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NGLs Week

NGLs Week Newsletter  

PetroChem Wire and Genscape have partnered to create NGLs Week, a comprehensive summary of price trends, upstream and downstream costs, operations news and supply/demand forecasts. The report contains everything you'll need to understand what's happening in the NGL markets.

The weekly newsletter has NGL prices for Mt. Belvieu, Conway and Targa. It also includes raw NGL values, frac spreads, ethylene cash costs and natural gas ratios to ethylene, ethane and others.

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PetroChem Wire Publications

News Archive

(Click here to see current news)

November 30, 2015

NGL production falls 2.5% month-on-month in September: EIA data

Waste Management buys plastic scrap at 2 cpp in Florida bid sale

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude starts week on a down note; natgas rallies

Indorama acquires Indian PET maker with 216,00 MT/year capacity

December benzene contract prices settle globally with increases

US December propylene contracts nominated to increase

LyondellBasell acquiring Zylog PP assets, becomes 3rd largest PP producer in India

Shell moves forward with alpha olefins expansion at Geismar plant

November 27, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude, natgas, gasoline futures finishes week lower

November 25, 2015

Petchems stocks rise as markets thin out for Thanksgiving week: PCW index

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude posts mixed results; natgas inches higher

US scrap PET exports down 44% in September

Post EIA Wrap: Crude, products futures tumble on bearish EIA data

US nonfuel use propylene supplies have second biggest drop in past year

November 24, 2015

Braskem resumes production at Capuava petchems complex in Brazil

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude rallies strongly; natgas drops again

Gulf Coast propane prices show resilience against record inventories: Analysis

November 23, 2015

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude opens week with slight loss; natgas rallies

CP Chem’s Sweeny-22 begins restart process: TCEQ

November 20, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude finishes week a mixed bag; natgas touches fresh low

Shell’s Norco OL-5 olefins unit begins restart process

Petchem markets follow S&P, Dow higher as crude falters: PCW stock index

November 19, 2015

CP Chem’s Sweeny-22 goes down on unplanned outage

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude continues to post losses; natgas stumbles

LyondellBasell to build PO/TBA plant in Channelview

November 18, 2015

Shell expected to restart Moerdijk cracker by mid-December

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude up slightly, Brent/WTI spread widens

FHR applies for LNG export permits

Post EIA Report: Rising inventories fail to stem NYMEX futures gains

US nonfuel use propylene supplies little changed

November 17, 2015

Air Liquide buys Airgas for $13.4 billion

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude, natgas, gasoline futures take tumble

US PET imports from Taiwan surge in September

BP selling Alabama PTA, PX complex

November 16, 2015

M&G "targeting" mid-2016 for big Texas PET plant start-up

Canadian LPG inventories fall nearly 7% in November (Includes Charts)

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude starts week with loss; natgas advances

US plastic scrap exports, a $952-mil business, down 19% in September

Enterprise’s expanded LPG export terminal now more than 90% subscribed

November 13, 2015

Benzene, styrene cargo movements slow on closed arbs, logistical constraints

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude closes week with loss; natgas rallies strongly

Veresen to build ethane storage facility in Saskatchewan for Bakken ethane

Weak day on Wall Street sends petchems market lower: PCW Index

November 12, 2015

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude drops more than $1/bbl; Gulf diffs weaken

Ineos Technologies licenses HDPE process to PTTGC's planned Ohio Cracker

Crude, refined products futures tumble on EIA crude inventory build

US nonfuel use propylene supplies decline

November 11, 2015

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude takes midweek fall; natgas also closes lower

Flint Hills’ Port Arthur olefins unit has ‘upset’: TCEQ filing

US November PGP contracts start to settle

November 10, 2015

Marathon to pay MarkWest shareholders another $400 million for acquisition

Analysis: Midstream, petchems firms provide updates on expansions, builds

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude posts small gains; gasoline future falter

November 9, 2015

Enterprise signs ethane export deal; Ship Channel terminal 90% contracted

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude starts week with slight declines; natgas drops

FHR's Houston PDH shuts for planned outage

Ineos to supply US ethane to Exxon-Shell ethylene plant in Scotland

DuPont names Edward Breen as CEO, making interim position permanent

Huntsman’s Port Neches ethylene, ethylene oxide shut down after ‘upset’: TCEQ

November 6, 2015

Ineos Nitriles to bring up idled Green Lake ACN capacity

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude closes week with losses; natgas, gasoline gain

US PET Imports from Canada Down 52% in September

Benzene, styrene cargo movements this week slow as arbs narrow, close

Petchems stocks enter November higher: PCW Index

November 5, 2015

Energy Transfer accelerating startup of Lone Star frac III to mid-December

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude continues plunge; natgas sees sharp gains

Mariner East ethane service to begin start-up end November; PDH on hold

November 4, 2015

MarkWest reports 43% in 3Q net income; gas processing projects delayed

Analysis: Spot ethane prices fairly resilient as natural gas crumbles

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude gives up prior gains, Brent falls below $50

Crude, refined products futures prices drop on EIA crude build report

US nonfuel use propylene supplies plunge 10%

November 3, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude sees rally; cash gasoline spreads gain

Axiall reports $769 million net loss for 3Q on lower chem prices

UPDATE: Westlake income up 9% on tax rates, Petro-1 expansion online in 2Q

November 2, 2015

Benzene contracts for November settle higher as crude prices improve

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude has slight loss; gasoline diffs rise

October US ethylene contract begins settling

Wrap: Petchem Plant issues abound over weekend; Rain adds to woes

Flint Hills’ Port Arthur ethylene plant has ‘process upset’ over weekend: TCEQ

AltaGas proceeds with proposed propane export terminal in British Columbia

Boardwalk net up 35%; Evangeline pipe returned to full pressure in late August

Update: CP Chem begins restarting Cedar Bayou petchem units: TCEQ

October 30, 2015

NGL production marks another high in August: EIA data

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude closes week with slight gains; natgas rallies

Samsung sells chemical business to Lotte for $2.6 billion

CB&I wins early works contract for Lotte’s MEG plant in Lake Charles

Enterprise conducts open season on proposed Aegis ethane pipe expansion

P66 posts 64% jump in 3Q net income; chem earnings drop

Refinery sector follows crude, DJI, S&P 500 higher: PCW index

October 29, 2015

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude results mixed, natgas, gasoline resume decline

UPDATE: Occidental 3Q net tumbles 98%; Ingleside cracker online in early 2017

Enterprise net down 9% on lower prices; PDH plant to be commissioned in 4Q '16

UPDATE: Williams moves forward with Alberta PDH unit, bullish on second plant

Samsung Engineering awarded US MEG plant contract from Lotte

October 28, 2015

Williams’ 3Q net down to $40 million loss on NGL prices, increased spending

Williams moves forward with Alberta PDH unit, secures propylene buyer

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude rallies; natgas stumbles to fresh lows

Post EIA Update: NYMEX futures rise after data shows increased product demand

Occidental 3Q net income drops nearly 98%; chem earnings lone bright spot

US nonfuel use propylene supplies decline to lowest level since February

Technip awarded ethylene technology contract for PPTGC’s Ohio cracker

October 27, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude posts small losses; natgas rallies

DuPont’s 3Q net income down nearly 46%

Huntsman’s 3Q net income falls nearly 22%

UPDATE: Hunstman's Port Neches site shuts on power outage

October 26, 2015

P66 conducts FCC maintenance at Borger refinery: TCEQ filing

CP Chem’s Port Arthur ethylene unit sees brief upset: TCEQ filing

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude opens week mixed, natgas touches fresh lows

NGL, petchems Q3 earnings plagued by low crude, stock prices: Analysis

Remnants of Hurricane Patricia causing rail delays

October 23, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude ends week with mixed results; natgas, gasoline tumble

