About: At room temperature, Caustic Soda is known to be a white crystalline odourless solid that is synthetically manufactured. It is an inorganic compound with the ability to absorb moisture and carbon dioxide from the air. When miscible in water or neutralised with acid, it liberates substantial heat, that may be ample to ignite combustible materials. As Caustic Soda is corrosive in nature, It is generally utilised as a solid or a 50% solution.
Get the latest insights on price movement and trend analysis of Caustic Soda in different regions across the world (Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa).
Caustic soda prices remained consolidated in Asia. Due to significant production and limited demand from the downstream sectors, the market dynamics remained stable.
Prices averaged between 1259.6 RMB/MT in May 2022 to 1208.1 RMB/MT in June 2022. The price of 32% liquid caustic soda oscillated between 1280-1450 RMB/MT in the domestic market.
The European industrial sector is struggling because of the continuing political and economic turbulence. Hence, the prices for various commodities are reaching record-breaking highs.
In this quarter, the caustic soda price trends reached new peaks due to the uncertainty in the market amidst supply chain disruptions and the massive demand from the downstream industries. The paper mills struggled to keep their margin as the chemical’s price exploded compared to the previous year.
Due to the outages in the United States in the previous quarter, the producers are still struggling to restore the depleted inventories. The cost remained strong with limited supply and rising demand for chlorine products and caustic soda. Prices in the US market averaged 810 USD/MT FOB United States Gulf.
For the First Quarter of 2022
The downstream demand in China was more positive than it had been previously, owing mostly to the maintenance of the main caustic soda plant and the reduction of inventories. In February, the price of caustic soda increased initially and then decreased at the end of the month. At the beginning of the month, average caustic soda prices in Shandong was 917.5 RMB/MT which had increased to approximately 1,087.5 RMB/MT at the end of the month, an increase of 18.53%.
In US, the caustic soda market witnessed an upward trend in the first quarter of 2022 as a result of concerns over supply shortages as several plants were scheduled for turnarounds. Caustic soda supplies from China and US went down which caused global shortages for the commodity in January 2022. Two major plants of capacities 550 MTPA and 3 million MTPA were shut down in Alabama and Texas respectively which also affected the caustic soda supplies. Caustic soda prices (flakes) were up by 10% in the US in January 2022 as buyers continued to stock amid fears of limited supply in future with the upcoming Lunar holidays.
For the Fourth Quarter of 2021
In China, caustic soda prices (liquid 32%) were 850 RMB/MT in Dec 2021, a drop from the previous November 2021 figure of 960 RMB/MT, with the average being 700 RMB/MT from January 2021 to December 2021. The statistics peaked at 1,540 RMB/MT in October 2021 and peaked at 460 RMB/MT in May 2021.
The prices in Asia demonstrated conflicting sentiments in Q4 2021, as demand differed region wise. Due to the supply interruption caused by storm Ida, India saw a surge in export demand for the commodity from the United States. Export demand from China also grew in early Q4 for the same reason, although the impact on its pricing was modest due to abundant production. In December, average caustic soda prices in India was 650 USD/MT Ex-JNPT, while prices in China were range-bound between 210 and 206 USD/MT FOB Qingdao during the final quarter.
In Europe, the prognosis for the chemical’s market remained mixed during Q4 following a series of turnarounds owing to the region's harsh weather conditions. Vinnolit announced a state of force majeure at its German factories due to weather and logistical problems. With the restoration of operations in late November, the supply improved marginally, resulting in a stabilization of the price trajectory. In December, the average price of caustic soda lye in Germany was 540 USD/MT.
Caustic Soda prices (liquid 50%) in the United States reached 550 USD/MT FOB Texas in November before progressively declining to USD 510 per MT in December. The market sentiments were mixed throughout Q4 in North America. Hurricane Ida's supply interruption continued to impact availability in the United States, despite strong demand from the alumina, pulp & paper, and detergent industries. By late December, supply in the United States had stabilized as a result of Vinnolit's lifting of force majeure on its factory.
Due to a shortage of chlor alkali products in South America, prices for caustic soda and chlorine increased in nations such as Argentina, Brazil, and Columbia. Chlorine prices increased by nearly 20% in South America during the last month. As the availability of the chemical increased in other regions, the price of foreign offers decreased. Latin American purchasers had a variety of alternatives ranging from 180 to 250 USD/DMT (dry metric tonne) FOB main port, depending on volume. With the majority of demand satisfied by imports from North America, the crisis was precipitated by the supply bottleneck in the United States.
For First, Second and Third quarters of 2021
Since the start of Q2, the price trend in India had been a steady fall of 13.64% till the second week of June. In India, ex-works caustic soda prices closed at 442 USD/MT. Whereas supplies remained balanced in the first quarter of 2021, as several Asian manufacturers scheduled maintenance turnarounds, the situation appeared to balance out when a significant producer restarted its facility in late January.
