed for April, though industry players see it as unlikely.

In another positive turn, ACC statistics show HDPE and LDPE production trending upward, though not enough to significantly cushion inventories.

PP reactor rates also increased during March, reaching about 75% of capacity.

The primary source of this information is Plastics Today.

Green Methanol Production

Rising methanol production worldwide is projected to shift toward renewable methanol as companies work to reduce harmful emissions created during chemical production.

By 2050, production of biomethanol is expected to reach 135 million tonnes, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

In addition to its compatibility with the EU green deal, methanol is being embraced by major shipping companies, which could benefit from its affordability compared to LNG, industry players say.

Renewable methanol does come at a higher cost than conventional methanol, but evolving government policies across the globe could foster a friendly environment for the sustainable alternative. 

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

China Propylene

Chinese operators of propane dehydrogenation plants have been taking advantage of rising propylene margins to bring their operating rates up to 100%. 

The trend is following the overall petrochemicals market in the country, which stands to benefit from an improving economy.

Traders expect operators to continue at high rates as long as there are positive margins, recovering previous months’ losses from high propane prices.

In March, margins became positive for the first time since November 2022 at US$48.47 per tonne, according to JLC, a domestic information provider.

The nation’s 23 propane dehydrogenation plants have a total propylene capacity of about 13.67 million tonnes per year.

Projections show Chinese PDH plants will process about 12.277 million tonnes of propane this year. 

Propane prices have also eased slightly, averaging $585.46 per tonne between April 3-19, compared to an average of $735.08/tonne in February.

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


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