Houston firm plans $360 million methanol plant in Louisiana

UPDATE: LyondellBasell reports 11% decrease in 3Q net on crude, olefins drop

Midstream equities market follows crude price lower: PCW Index

October 22, 2015

Schulman to add new production line to Akron masterbatch plant

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Oil futures finish mixed, natural gas lower

Dow’s 3Q earnings up 49%; sees PDH start-up in 4Q and LA-3 cracker in 1Q

October 21, 2015

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Oil drops more than $1/bbl

US nonfuel use propylene supplies increase

October 20, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap--Crude extends losses; natgas, gasoline rally

New PDH capacity to ease propane supply overhang: Analysis

October 19, 2015

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude, gasoline futures open week on a down note

Badlands NGL announces plans for second polyethylene facility

Sunken barge slows ship traffic in Houston Ship Channel

October 16, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude finishes week with slight gain; natgas stumbles again

UPDATE: October US propylene contracts fully settle

Falling price of crude takes petchems market lower: PCW Index

October 15, 2015

Fire halts production at Braskem’s Capuava facility in Brazil

October PGP contracts start to settle

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude continues slight losses; natgas crumbles

Propane/propylene supplies post larger-than-expected build; prices tumble

Futures prices tumble after EIA shows crude inventory build, lower product demand

US nonfuel use propylene supplies decline for second week

October 14, 2015

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude settles slightly down; natgas rallies

Enterprise restarting propane/propylene splitter after maintenance: TCEQ

October 13, 2015

US plastic scrap exports to China down 42% in August, PET down 55%

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude extends losses; natgas, gasoline diffs also tumble

Canadian LPG inventories rise 2.3% month-on-month in October: NEB data

US ethylene hits fresh low, despite supply curtailments: Analysis

October 12, 2015

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude plunges $2; RBOB is off more than 7 cents

October 9, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude rises 20 cents, spread to Brent narrows

US rules PET imports from China, Canada, India, Oman were dumped

US Stocks move higher, in line with crude: PCW Index

October 8, 2015

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude rises above $49, natural gas also climbs

October 7, 2015

US August PET imports drop 18.5%; imports from China down 73.7%

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude drops, Brent/WTI spread widens

Equistar declares force majeure on PP

Intertape South Carolina plants down on rains, floods

Expansion is goal for LDPE end-user Wisconsin Film & Bag: Novolex

Inventory Report Wrap: NYMEX futures mixed after gain in crude oil supplies

US nonfuel use propylene supplies decline for first time in four weeks

October 6, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude, gasoline futures settle up strongly

Indianapolis PS recycling plant still on hold after legal victory

October 5, 2015

DuPont chairman and CEO to retire; company expects lower earnings

Shell’s Norco OP-5 ethylene unit offline for 50-day maintenance

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude, gasoline futures start week with gains; natgas falls

M&G: Texas PET plant will start up in Q2 2016

Lone Star’s Fractionator II to undergo 5-day maintenance: TCEQ

October 2, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude, natgas futures end week stronger; gasoline tumbles

Vinyls sector’s stock sees biggest fall with Axiall’s aromatics sale: PCW Index

October 1, 2015

September ethylene settles down 1 cpp at 28.5 cpp

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude, natgas futures finish lower

Berry Plastics completes purchase of nonwovens manufacturer

Ineos buys Axiall’s aromatics division, Pasadena cumene plant

September 30, 2015

NGL production hits record high in July: EIA data

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude, natgas drop as ICE Brent gains

NYMEX futures post mixed results as EIA reports crude supply build

US nonfuel use propylene supplies rise for third week

September 29, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude, gasoline rallies; natgas extends losses

US olefins landscape shifts with Indorama, Total, Appalachian plans: Analysis

September 28, 2015

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude, natgas, gasoline start week on weak note

Enterprise begins maintenance at Mont Belvieu splitter: TCEQ

Energy Transfer acquires Williams for $37.7 billion

September 25, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude ends week slightly higher; natgas falters

Petrochem stocks follow overall market lower: PCW Index

September 24, 2015

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude sees minimal gains; gasoline finishes lower

Indorama Ventures to restart dormant Lake Charles ethylene plant

CP Chem’s Sweeny 22 begins restart activities: TCEQ

September 23, 2015

Badlands NGLs secures ethane supplies for PE facility from Continental

CB&I awarded contract for Total’s proposed Port Arthur cracker

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude, gasoline finish lower; natgas gains

EIA reports unexpected draw in US propane/propylene stocks

WTI, gasoline, diesel rise on drop in crude stocks, increased product demand

US nonfuel use propylene inventories continue to gain

UPDATE: Chevron Phillips' Sweeny 22 olefins unit shuts on ‘furnace malfunction’

September 22, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude posts mixed results; natgas, gasoline gain

Chevron Phillips' Sweeny 22 olefins unit shuts

Narrower Conway-Mt Belvieu propane spread stifles southward pipe flows

September 21, 2015

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude futures begin week with gains; natgas slides

FHR's Houston PDH unit returns to normal

Ineos’ Chocolate Bayou crackers shut down on power loss: TCEQ

September 18, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude finishes week lower; natgas, gasoline also fall

Waste Management plastic recycling off 5-7% due to recent closures

Industry stocks fall despite major market indicators’ rise: PCW Stock Index

September 17, 2015

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude, natgas, gasoline futures tumble

Marathon’s FCC unit at Galveston Bay experiences outage: TCEQ

September propylene contracts fully settle at 3 cpp down from August

Enterprise schedules propane/propylene splitter maintenance: TCEQ

September 16, 2015

US PET imports from China down 73% in July

September propylene contracts initially settle 3 cpp down from August

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude finishes higher; natgas deepens losses

New York blow molder adding 12th Machine for PE, PP products

US nonfuel use propylene supplies increase

September 15, 2015

Kinder Morgan extends binding open season for NE-Gulf Coast NGL pipeline

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude futures move in mixed directions; natgas tumbles

Flint Hills Resources PDH at Houston shuts for brief repair

September 14, 2015

NYMEX Monday wrap: Crude, gasoline futures rise; natgas finishes higher

Dow begins pipeline clearing for maintenance at Freeport site: TCEQ

September 11, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude, gasoline close with a loss; natgas rises

Canadian propane inventories up 8.5% month-on-month in September: NEB

Aromatics/refinery sector posts increase amid down market: PCW Index

September 10, 2015

Sunoco Logistics begins binding open season for Mariner East 2 expansion

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude, gasoline, natgas futures rebound

Oil futures shrug off EIA build data, rise on lower production stats

US nonfuel use propylene supplies resume downward trend

JGC, Bechtel, Samsung Engineering doing FEED work on Ohio cracker

September 9, 2015

APR Launches Program Recognizing Innovations in Plastics Recycling

NYMEX Wednesday wrap: Crude, natgas, gasoline futures maintain losing streak

ANALYSIS: Could ethane cracker announcements reignite petchems renaissance?

