Styrene Oversupply Persists in Europe Despite Plant Shutdowns28 Sep 2010 • by Natalie Aster
Styrene oversupply persists in Europe despite the recent shutdowns at BASF and Polimeri. European styrene monomer supplies are so ample that shutdown of BASF's 550,000 tpa Ludwigshafen unit and its 500,000 tpa Antwerp unit shut since September, and Polimeri’s 600,000 tpa Mantova, Italy, have failed to tighten supplies. As per Platts, spot prices remained stuck within the US$1080-$1110/MT range. Although Europe is no longer the highest priced region, the volume of regular imports in Q2 and Q3 means that the region is struggling to balance supplies despite strong demand.
European propylene oxide plants are running at full rates due to strong demand for anti-freeze, polyurethane and insulation, as well as from the automobile industry. This was indirectly adding more styrene supply than was needed. POSM units simultaneously produce propylene oxide and styrene monomer. POSM units are running hard so there is enough material around. EBSM producers would have to cut rates and buy in the spot market. Ethyl-benzene producers have the option of adjusting production rates to offset European oversupply. To compensate, buying spot parcels for October loading was considered favorable for producers, from a quarterly accounting perspective.