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Market Monitor | May 2016

Ample supply may soften PE, PP prices in Q3

Asia’s polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) prices may fall in the third quarter amid supply-demand imbalance, according to ICIS, which quotes industry sources. The third-quarter market outlook was a hot topic among buyers and sellers gathered in Shanghai for Chinaplas – a four-day annual exhibition for the plastics and rubber industries that kicked off on April 25.

Regional PE and PP resins prices had been on an uptrend from early March to mid-April because of tight supply amid turnarounds at some Middle East and Asian facilities. Prices started to decline in mid-April but may see some rebound in May, once competitively priced cargoes are depleted. But weak demand will ultimately weigh on the markets in June, with prices expected to stay soft into the third quarter amid ample supply, industry sources said.

Market players expect improved supply following the completion of turnarounds at various facilities in Asia and the Middle in the second quarter, as well as the scheduled start-ups new PE and PP plants will lengthen supply in Asia in the third quarter. (Please see table for new capacities in India)

Demand, on the other hand, is expected to be capped during the summer months of July and August. In China, some downstream application sectors such as household appliances and agriculture films, are expected to cut operation rates in summer, a traditional off-season.

China’s demand in the first half of the year was partly supported by home furnishing applications, but consumption from this sector is likely to weaken in the second half as an offshoot of new government policies aimed at controlling residential property prices in first tier cities in the country, a Chinese industry source said in Mandarin.

The new policies are expected to slow sales in the property sector, hence cap the demand for polyolefins. In the southeast Asian markets of Malaysia and Indonesia, demand is expected to be slow in in the run-up to the Eid-ul Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Some convertors in these markets said they may stock up ahead of Ramadan, which begins early June. Restocking is expected to slow down in Thailand & Vietnam in the third quarter, when the monsoon season kicks in, local market sources said.

Moreover, demand in India and the Middle East typically slows down in the summer months, according to market sources.

Major Polyethylene (PE) expansion in India in 2016

OPal

3,40,000 tonne

2016 Q3

OPal

3,60,000 x 2 tonne

2016 Q3

Brahmaputra Cracker & Polymers Ltd (BCPL)

2,20,000 tonne

2016

Reliance

4,00,000 tonne

End-2016

Reliance

6,00,000 tonne

End-2016

GAIL

4,50,000 tonne

April-2016


Polypropylene (PP) expansion in India in 2016

BCPL

60,000 tonne

2016

OPal

340,000 tonne

2016


Note: Plants that started up in end-2015 are expected to ramp up operations in 2016
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