September 8, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday wrap: Crude, gas, RBOB futures open shortened week with losses

US plastic scrap exports up 5% in July; China remains largest market

Enterprise tentatively schedules maintenance at Mont Belvieu splitter: TCEQ

September 4, 2015

NYMEX Friday wrap: Crude, natgas, gaoline futures close week with losses

Midstream stocks drop amid concern over slowing economy in China: PCW Index 

September 3, 2015

Formosa mulling $9.4 billion petchems complex in Louisiana

PTTGC to spend $100m on possible Ohio cracker, awards Fluor FEED contract

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude extends gains; Gulf cash gasoline spreads weaken

Equistar reports unit startup, flaring at La Porte cracker: TCEQ

Enterprise completes second segment of Aegis ethane pipeline

September 2, 2015

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude sees minimal gains; natgas, gasoline diffs weaker

Equistar reports unit outage, flaring at La Porte cracker: TCEQ

Oil, gasoline futures tumble on increase in US crude inventories

US nonfuel use propylene supplies increase for first time in five weeks

CB&I awarded contract for Axiall-Lotte Chemical ethane cracker

September 1, 2015

Aug ethylene contracts settle at 3.25 cpp drop; propylene nominated to decrease

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude, gasoline rally sputters; Gulf cash gasoline diffs mixed

ANALYSIS: Natural gasoline volatility points to Gulf Coast vulnerability

August 31, 2015

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude, gasoline futures extend gains; natgas sees softer settle

Propane remains most dominant NGL in overall barrel in June: EIA data

US September benzene contract settles down 79 cpg at 201 cpg

CB&I gets $300 million contract for Marcus Hook NGL expansion

August 28, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: Crude futures settle higher; natgas, gasoline also see gains

Industry stocks fall with S&P, Dow Jones even as crude rallies: PCW Index

August 27, 2015

Evangeline ethylene pipeline back at full pressure: Boardwalk

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude rises; Sept. natgas contract falters on expiration

August 26, 2015

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude drops; natgas, Gulf cash gasoline diffs stronger

NYMEX futures fall despite decline in crude supplies

US nonfuel use propylene supplies stabilize, remain 20 percent higher than year ago

August 25, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude, gas rally; RBOB, cash gasoline diffs extend losses

August 24, 2015

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Prompt futures tumble; October WTI settles below $40/bbl

ANALYSIS: Ethylene collapse narrows ethane, natural gasoline cash cost margins

August 21, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: WTI declines, Brent/WTI differential narrows

Spot ethylene rebound ends; prices slide back towards 23 cpp

Industry stocks tumble in line with crude, S&P 500: PCW Index

August 20, 2015

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Oil settles abovve $41; Natural gas climbs

US Gulf Coast gasoline differentials strengthen despite Texas City transformer fire

August 19, 2015

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude, RBOB futures sink; Gulf cash gasoline diffs mixed

Weekly chemical rail shipments fall more than 5%, lag year-ago levels: AAR

US chemical production up 0.3% month-on-month in July: ACC

WTI, RBOB crash on crude supply build as market eyes start of winter blending

ANALYSIS: Spot ethylene sustains rebound; was 22 cents the floor?

UPDATE: August propylene contract settle is marketwide

DuPont's Orange olefins unit unexpectedly shuts

US nonfuel use propylene inventories drop for third straight week

August 18, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: WTI, Brent move in opposite directions; gas, gasoline drop

August propylene contracts start to settle at 3.5 cpp decrease

PET imports from Canada up 12% in H1 2015 despite dumping charge

LyondellBasell sells Argentinian polypropylene subsidiary, plant for $145 million

August 17, 2015

US imposes countervailing duties on PET imports from China, India -- Corrected

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude, gas, gasoline futures kick off week on a down note

Dow begins maintenance on propane/propylene pipe at Freeport: TCEQ

August 14, 2015

ANALYSIS: Spot ethylene closes week at six-year low, down 34% this month alone

NYMEX Friday Wrap: WTI, Brent finish week mixed; gasoline tumbles

Canadian propane inventories rise 8.5% month-on-month in August: NEB data

Midstream stocks rebound, while; olefins, vinyls slide: PCW Index

August 13, 2015

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude, natural gas, RBOB futures all take tumbles

APR video helps grocery stores maximize recycling efforts

Flint Hills begins maintenance at Port Arthur olefins unit: TCEQ

August 12, 2015

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude, natgas, gasoline gain; gasoline spreads mixed

Chemical rail shipments increase from last week, year ago: AAR

NYMEX RBOB shoots up on bullish EIA gasoline inventory data

US nonfuel use propylene supplies decline for second week

August 11, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude, gasoline futures fall; natgas sees slight gain

Plastic bales burn at Fort Worth recycling plant fire

Bag makers drive robust demand for LDPE film scrap

August 10, 2015

US plastic scrap exports, a $952-million business, up 11.6 percent in June

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude, natural gas, gasoline futures begin week with gains

Enterprise conducting maintenance at West Terminal: TCEQ

Dow conducting equipment maintenance at TX-7 Freeport cracker: TCEQ

MarkWest doing maintenance at Javelina processing, fractionation facility: TCEQ

CP Chem restarting Sweeny 22 olefins unit: TCEQ

August 7, 2015

Oil, NGL price slump hits midstream stocks hard: PCW Index

August 6, 2015

Spot ethylene, PGP prices hit multi-year lows below 30 cpp

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude drops, Brent/WTI spread widens

August 5, 2015

Axiall looking at sale of building products segment; 2Q net income down 24%

Sunoco Logistics to expand Mariner East 2, conduct open season

US PET imports, an $824-million business, up 7.3% in first half of 2015

NYMEX Wrap: Crude, gas, gasoline futures fail to maintain upward momentum

Chemical rail shipments rose across North America last week: AAR

MarkWest, Marathon Petroleum mulling alkylate facility in Ohio

NYMEX gasoline futures rise after report shows decline in crude supplies

US nonfuel use propylene supplies drop 255,000 barrels

August 4, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude bounces back; RBOB, natural gas extend gains

Westlake Chemical’s 2Q income up 21% on Chinese PVC JV, Vinnolit sales

August 3, 2015

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Brent falls below $50; gas, gasoline differentials see gains

HDPE post-consumer natural repro prices up on strong August demand

Evangeline ethylene pipeline to return to full pressure in 3Q: Boardwalk

July ethylene contracts settle at 1 cpp drop from June

New Injection-molding plant in South Carolina to open by end-2015

August 1, 2015

CP Chem restarting Sweeny-22: TCEQ filing

AltaGas plans LPG export terminal in British Columbia

July 31, 2015

US propane production overtakes ethane again in May: EIA data

Friday NYMEX Wrap: Crude, gas head lower; Gulf cash gasoline diffs mixed

Houston extruder Brawler to increase LLDPE use with new nine

Isobutane premium over butane to stay near parity on glut: Analysis

Phillips 66’s fractionator, export projects on schedule

Stocks recover some of prior week’s steep losses: PCW Index

July 30, 2015

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude oil drops; NYMEX RBOB climbs

LyondellBasell to raise propane cracking in Q3; Channelview expansion in service

Williams lower guidance due to ethylene plant restart, weak NGL margins

July 29, 2015

US nonfuel use propylene supplies are little changed, EIA reports

New customers said to drive PET expansion at Louisiana packaging plant

Chemical rail shipments spike in Canada, slide in US, Mexico: AAR

Wednesday Nymex wrap: Futures rise while ICE Brent drops

July 28, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Sept. crude rises, ICE Brent slips

Eastman sees higher earnings, sales, but propane hedges still weigh

July 27, 2015

Sabic Considering Shale Gas Investments in US

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Nymex oil drops, gas increases

July 24, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: WTI, Brent futures drop, spread narrows

Stocks nosedive across the board amid bearish oil, NGL markets: PCW Index

July 23, 2015

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: WTI, Brent, gasoline futures decline

Oil, NGL input costs lift Dow’s profits even as sales sag

US PET imports from China plunge in May; down 40% on year

Shaw shuts one Georgia carpet recycling plant, starts another

July 22, 2015

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude oil futures drop below $50 a barrel

Chemical rail shipments down week-over-week; up from a year ago: AAR

NYMEX futures drop with crude supply increase; gasoline demand up

US nonfuel use propylene supplies drop for second week

July 21, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude up; cash gasoline spreads prove mixed bag

