The propylene markets moved into the spotlight Thursday as refinery grade traded in familiar territory and the seldom-traded polymer grade transacted several times. Ethylene was quiet while NGLs and energies were mixed. Resin trade remained slow but prices for some grades were ticking up.
Spot PGP transacted twice today, at 26.1 cpp for March and 25.5 cpp for April, both pipeline delivery. April PGP also traded yesterday at 25.5 cpp. March rail-delivered PGP was bid today at 26 cpp against no offers. April spot RGP traded at 19.5 cpp and 20 cpp. Spot RGP was bid today at 19.5 cpp for March and 20.25 cpp for April, both against no offers. Spot RGP last traded Wednesday on a barge-delivered basis, at 19.5 cpp and 20.25 cpp. No spot chemical grade propylene markets were heard talked or traded.
No new ethylene deals were confirmed today, a slow follow-up to the heavy volume seen trading yesterday. Ethylene closed with March bid at 23.5 cpp against no offers and April bid at 23.5 cpp (Wms system) and 24 cpp (Eq system) against an offer at 26.5 cpp (Eq system). Ethylene was again actively bid and offered out through the end of 2009 on ethane-based formulas.
No news was heard today concerning the status of Gulf area steam crackers. Five crackers and one processing unit remain shut, with restart dates unknown for most. MarkWest’s Javelina unit is scheduled to restart March 31 and Shell’s GO-1 unit is expected to restart during the second half of April. A complete list of the remaining outages is attached as a separate PDF.
NGLs and energies were mixed. May crude futures gained $1.58/bbl to settle at $54.34/bbl while April nat gas fell 38 cents to close at $3.947/mmBtu. Ethane eased a penny to close at 33 cpg and propane was down 0.5 cpg at 70.75 cpg. Butane, however, was up 3.25 cpg to close at 91.5 cpg and iso gained more than 5 cpg to 106.5 cpg. Natural gasoline was up 4.75 cpg to close at 111.75 cpg. Benzene was up substantially, with April closing at 167-169 cpg DDP and 168-170 cpg FOB and May at 170-173 cpg DDP and 170-175 cpg FOB.
Spot resin activity remained subdued, but the growing absence in the marketplace was that of sellers, traders reported. Many inquiries continued for small volumes of prompt material, but the recent opening of the arb to Asia has cleaned up the supply overhang and offers were scarce. The recent uptick in spot monomer prices has also given sellers pause before lowering offers for March or April. Still, no one was heard building inventories as talk continued that overall demand was poor and that both an upstream rally and an export arb could be short-lived.