Prices in the $3-trillion-plus global petrochemicals market fell another 1% in April to $1,363 per metric ton (/mt), down just $8/mt from March, according to the monthly Platts Global Petrochemical Index (PGPI), released May 16 on the sidelines of the Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference in Pattaya, Thailand.
The slight decline in PGPI was attributed in part to falling prices in the global ethylene market, which saw prices fall 3% to $1,254/mt.
Paraxylene prices also were lower, falling 2% to $1,155/mt.
The other five components in the PGPI were relatively stable, either climbing or falling by 1% or less. The slight drop in petrochemical prices, was opposite of the primary raw inputs for petrochemicals – crude oil and naphtha. The global naphtha index was up 2% in April, while crude prices climbed less than 1%.
Prices of olefins – a group of hydrocarbon compounds which are the building blocks to many petrochemicals – were lower in April. Ethylene inventories grew during the first quarter of 2014, which put downward pressure on prices and accounted for the largest price drop in April of all the PGPI seven components. In the U.S., ethylene inventories were at a 12-year high, according to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers Association. Polyethylene, a polymer produced from ethylene, was priced slightly higher in April despite lower ethylene prices. The price edged up 1% to $1,639/mt in April, up from $1,622/mt in March.
Global propylene prices averaged $1,396 per metric ton (/mt) in April, down $10/mt (1%) from the March average of $1,406/mt. Polypropylene, the polymer produced from propylene, was up 1% at $1,639/mt in April, compared to $1,622/mt in March.
Prices of aromatics – a group of scented hydrocarbons with benzene rings used to make a variety of petrochemicals – were mixed but mostly lower in April. Paraxylene posted the largest decline, falling 2% to $1,155/mt, down from the March average of $1,173/mt. Toluene prices fell $1 in April to $1,072/mt. Benzene was the only aromatic to post gains in April, climbing $11/mt to $1,364/mt.