US chemical production up 0.5% month-on-month in June: ACC

ANALYSIS: M&A, consolidation continues with Marathon’s MarkWest purchase

Enterprise to restart Mont Belvieu propylene splitter: TCEQ

Coast Guard reopens Houston waterway after barge collision

July 20, 2015

Nymex Monday Wrap: Crude softens; gasoline diffs post mixed results

New Vegas PET Plant Set for end-September Start-Up

Barge collision in Ship Channel causes partial shutdown

July 17, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: WTI, Brent little changed; natgas, gasoline make gains

Marathon-MarkWest deal, broad market rally aid stock rebound: PCW Index

July 16, 2015

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: WTI, Brent move in different directions; natural gas falls

Dow restarting TX-8 olefins unit in Freeport: TCEQ

APR to Expand Plastic Film Recovery Under New Manager

July 15, 2015

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude, gasoline futures finish lower; natgas extends gains

US nonfuel use propylene inventories drop to lowest level since May

Chemical rail shipments rebound from holiday week but still below year-ago: AAR

July 14, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude sees modest rally; natgas, gasoline lower

NGLs at disconnect with crude price action; show sensitivity to fundamentals

July 13, 2015

NYMEX Monday Wrap: Crude sees slight losses on the day; natgas rallies

Phillips 66 to restart two FCC units at Borger refinery: TCEQ

Dow conducting maintenance on TX-7 olefins unit equipment in Freeport: TCEQ

Marathon Petroleum to buy MarkWest Energy for $15.6 billion

July 10, 2015

NYMEX Friday Wrap: WTI, Brent mixed movements; RBOB, gasoline spreads soften

Soft crude oil market again pulls petchem stocks lower: PCW Index

July 9, 2015

Contractor dies at Dow’s Oyster Creek plant

NYMEX Thursday Wrap: Crude, natgas futures rebound; gasoline spreads drop

Shell declares force majeure on styrene at Alberta plant

Enterprise to expand, convert propylene pipelines in La., Texas

Enterprise restarting high-purity isobutylene facility in Pasadena: TCEQ

Chemical leak reported at Dow’s Freeport plant; TX-8 cracker shut (Update1)

Two Master Lock plants employing 350 to close

July 8, 2015

David Bender joins Geo-Tech Polymers as executive VP

NYMEX Wednesday Wrap: Crude oil, spreads on gasoline mixed; Brent gains

Ohio PE, PP packaging plant open after fire, contradicting TV report

Chemical rail shipments declined last week in US, Canada: AAR

NYMEX gasoline climbs despite EIA inventory build as Iran nuclear concern grows

US nonfuel use propylene inventories rebound, Energy Department Reports

Valero restarting fluid catalytic cracking regenerator at Port Arthur refinery: TCEQ

July 7, 2015

NYMEX Tuesday Wrap: Crude slips; gasoline futures, differentials inch up

US resin production, sales increase in May: ACC

Shell’s Deer Park olefins unit sees flaring due to compressor trip: TCEQ

Enterprise conducts maintenance on high-purity isobutylene facility: TCEQ

July 6, 2015

NYMEX Wrap: Oil collapses as Brent settles below $60; gasoline spreads higher

Analysis: PGP prices fall below ethylene on higher supply,  propane cracking rates

Axiall CEO retires as under-performing company searches for new leader

July 2, 2015

Olefins, vinyls stocks tumble along with S&P 500, crude oil prices: PCW index

Massachusetts plastics molder gets 'two-shot' machine at Massachusetts plant

Thursday NYMEX Wrap: WTI, Brent prove a mixed bag; natural gas, gasoline gain

Piping leak occurs at Equistar’s OP-1 ethylene unit: TCEQ

Formosa plans to build new PP production facility in Point Comfort

Enterprise’s Aegis ethane pipe signs new shipper; capacity upped to 300,000 b/d

July 1, 2015

Futures markets falter; WTI slides $2.51, while RBOB hovers just above $2/gal

Chemical rail shipments down from year ago in US, Mexico; up in Canada: AAR

Gasoline futures come off from lows after US reports strong increase in demand

Phillips to shut down Borger refinery heavy oil FCC unit 40 for maintenance: TCEQ

Phillips 66 to restart Borger refinery FCC unit within a few days: TCEQ

US nonfuel use propylene supplies decline for a third week

June 30, 2015

Ethane production overtakes propane in April; NGL output hits record: EIA data

Crude oil, gasoline futures settle lower; natural gas rallies

CB&I to build ethylene storage for new Mexichem/Oxy Texas cracker

June 29, 2015

Crude oil, gasoline futures settle lower; natural gas rallies

Energy Transfer, Williams deal points to consolidation trend; boosts sector’s stock

June 26, 2015

Crude oil futures post mixed results; natural gas finishes up

Williams rally lifts olefins group into positive territory; other sectors decline

June 25, 2015

Crude oil, gasoline futures decline again; natural gas sees another upswing

US chemical production down slightly month-on-month in May: ACC

Phillips 66 takes down Borger refinery FCC unit for maintenance: TCEQ

June 24, 2015

Crude futures, gasoline differentials see decreases; natural gas gains

Rail shipments of chemicals nearly unchanged from a year earlier: AAR

US propane/propylene inventories stand at all-time high: EIA data

Dow conducts maintenance on NGL line at Freeport plant: TCEQ

Gasoline futures reverse course, decline on EIA gasoline stock build

US nonfuel use propylene supplies decline for a third week

June 23, 2015

Crude oil sees slight increase, natural gas futures slump

Formosa raises polyethylene, polypropylene prices five cents for July

June 22, 2015

INEOS announces polypropylene price 5 cpp price increase for July

Injection-molder ARaymond adding new machines, raising nylon consumption

July WTI expires with small gain Monday; Brent sees similar uptick

ExxonMobil lifts polyethylene allocation at Baton Rouge

Shell receives air, water permits for Appalachian cracker

Could West Coast LPG exports provide price relief for Canadian supplies, prices?

Williams rejects Energy Transfer’s $48 billion purchase offer

June 19, 2015

Petchem stock prices make gains across the board despite WTI pullback

Crude oil, gasoline decline; natural gas closes week with a gain

World's Largest PTA/PET Plant Set for Early 2016 Start-Up in Texas

Williams’ Geismar plant running at 87% of expanded capacity rate

News for June 18, 2015

Crude oil, gasoline futures rally; natural gas declines

HOUSTON, June 18, 2015 (PCW) -- July NYMEX crude futures settled up $0.53/bbl to $60.45/bbl, while August ICE Brent crude futures increased $0.73/bbl to $64.34/bbl.

The August Brent/WTI spread widened to $3.52/bbl favoring Brent. Prompt natural gas futures were down 7.8 cents at $2.777/mmBtu. July NYMEX RBOB futures closed at 211.01 cpg, up 0.96 cpg.

US Gulf cash gasoline differentials were lower versus Wednesday’s levels.

The 3-2-1 crack in the Gulf Coast was $15.19/bbl, $10.26/bl under the screen. – John Troland

PBF Energy enters Gulf refinery space with Chalmette purchase from Exxon, PDVSA

Houston, June 18, 2015 (PCW) --- Independent refiner PBF Energy on Thursday entered the Gulf Coast refinery market with its $322 million purchase of the Chalmette refinery in Louisiana from ExxonMobil and its partner PDVSA.

The refinery has a capacity of 189,000 b/d and an estimated benzene capacity of 170,000 mt/year.

The deal also includes 100% ownership of the MOEM Pipeline, which provides access to the Empire Terminal, the CAM Connection pipeline and the LOOP facility through a third-party pipeline. PBF will also get 80% ownership in the Collins Pipeline Company and T&M Terminal Company, both located in Collins, Mississippi, which provide a clean products outlet for the refinery via the Plantation and Colonial Pipelines.

