About: Ethylene Oxide, an organic compound, is a cyclic ether and the simplest epoxide. It is a colourless gas with ether-like odour. It is a versatile compound that is used as an intermediate in the manufacture of other chemicals of industrial importance. One of the most important derivatives of this chemical is ethylene glycol, which is further utilised in the production of PET resin. A small but significant use of the chemical is as a sterilizing agent particularly in the healthcare industry.
Get the latest insights on price movement and trend analysis of Ethylene Oxide in different regions across the world (Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa).
During the said quarter, the overall market for the chemical remained stagnant. Due to the volatile nature of global crude oil prices, the Asian petrochemicals industry suffered. The primary feedstock ethylene’s price weakened in the said quarter, averaging 1166-1176 USD/MT CFR Northeast Asia.
The high input costs and the muted market demand affected the prices of the chemical. Also, due to the below optimum polyester and plastic demand in the Chinese market, all ethylene oxide derivatives like ethylene glycol prices suffered. Per ton price of ethylene oxide averaged 7350 RMB in the Chinese domestic arena.
Due to the continuing Russian geopolitical stance, Europe is witnessing a record-breaking rise in commodity prices and energy crises. The runaway inflation coupled with rising interest rates globally has triggered the market fear of recession. The prices of feedstock ethylene weakened during the said quarter. Still, the price trends of ethylene glycol stood firm in the European domestic market because of the strong demand from the downstream polymer and polyester industries.
The price trends of ethylene oxide continuously witnessed fluctuations in the US domestic arena during this quarter. Initially, the prices remained strong due to the tight supply and steady market demand. However, the upstream industries' inability to keep up with the explosive demands from the downstream sectors caused the prices to fall as the market equilibrium distorted due to the supply-demand mismatch paradox.
The spot price of ethylene oxide in March 2022 was 8200 RMB/MT in the domestic markets of China. The ethylene market has been quite turbulent lately owing to the widespread demand, and the rising prices of international crude oil futures. The breakdown of the Caspian oil pipeline between Russia and Kazakhstan through OPC also heightened fears of short-term supply tensions.
All through the fourth quarter of 2021, the ethylene oxide sector in Asia Pacific had conflicting sentiments. Due to coal shortages, China began to feel the effects of the energy crisis, and power rationing hampered operational rates at a number of crackers across the country. Furthermore, the resurrection of COVID, as well as harsher Chinese government standards, exacerbated the Asia Pacific freight crisis, with freight costs above 20000 USD/40ft container, affecting arbitrage from the foreign market. As a result of the ripple effect, bids in the Chinese domestic market crested at historic highs during the last week of October, with the Ex-Shanghai discourse for technical quality soaring to 1530 USD/MT. However, the Chinese government's continued efforts to reduce power rationing lowered inflation in the domestic market, and producer quotations dropped by 22.5% by the end of the quarter.
The European market for the chemical remained stabilized in the 4th quarter of 2021, owing to the prolonged energy crisis in the home market, which weighed on production capacity proportionally due to rising energy costs. Due to low natural gas stocks, several market participants predicted that the present trend would continue until the middle of the next quarter. Furthermore, the large drop in the arbitrage from Europe was aided by congestion, restricted access to freight vessels, and expensive rates for Asia Pacific delivery. Ethylene oxide prices in the European domestic market remained buoyant as a result, and the FD Hamburg discourse was concluded at 1795 USD/MT during the quarter ending.
After the operating rates in the United States began to improve post-hurricane season, the North American ethylene oxide industry began to stabilise in the fourth quarter of 2021. Furthermore, the dramatic drop in the gap from the US was aided by congestion, restricted supply of freight vessels, and expensive rates for Asia Pacific delivery. Furthermore, throughout the fourth quarter, cost support from upstream ethylene plummeted dramatically. The offered bids fell proportionally as a result, and the FOB Gulf coast spot discourse was decided at 1510 USD/MT towards the conclusion of the quarter.
Braskem, a petrochemical company, said its fourth-quarter resins sales volume in Brazil declined 13% year over year, owing to lower demand in the Brazilian market. Braskem's ethylene plants in Brazil had an average utilization rate of 85% in the third quarter, which was unchanged from the previous year but 5 percentage points higher than the third quarter. According to the company's operating forecast, ethylene production volume remained steady on a yearly basis. Mexico's polyethylene production increased by 71% from the fourth quarter of 2020, with the country's plant utilization rate improving by 34 percentage points, to 8%. The increase was due to the suspension of operating processes in December 2020 due to a natural gas transit disruption. The increase in ethylene production led to an easy availability of feedstock for ethylene oxide production.
The output in Asia remained low due to plant outages and a lack of feed ethylene throughout the region. Demand in China fell over the Chinese holidays, but it quickly rebounded, putting downward pressure on supply in the local market. Plant failures in the United States caused a global shortage of most chemicals, while demand in the Asian market remained strong, resulting in higher prices for feedstock ethylene and downstream MEG. In India, the bulk price of the chemical rose by 34.5% since January, settling at 1261.3 USD/MT at the end of March.
During the second quarter, ethylene oxide prices fell significantly in the Asian market, owing to increasing stock availability and lower demand from downstream firms. Meanwhile, the price of ethylene fluctuated due to the regular price changes in crude oil prices. The quick recurrence of the epidemic in India lowered demand from downstream sectors, despite ample supply availability. However, the price of ethylene remained volatile in India, impacting the price of ethylene oxide in the country. As a result, prices in India were recorded around 1214 USD/MT in the last week of June.