The supply in the Asia Pacific area was sufficient to meet robust market demand during the second quarter of 2021, as production rates increased in the Chinese domestic market. On the other hand, industrial and commercial activity was hampered in India due to the country being disproportionately affected by the second COVID wave.
Throughout the third quarter of 2021, the supply in the Asia Pacific area was stable. Increased freight costs and restricted feedstock supply in China resulted in an increase in the prices across the region. In India, the suspension of imports of caustic soda for a quality check according to the government of India's quality standard resulted in a sharp increase in its price. Caustic Soda prices increased from 456 USD/MT to 513 USD/MT in Q3 2021.
The supply fell significantly in the first quarter of 2021, as the market reached an all-time low. In early March, the average price in Northwest Europe was less than 180 USD/MT FOB. However, demand increased when the majority of the product’s supply was shifted to PVC manufacturing. Overall demand, however, remained constant, as the economy continued to struggle to completely recover from the pandemic's consequences in 2021. In the European market, FOB Hamburg caustic soda prices fluctuated between 465 and 450 USD/MT in early October. Prices eased slightly by 15 USD/MT but did not go below the specified levels as manufacturers feared dwindling profit margins.
The majority of the demand came from the water treatment and alumina production industries, with the FOB Texas price debate in June settling at 320 USD/MT. The operations of the chlor-alkali sector were seen recovering following a setback caused by polar winter storm Uri in the US gulf coast area, which knocked off three-quarters of the region's chlor-alkali output. The operating rates rose to 70% in the North American area in the first half of the quarter, boosting regional supply proportionately, but the demand picture improved in the second half as downstream operations started up.
Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana in the third quarter of 2021, resulting in the shutdown of multiple plants along the Gulf Coast of the United States. The factory closures had a detrimental effect on the region's material supply in Q3. The pricing was last established in the last week of September at 470 USD/MT FOB Texas.
For the Year 2020
The Asian market recovered, in Q3 2020 after chlor-alkali rates increased on the back of increasing chlorine demand for making PVC. Affected by the outbreak, downstream demand showed no discernible improvement. The market was projected to remain poor in the immediate term. China market prices improved somewhat since April. Middle Eastern manufacturers also increased their prices slightly. Iranian producers supplied caustic soda flakes at a consistent price of 280-290 USD/MT. In the first week of June 2020, China's caustic soda prices (liquid) were 502.50 CNY/MT. Alumina production rates which remained stable at 75% in Q2 showed minor improvement with comeback in industrial activities. Production rates in other downstream sectors such as pulp and paper, textile printing, dyeing and chemical industries also returned to normal.
The European market witnessed an increase in prices. European manufacturers announced price increases of 30-40 EUR/MT ($32-$43/MT) over Q1 contract prices, with anticipation of even bigger increases as supply remained under pressure as the expanding effect of the coronavirus epidemic weighed on chlorine demand.
Throughout the first quarter of 2021, the supplies were affected when freezing weather struck the US Gulf Coast, forcing the suspension of several large chlor-alkali operations in Texas for several weeks. The closure of multiple operations had little effect on the region's product’s pricing, which were estimated at roughly 280 USD/MT FOB Texas. Throughout the quarter, increased consumption from downstream industries fueled demand in the regional market.
In the third quarter, chlor-alkali market outlook remained constrained owing to wounded sentiments in the United States as key chlor-alkali producers remained shut throughout the quarter after significant areas of the US were put on notice due to Hurricane Laura. Scheduled maintenance turnarounds further worsened the supply chain concerns.
The export prices in Peru decreased during January from a value of around 350 USD/DMT (dry metric tonne) to 300 USD/DMT post which prices began to rise during the first two quarters reaching a value close to 450 USD/DMT. Caustic soda prices remained stable for the next quarter except for the month of July during which they greatly declined ($330/DMT). Pricing has been drifting downward in Chile as a result of the effect of cheaper offshore bids, with the majority of prices for mid-size purchasers at 250 USD/DMT FOB main port.
Brazil's imports increased by 17% year on year to 2.7 million tonnes, or by 11% year on year to $507 million in value terms. The United States, followed by Peru and China, continued to be Brazil's primary source of the product, accounting for 91 percent of import volume. Physical purchases from the United States and China increased significantly last year, while imports from Peru fell by 12% year on year. The average import price of decreased by 5.3% year on year to 185 USD/MT in 2020.
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Chemical Formula of Caustic Soda:
To produce Caustic Soda from lime soda process, a weak liquor through a filter and soda ash are collected in the dissolving tank where they are converted into an intermediate milk of lime in the presence of hot water, cauticisers and thickeners. This results in the formation of dilute Caustic Soda, which is further filtered.
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