Additionally, PBF is also getting a marine export terminal, a clean products truck rack and a 7.5 million barrel crude and product storage facility.

With the acquisition PBF will increase its total throughput capacity to over 725,000 bbl/d and up its refinery capacity by 35%.

PBF had previously bid for, and lost, BP’s Texas City refinery in 2011.

Exxon said it had put its share of the Chalmette refinery on the block because it was re-evaluating its fit in its overall portfolio. The state-owned PDVSA is under the gun to a recession in Venezuela and is trying to cover its national debts ahead of its national elections.

PBF’s stock price was up $3.86/share, or 14.73%, to $30.31/share in three times the average amount of traded volumes as of 1.45pm Central time. – Samantha Hartke

Axiall, Lotte agree to build ethane cracker in Louisiana

HOUSTON, June 18, 2015 (PCW) --- Axiall and Lotte Chemical on June 17 finalized their joint-venture agreement to build a 1 million mt/year ethane cracker in Louisiana.

The final investment decision – expected in the second half of this year --- is subject to the approval of both firms’ board of directors. The plant has an expected start-up date at the end of 2018.

The two companies have completed a FEED study for the plant, which included site selection, which is expected to be at Lake Charles.

If given the green light, Lotte Chemical also plans to build a monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant adjacent to the cracker. Axiall would not have any involvement in that plant.

Although Lotte is taking the lead in the project, Axiall is contributing $225 million to the cracker’s engineering, procurement and construction phases. The amount of Axiall’s capital contribution relative to the final cost of the cracker will ultimately determine Axiall’s ownership stake, although a cap has been set at 50%.

Earlier this year, both companies had said they were delaying the FID of the cracker due to uncertainty in US energy markets.

When the companies signed their initial agreement in February 2014, they stated the ethane cracker would cost $2 billion and the MEG plant, $1 billion. – Samantha Hartke

News for June 17, 2015

Kinder Morgan launches open season for Utica/Marcellus NGL pipe to the Gulf Coast

HOUSTON, June 17, 2015 (PCW) -- Kinder Morgan on Wednesday launched a binding open season for its planned Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline (UMTP), which would transport Appalachian natural gas liquids to the Texas Gulf Coast, even connecting to a Kinder Morgan dock for possible export.

The $4 billion project would move 430,000 bbl/d of propane, butanes, natural gasoline, y-grade and condensate in batches along the system and has an expected in-service date by the fourth quarter of 2018.

The project calls for the abandonment and conversion of 964 miles of natural gas service on Kinder Morgan’s existing Tennessee Gas Pipeline, the construction of some 200 miles of new pipeline between Louisiana and Texas, new storage in Ohio and 120 miles of new laterals to provide basin connectivity.

The open season ends at 5 p.m. Central Time on September 15.--Samantha Hartke

Crude, natgas, gasoline falter; Brent/WTI spread widens

HOUSTON, June 17, 2015 (PCW) -- July NYMEX crude futures settled down $0.05/bbl to $59.92/bbl, while August ICE Brent crude decreased $0.10/bbl to $63.61/bbl.

The August Brent/WTI spread widened to $3.28/bbl favoring Brent. Prompt natural gas futures were down 3.5 cents at $2.855/mmBtu. July NYMEX RBOB futures closed at 210.05 cpg, down 2.4 cpg.

US Gulf cash gasoline differentials were mostly lower versus Tuesday’s levels.

The 3-2-1 crack in the Gulf Coast was $15.63/bbl, $10/bl under the screen.--John Troland

Rail shipments of chemicals down 2.1% from a year ago: AAR

HOUSTON, June 17, 2015 (PCW) -- North American railroads moved 42,405 carloads of chemicals during the week ending June 13, up 0.54% from a week earlier but down 2.1% from the comparable week of 2014, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said Wednesday in its weekly rail traffic report.

US chemical carloads rose 1.8% week-over-week to 30,070, which was a 1% increase from a year ago, according to AAR.

In Canada, AAR reported 11,148 carloads, down 0.4% on the week and down 7.6% on the year. And in Mexico, the association reported an 11.77% increase from a week earlier to 1,187 carloads. That represents a 20.7% decline year-over-year.

For 2015 to date, North American railroads have moved 1.004 million carloads of chemicals, a 0.6% increase over the same period of 2014, AAR said. – Mark Davidson

NYMEX RBOB falls after release of EIA gasoline stockpiles report

HOUSTON, June 17, 2015 (PCW) -- NYMEX gasoline futures prices reversed course early Wednesday and fell as the market reacted to mixed inventory figures.

As off 10:22 am CDT the July NYMEX futures contract was down 0.83 cpg to 211.62 cpg. However, before US Energy Information data for the week ending June 12 were released at 9:30 am CDT, RBOB was much higher, hitting 218.58 cpg.

The figures showed total gasoline stocks built 400,000 barrels to 217.4 million barrels. Numbers shown by the American Petroleum Institute released late Tuesday showed a draw in gasoline, market sources said. The EIA numbers are widely viewed as better than the API.

The build in gasoline stocks occurred despite lower refinery runs. Total inputs to refineries in the US was 93.1% of capacity, down from 94.6% the previous week; in the Gulf Coast (the source of much of the incremental supply of products in the US), the figures were 98.3%, down from 98.4%.

One thing that remains clear is that gasoline demand is up. On a four-week average basis, total domestic demand was 9.372 million bbl/d, up about 400,000 bbl/d compared to the same period last year. – Robert Sharp

US nonfuel use propylene supplies little changed from previous week

HOUSTON, June 17, 2015 (PCW) -- US nonfuel use propylene inventories were little changed from the previous week's total at 5.367 million barrels for the week ended June 12, the Energy Department reported today. Supplies are 31% higher than the same week a year earlier, according to the department's Energy Information Administration.

US Nonfuel Use Propylene Inventories
000 bbl Current Week
Change
Percentage
change
Current week 5,367
Last week 5,370 -3 -0.1%
4 weeks ago 5,377 -10 -0.2%
Year ago 4,085 1,282 31.4%
52 week average 3,952 1,415 35.8%
Source: US Energy Information Administration

News for June 16, 2015

WTI, Brent crude post mixed results; gasoline lower across the board

HOUSTON, June 16, 2015 (PCW) -- July NYMEX crude futures settled up $0.45/bbl to $59.97/bbl. August ICE Brent crude futures, at the close of the NYMEX, decreased $0.25/bbl to $63.71/bbl.

The August Brent/WTI spread narrowed to $3.26/bbl favoring Brent. Prompt natural gas futures were up 0.5 cent at $2.894/mmBtu. July NYMEX RBOB futures closed at 212.45 cpg, up 2.54 cpg.

The 3-2-1 crack in the Gulf Coast was $15.85/bbl, $10.05/bl under the screen.--John Troland

Evangeline ethylene pipeline to resume partial operations

Houston, June 16, 2015 (PCW) -- The Evangeline ethylene pipeline is expected to resume partial commercial operations today, according to a statement from pipeline operator Boardwalk Pipeline Partners. The pipeline is expected to resume full commercial operations Wednesday at a reduced pressure. The timing of a full return to maximum operating pressure will depend on several factors, including final in-line inspection reports.

The pipeline has experienced various operational issues since mid-2013. It shut in early Aug 2013 for an extended period, not returning to service until May 2014. At that time, the asset was owned by Chevron Pipe Line Company. Boardwalk purchased the asset on Oct 8, 2014 and the pipeline shut again on Oct 10. It returned to service on Dec 17, 2014 but shut again Jan 14, 2015. It has been shut since that time, resuming operations this week.