During the third quarter, the Asian market displayed conflicting attitudes. The Chinese market saw an increase in the pricing, accompanied by supply chain disruptions caused by congestion at many Chinese ports. Furthermore, a reduction in production rates, following China's energy crisis, wreaked havoc on ethylene oxide prices in this timeframe. In India, prices rose somewhat from July to August, owing to stable feedstock costs and strong demand from downstream MEG goods. The prices, on the other hand, fell in September. As a result, the total market for the chemical remained stable in this quarter, as domestic leagues sold the bulk of the produce to domestic consumers at a predetermined pricing. Per ton price in India rose to 1350 USD in August from 1302 USD in July, and then fell to 1297.04 USD in September.
Despite the US gulf storm and strong export demand to Asia, European demand for the chemical remained strong throughout the quarter. Due to a lack of feedstock across the region, ethylene oxide prices remained erratic. Ethylene demand remained high from segments such as PVC, forcing producers to raise prices.
Due to production interruptions at some upstream ethylene plants, ethylene oxide supply became tighter. The unexpected three-week-long force majeure at LG Chemical's Yeosu cracker owing to a fire outbreak at the company's central control unit continued to impact upstream supply. During the quarter, unexpected plant turnarounds resulted in a loss of around 400 KT of ethylene production. Due to strong demand for glycols and limited product supplies, the price skewed toward the Asian region. For the majority of the month, the Indian market remained relatively unaltered from the previous quarter, with market fundamentals being balanced. In India, the price increased slightly in Q4 2020, but remained stable at 1078.
USD/MT. Firmer raw material costs and rising demand from downstream MEG producers fueled the upward trend.
During the third quarter, ethylene oxide prices in Europe rose marginally, owing to strong demand from downstream glycols and ethoxylates, as well as a rise in the price of ethylene. Furthermore, the increase in the price of ethylene oxide and its derivatives in Europe was caused by high freight costs and reduced imports due to container scarcity. Manufacturers obtained promising profit margins, which were followed by robust demand from downstream sectors. FD Hamburg price settled at 1790 USD/MT, an increase of 160 USD/MT.
Owing to strong demand fundamentals and damaged production capacity due to severe winter storms in North America, ethylene oxide prices rose steadily on a daily basis. Climate disaster triggered the closure of several sizable ethylene factories. The average price witnessed a dramatic jump of 48.9%, which settled at 1605 USD/MT in March, due to strong demand from Asian countries combined with limited inventory levels across the area.
Several firms reopened their plants in the second quarter after a long hiatus, boosting the country's supply of feedstock chemicals. As a result, ethylene oxide prices in the United States fluctuated from month to month in the second quarter of 2021. Demand remained strong on the domestic and global markets, particularly in Europe, where there was an acute shortage. In May, prices dropped dramatically as a result of greater supply of ethylene following the restoration of refinery operations in the United States. As a result, during May in the United States, ethylene glycol prices reached 1210 USD/MT.
Demand for the chemical and its downstream derivatives remained strong throughout the third quarter, contributing to an increase in the price. Furthermore, as a result of the Ida hurricane in August, numerous firms were forced to close down their production plants, adding to the strain on the chemical’s market. FOB-US ethylene oxide prices were estimated at 1620 USD/MT in September, up 180 USD/MT from July, owing to lower production rates and increased demand in the region.
Ultrapar sold Oxiteno, the only South American producer of ethylene oxide and derivatives, for USD 1.3 billion in August to Indorama Ventures of Thailand. Oxiteno was the only South American manufacturer of ethylene oxide and monoethylene glycol, a critical PET resin intermediate. Oxiteno has sites in Brazil, Latin America, and the United States. Oxiteno sold 372,000t of products in the first half, comprising commodities and specialty. It was up 7% from the early half of 2020, with domestic sales up 10%, primarily to the agrochemicals, paints, and varnish industries. In the first half of 2021, exports to the United States accounted for a 1% increase in total exports.
Due to production interruptions at some upstream ethylene facilities, the supply of ethylene oxide tightened. The unexpected three-week-long force majeure at LG Chemical's Yeosu cracker owing to a fire outbreak at the company's central control unit continued to impact upstream supply. During the quarter, unexpected plant turnarounds resulted in ethylene output losses of roughly 400 KT. Due to strong demand for glycols and constrained product availability, the price in Asia has risen. For the majority of the month, the Indian industry remained relatively unaltered from the previous quarter, with market fundamentals being balanced. In Q4 2020, the price in India increased slightly, maintaining an average of 1078 USD/MT. Driving the trajectory were the firm feedstock costs and increasing demand from the downstream MEG producers.
The chemical’s supplies tightened in the fourth quarter due to a shortage of ethylene, whose inventories were low, limiting product availability to various downstream manufacturing units. The closure of the Borealis Ethylene Cracker in Stenungsund (Sweden) in December aggravated market shortages. Upstream supply constraints and a rise in crude futures pushed the spot prices higher across Europe. Throughout the quarter, regional traders reported increased demand from the downstream detergents and medicinal industries.
The availability of upstream ethylene had been steadily declining in North America, with the majority of demand channeled to the downstream glycols sector. After hurricane-related disruptions in the United States, operating rates at upstream units were heard increasing. Formosa's new factory in Texas went online in early December, and the company ramped up production levels in Q1 FY21 due to anticipated pent-up demand. Due to strong demand for glycol ethers used in disinfectants and cleaning chemicals, the inventory levels in numerous downstream sectors decreased, although pricing remained elevated due to continuing transportation restrictions.
In October 2020, Brazilian ethylene prices increased significantly since the beginning of the year, reaching their highest levels since 2018.This rise in cost directly affected the price of all ethylene products and derivatives, including ethylene oxide prices.
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Procurement Resource provides prices of Ethylene Oxide for several regions around the globe, which are as follows:
In this process, ethylene is utilised as a starting material. It undergoes the oxidation process in the presence of silver catalyst to finally produce Ethylene Oxide.
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