The pipeline is a major connection for transporting ethylene from Texas to Louisiana. Its absence from the market during the past two years has kept ethylene supply availability in Louisiana particularly constrained. As a result, ethylene delivered in Louisiana has held a significant price premium to ethylene delivered in Texas. Most recently, this premium has been as high as 20 cents per pound. For daily summaries of ethylene pricing in Texas and Louisiana, check out the PetroChem Wire Daily Report by clicking here.--Kathy Hall

Shell closes purchase of site for Appalachian cracker

HOUSTON, June 16, 2015 (PCW) – Shell has closed its purchase for the site of its proposed Appalachian cracker, seller Horsehead Holding said late Monday, bringing the company a step closer to its plans.

The purchase price was not disclosed. The site is in Monaca, Pennsylvania, and was Horsehead’s location of its former zinc smelter facility.

Shell’s cracker is estimated to cost $4 billion. It has a proposed capacity of 3 billion lbs/year and is expected online at the end of the decade.--Samantha Hartke

Western Canadian underground propane inventories at 6-year highs in June: NEB

HOUSTON, June 16, 2015 (PCW) – Western Canadian underground propane inventories stood at 6.343 million barrels in June, National Energy Board data showed recently, marking a six-year high for this time of year.

This was an 183,000 barrel, or 2.9%, increase from May and 1.317 million barrels over the year-ago level.

Eastern Canadian underground propane inventories stood at 3.197 million barrels in June, the highest since June 2012 when levels came in at 3.589 million barrels. This was a month-on-month increase of 539,000 barrels, or 20.3%, and also 368,000 barrels above year-ago levels.

Total Canadian propane inventories were reported at 8.056 million barrels in June, just 2,000 barrels shy of the six-year high for this time of year set in June 2012. June’s levels was a 544,000 barrel, or 7.2%, uptick from May and 1.472 million barrels over the year-ago level.

Total Canadian propane inventories were reported at 8.056 million barrels in June, just 2,000 barrels shy of the six-year high for this time of year set in June 2012. June’s levels was a 544,000 barrel, or 7.2%, uptick from May and 1.472 million barrels over the year-ago level.--Samantha Hartke

See inventory graphs below.

Propane graph 1 Propane graph 2 Propane graph 3

News for June 15, 2015

Crude futures, gasoline falter; natural gas rallies sharply

HOUSTON, June 15, 2015 (PCW) --- NYMEX crude futures decreased $0.44 to $59.52/bbl. July ICE Brent crude futures settled down $1.82 to $62.45/bbl. The July Brent/WTI spread narrowed to $2.93/bbl favoring Brent.

Prompt natural gas futures were up 13.9 cents at $2.889/mmBtu.

The July Brent/WTI spread narrowed to $2.93/bbl favoring Brent. Prompt natural gas futures were up 13.9 cents at $2.889/mmBtu. July NYMEX RBOB futures closed at 209.91 cpg, down 2.20 cpg.

US Gulf cash gasoline differentials were mostly lower versus Friday’s levels:

Growing Appalachian infrastructure highlights production, possible pricing hub

HOUSTON, June 15, 2015 (PCW) -- Recently several company announcements regarding additional infrastructure in Appalachia has once again highlighted the continued rampant production out of the Marcellus and Utica Shales--production basins that have bucked the overall trend of stagnant or declining supplies amid a bearish price environment.

Energy Transfer Partners’ Revolution proposes, among other things, an NGL pipeline that will connect to Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East pipe that would move ethane and propane to the Marcus Hook terminal in Pennsylvania, largely for export. The project also calls for an NGL fractionator to be built at Marcus Hook. Sunoco, meanwhile, is looking at boosting the capacity on Mariner East by means of a second pipeline. Braskem is looking at either Pennsylvania or Texas as the site of its proposed polypropylene plant, while Sunoco continues to study the possibility of a PDH unit at Marcus Hook.

No Letup

These various announcements appear to highlight two things: Appalachian production shows no signs of stopping or slowing down, and transport to markets eastward and then perhaps overseas might be more attractive than taking supplies to benchmark Gulf Coast markets.

The possibility of new Northeastern demand, in the form of petrochemical consumption or additional export demand, could put that in question. Moreover, with ethane prices remaining depressed and coming just a few cents above the ATEX pipeline tariff (which is the only pipeline moving Appalachian supplies down to the Gulf currently), spot volumes on that line remain thin.

From a pricing perspective, however, one of the implications of increased Northeastern demand is the possible emergence of a Northeast NGL pricing hub. Production from both the Marcellus and Utica shales is expected to remain strong and the region’s connections to eastern Canada, Gulf Coast and international markets position it as a swing supplier. This intersection of production, broad infrastructure and multiple demand outlets beg the need for spot pricing in the Northeast independent of Mont Belvieu.--Samantha Hartke

Enterprise conducts maintenance on propane/propylene splitter: TCEQ

HOUSTON, June 15, 2015 (PCW) – Enterprise Products Partners is conducting maintenance on its propane/propylene Splitter II at Mont Belvieu between Sunday through June 21, according to a TCEQ filing.

The splitter has a capacity of 14,000 bbl/d.--Samantha Hartke

Read the complete filing here.

News for June 12, 2015

Valero’s Port Arthur refinery gasoline FCC in restart mode: TCEQ

HOUSTON, June 12, 2015 (PCW) --- Valero’s gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracker unit 1241 at its Port Arthur refinery is in restart mode after a planned turnaround, according to a TCEQ filing Friday.

The refinery has a total throughput capacity of 310,000 b/d.--Samantha Hartke

Read the entire filing by clicking here

Olefins, vinyls, refining see modest stock price gains as WTI, S&P 500 rise

HOUSTON, June 12, 2015 (PCW) – PetroChem Wire’s weekly stock price index* was modestly higher week-over-week on Thursday as WTI crude, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 all rose.

The midstream sector was the only loser loser as stock prices in that basket of companies were down an average of $21 cents/share, or 0.52%, week-on-week to $40.07/share. The decline was driven largely by a 4.74% retreat by Boardwalk Pipeline Partners and a 2.38% slide by Targa compared with the prior Thursday.

Olefins/polyolefins companies’ stock prices gained an average of 48 cents/share, or 0.68%, to $70.77/share. Meanwhile, the aromatics/refinery sector posted a 77 cent/share increase, or 1.25%, to average $62.56, with PBF realizing the biggest gain at 5.39%.

In the vinyls sector, the average stock price increased 63 cents to $46.11/share, a gain of 1.38% from the prior Thursday. – Mark Davidson

*A basket of US companies comprised of the following companies:

Weekly Stock Price Index
  This Week Last Week Difference % Difference
Midstream Average 40.07 40.28 -0.21 -0.52
Olefins/Polyolefins Average 70.77 70.29 0.48 0.68
Aros/Refinery Average 62.56 61.78 0.77 1.25
Vinyls Average 46.11 45.48 0.63 1.38
Major Economic Indicators
  This Week Last Week Difference % Difference
EUR/USD 1.12 1.12 0.00 0.00
Dow Jones Indices 18039.37 17905.58 133.79 0.75
S&P 500 2108.86 2095.84 13.02 0.62
WTI crude 61.43 57.98 3.45 5.95

News for June 11, 2015

US propylene contracts settle for June

HOUSTON, June 11, 2015 (PCW) -- US monthly contracts for propylene have settled for June at 40 cpp for polymer grade and at 38.5 cpp for chemical grade, representing a 2 cpp decrease from May.

Chem grade propylene contracts began settling on Wednesday and polymer grade propylene contracts began settling on Thursday. Spot polymer grade propylene has been trading lower, from 37.5 cpp last week down to 36.5 cpp on Thursday.--Kathy Hall

For a daily summary of propylene trades and market news, check out the PCW Daily Report

Dow restarts Plaquemine olefins unit after May maintenance shutdown

HOUSTON, June 11, 2015 (PCW) -- Dow Chemical's LA-3 olefins unit at Plaquemine, Louisiana has restarted after shutting down at the end of May for maintenance.

The outage, combined with the continued outage at William's Geismar olefins unit that also began at the end of May, as well as the loss of service of the Evangeline ethylene pipeline that brings ethylene from Texas into Louisiana, has contributed to a very tight supply situation for Louisiana ethylene. While ethylene in Texas has been trading in the mid-30s cpp range, ethylene in Louisiana has been trading in the mid-50s cpp range.

The return of Dow's LA-3 unit brings the aggregate maximum operating rate for olefins plants in Louisiana back above 80%. The plant represents approximately 2.7% of US ethylene capacity.--Kathy Hall

For a daily snapshot of Gulf Coast ethylene operating rates and daily operations news, check out the Genscape/PCW Morning PetroChem Update by clicking here.

News for June 10, 2015

Rail shipments of chemicals down 4.4 percent from a year earlier: AAR

HOUSTON, June 10, 2015 (PCW) -- North American railroads moved 42,174 carloads of chemicals during the week ending June 6, nearly unchanged from a week earlier but down 4.4% from the comparable week of 2014, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said Wednesday in its weekly rail traffic report.

U.S. chemical carloads rose 0.2% week-over-week to 29,517, which was a 3.6% decline from a year ago, according to AAR.

In Canada, AAR reported 11,595 carloads, up 1.7% on the week but down 3.3% on the year. And in Mexico, the association reported a sharp 24.1% drop from a week earlier to 1,062 carloads. That represents a 29.5% decline year-over-year.

For 2015 to date, North American railroads have moved 962,380 carloads of chemicals, a 0.8% increase over the same period of 2014, AAR said.--Mark Davidson

US plastic scrap exports to China Up 35 percent in April from year earlier

HOUSTON, June 10, 2015 (PCW) -- US exports of unsorted plastics scrap to China totaled 35,726 MT in April, up 35% from April 2014 and valued at $12.4 million, the most recent US Trade Online data show.

Jan-April 2015 US exports of the same plastics to China were valued at $35.6 million, down from $37.5 million in Jan-April 2014. A total of 100,788 metric tons of this scrap was exported to China in Jan-April 2015, down 1% from Jan-April 2014.

China is the largest destination of US plastic scrap exports. In 2014, the US exported 314,001 MT of unsorted plastic scrap to China, valued at $114.3 million, or 41% of total US unsorted plastic scrap exports (761,740 MT).

The unsorted plastic scrap category includes PET, HDPE, PVC (vinyl), LDPE, PP, PS and scrap comprised of more than one of the six major plastic resins. It is the largest of the five categories of plastic scrap exports tracked by USA Trade Online, a unit of the US Census Bureau. The other export categories are for sorted PE, PS, PV, and PET scrap. --Xavier A. Cronin

NYMEX RBOB prices gain 5 cents/gal on bullish inventories

HOUSTON, June 10, 2015 (PCW) -- NYMEX gasoline futures prices shot up more than 5 cpg early Wednesday as the market reacted to bullish demand and stock figures. As of 10:44 CDT, the July NYMEX contract was up 4.42 cpg, to 212.14 cpg.

RBOB finished Tuesday at 207.71 cpg, up 6.96 cpg, on bullish inventory numbers put out by the American Petroleum Institute. The NYMEX RBOB market is up about 29 cpg since early April.

The US Energy Information Administration weekly statistics for the week ended June 5 listed total gasoline demand in US at 9.393 million b/d on a four week average basis, 3.4 million b/d over the same time period last year.

Total domestic gasoline inventories fell 2.9 million barrels to 217.4 million barrels. At the same time inputs to refineries –- crude runs –- increased to 94.2% in the entire US, up from 93.2%. In the critical Gulf Coast region, the figures was 98.4%, a very high number, up from 96.9%.

“I don’t see how Gulf Coast crude runs can go any higher,” commented one trader.

Total domestic gasoline stocks are now only 3.7 million barrels higher than 2014 earlier in the year the figure was 10 million barrels. --Robert Sharp

US nonfuel use propylene supplies jump more than 2 percent

HOUSTON, June 10, 2015 (PCW) -- US nonfuel use propylene inventories climbed more than 2%, almost erasing the previous two weeks of drawdowns, Energy Department data show. Inventories are at 95% of the record high set in Jan 2012, according to figures released by the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration. --David Barry

US Nonfuel Use Propylene Inventories
000 bbl Current Week
Change
Percentage
change
Current week 5,370
Last week 5,243 127 2.4%
4 weeks ago 4,975 395 7.9%
Year ago 4,239 1,131 26.7%
52 week average 3,928 1,442 36.7%
Source: US Energy Information Administration

Western Canadian propane trades below zero as Gulf, Midwest prices tumble

HOUSTON, June 10, 2015 (PCW) -- As Gulf Coast and Midcontinent spot propane prices plummeted to record lows this week, western Canadian prices were hitting nadirs of their own, entering negative territory.

Typically Edmonton propane prices – which trade as a differential to Conway, Kansas – have come in between 10-20 cpg under the Midcontinent hub. Last week, when Gulf Coast propane hit an all-time low Friday of 33.5 cpg as per PetroChem Wire prices, Edmonton propane traded between 40-50 cpg under Conway. Some market sources said they were actually paid in kind --- mainly as discounts to freight costs -- to take propane off some sellers’ hands.

Conway propane on Friday was assessed at 30 cpg and Edmonton propane continued to be heard traded below 0 cpg.

Distressed Propane

The widening price differential owes a lot to the overall distressed state of propane in North America, which is a tale of rampant production and lagging demand and takeaway capacity. Western Canadian NGLs, however, have been further stressed by the reversal of Kinder Morgan’s Cochin Pipeline in April 2014, which runs from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, to Sarnia, Ontario. The pipeline – which used to transport propane west to east --- now moves 95,000 bbl/d of condensate from Kinder Morgan’s Cochin terminal in Kankakee County, Illinois, to Fort Saskatchewan.

This reversal has been key in upending historical Edmonton propane price trends. For instance, prior to the reversal, Edmonton propane often held premiums over Conway in the winter, largely due to heating demand needs both locally and in the Midwest. Prior to the reversal, in the winter of 2013-14, Edmonton propane held between 5-10 cpg premiums over Conway. This winter, however, Edmonton propane was already at a 10-20 cpg discount to Conway.

Transportation Issues

What has deepened the discount, however, is the continued inability to move propane out of western Canada and resulting high inventories there. Currently, propane’s only pipeline takeaway option is the Enbridge Mainline, which transports a mix of liquids to Sarnia. Currently, about 94% of propane is transported via rail, according to National Energy Board data.

This has pressured rail facilities out of the region, although that should soon ease with the start-up of Keyera’s 40,000 bbl/d Josephburg terminal in July.

Meanwhile, western Canadian propane inventories continue to build, coming in May 1 at 4.4 million barrels. The NEB estimates that if summer injection rates remain above historical norms, stockpiles could test the storage capacity limit of 9.4 million barrels by autumn.

Market sources caution that with whatever propane that can leave western Canadian eagerly entering the Midcontinent, storage levels in that region could also become strained and pressure Conway prices lower as well.--Samantha Hartke

News for June 9, 2015

rPET in Feedstock Mix at Comar, California, Bottle Plant

Houston, June 9, 2015 (PCW) -- Recycled PET (rPET) is part of the feedstock mix at Comar LLC's Rancho Cucamonga, California, plastic bottle/packaging plant, company CEO Michael Ruggieri said Tuesday in an interview with PCW.

Important Facts:

The plant's products include PET and HDPE "Round Packer" pill bottles. Located 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles, it also produces closures and dispensing devices, like oral syringes, for the pharmaceutical, health-care and other industries. The plant's products are primarily shipped throughout Southern California, but also elsewhere in the US.

rPET is typically produced as repro (pellet) or regrind (flake) resin with scrap PET. It is sometimes blended into the feedstock mix in the manufacture of PET bottles and containters. Its increased use in recent years in this capacity underscores efforts to add more post-consumer and post-industrial PET into the production mix for new products.

Buena, New Jersey-based Comar operates five plastic bottle/container/packaging plants in the US and one in Puerto Rico. --Xavier A. Cronin

Lower US PET Scrap Exports to China Tied to Port Labor Dispute

HOUSTON, May 22, 2015 (PCW) -- US exports of PET scrap to China fell 37% in April compared to April 2014, according to the most recent USA Trade Online data. A labor dispute caused a backup of container ships loading and unloading cargoes at US West Coast ports this past spring, resulting in reduced PET export volumes to China. About half of all US PET scrap exports typically go to China.

Scrap PET is the major feedstock for rPET repro and regrind.

The USA Trade Online data show:

USA Trade Online is part of the US Census Bureau, itself part of the US Commerce Department.                    -- Xavier A. Cronin

News for June 8, 2015

ETP provides details on Appalachian gas line, NGL fractionation project

HOUSTON, June 8, 2015 (PCW) – Energy Transfer Partners on Monday provided further details on its Revolution project, which will transport natural gas and fractionate and ship natural gas liquids in Appalachia.

The $1.5 billion project will help gather, process and transport supplies in the Marcellus Shale in western Pennsylvania, ETP said.

The project includes:

ETP said it has entered into long-term gas gathering, processing, and fractionation agreements with EdgeMarc Energy, an E&P firm headquartered in southwestern Pennsylvania.--Samantha Hartke

‘Pinhole leak’ reported on aromatics pipeline at Shell’s Deer Park facility: TCEQ

HOUSTON, June 8, 2015 (PCW) – Shell reported a ‘pinhole leak’ on a pipeline at its Deer Park facility early Sunday morning, according to a TCEQ filing.

As a result of the leak, benzene, toluene and xylene was emitted, the filing stated.

“Activities are underway to stop the leak and repair the line. An investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the release,” the filing stated.--Samantha Hartke

Read the entire filing by clicking here.

CP Chem’s Sweeny 22 ethylene unit goes down over weekend: TCEQ

HOUSTON, June 8, 2015 (PCW) – Chevron Phillips’ Sweeny 22 ethylene unit had a brief outage over the weekend due to a propylene compressor shutdown, according to TCEQ filings.

The shutdown occurred the afternoon of June 5, but began restart activities June 6.

The unit has a capacity of 600,000 million lbs/year. It had recently returned to service May 22 after another outage.--Samantha Hartke

Read the filings by clicking here and here

News for June 5, 2015

Willbros Group to build Enterprise’s ethane export pipeline

HOUSTON, June 5, 2015 (PCW) -- Willbros Group said Friday it would build an ethane export pipeline for Enterprise Product Partners connecting Mont Belvieu with Enterprise’s export terminal in Galveston Bay.

The 15.5 mile 24-inch ethane pipeline from Enterprise's storage facility near Mont Belvieu to its Morgan's Point terminal is expected to begin construction this month and should be completed in November, Willbros said.

Enterprise's 240,000 bbl/d ethane export facility has a scheduled in-service date in the third quarter of next year. --Samantha Hartke

Refining, chem company share prices drop along with crude, DJIA, US dollar

HOUSTON, June 5, 2015 (PCW) – PetroChem Wire’s weekly stock price index* was lower week-over-week on Thursday as WTI crude, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index and the US dollar all weakened.

The aromatics/refinery sector was the biggest loser as their stock prices were down an average of $1.86/share, or 2.69% week-on-week, in line with crumbling crude prices.

Olefins/polyolefins/vinyls companies’ stock prices saw the smallest losses as they were down an average of 77 cents/share, or 1.12% on the week.

Of all the companies, Targa Midstream took the biggest hit as it closed Thursday at $40.78/share, down $2.58/share, or 5.95%, compared with the prior Thursday.

A handful of companies bucked the overall downward trend with independent refiner Alon USA Energy seeing its stock price up 52 cents/share Thursday to $17.39/share, a 3.08% increase. Traded volumes, however, were on the thin side with only half the three-month average changing hands Thursday. --Samantha Hartke

*A basket of US companies comprised of the following companies:

Weekly Stock Price Index
  This Week Last Week Difference % Difference
Midstream Average 40.28 42.08 -1.79 -4.26
Olefins/Polyols/Vinyls Average 67.60 68.36 -0.77 -1.12
Aros/Refinery Average 67.30 69.16 -1.86 -2.69
Major Economic Indicators
  This Week Last Week Difference % Difference
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News for June 4, 2015

'Upset' at Equistar’s Corpus Christi ethylene plant causes flaring: TCEQ

HOUSTON, June 4, 2015 (PCW) --  An “unexpected upset” at Equistar’s Corpus Christi olefins plant resulted in flaring emissions, according to a TCEQ filing today.

The upset occurred Wednesday afternoon at the 1.7 billion lbs/year plant.

“An investigation into the cause of the event is still ongoing,” the filing stated.

The plant has been running continuously since February 2010, according to PCW reports.--Samantha Hartke

Read the entire filing by clicking here.

Production, sales of plastic resins up 1.8% and 3% year-on-year in April: ACC

HOUSTON, June 4, 2015 (PCW) – Domestic production of major plastic resins came in at 6.3 billion pounds in April, up 1.8% from the same time a year ago, according to data from the American Chemistry Council released today.

ACC data shows that year-to-date production was 25.5 billion pounds, 3% up from the same year-ago period.

Sales and captive use of major plastic resins was 6.7 billion pounds in April, up 12.2% compared to April 2014. Year-to-date sales and captive use was 25.7 billion pounds, a 5.4% increase from the same period a year ago.--Samantha Hartke

Production, sales of plastic resins up 1.8% and 3% year-on-year in April: ACC

HOUSTON, June 4, 2015 (PCW) – Domestic production of major plastic resins came in at 6.3 billion pounds in April, up 1.8% from the same time a year ago, according to data from the American Chemistry Council released today.

ACC data shows that year-to-date production was 25.5 billion pounds, 3% up from the same year-ago period.

Sales and captive use of major plastic resins was 6.7 billion pounds in April, up 12.2% compared to April 2014. Year-to-date sales and captive use was 25.7 billion pounds, a 5.4% increase from the same period a year ago.--Samantha Hartke

Westlake asks IRS to revise proposed MLP regulations

HOUSTON, June 4, 2015 (PCW) -- Westlake Chemical Partners LP released a statement Wednesday about its continuing dialogue with the Internal Revenue Service and US Department of Treasury. Westlake has asked the agencies to revise their proposed regulations, which the company says would adversely impact its own Master Limited Partnership. The proposed new rules, announced on May 5, would bar chemical manufacturers from forming Master Limited Partnerships but would allow many energy-related companies to use the MLP structure to raise money.

According to the Westlake statement, the IRS says:

In response, Westlake says:

Westlake said it plans to submit its comments to the IRS by Aug 4.--Donna Todd

News for June 3, 2015

US PET imports from Canada, India surge in April; China lower

HOUSTON, June 3, 2015 (PCW) -- US imports of packaging-grade PET from Canada and India were up sharply in April over April 2014, while imports from China and Oman were lower, USA Trade Online data show. All four countries have been targeted for anti-dumping duties by US PET producers Dak Americas, M&G Chemicals and Nan Ya Plastics. They accounted for about 56% of all US packaging-grade PET imports in 2014, or 329,000 metric tons.

The most recent data on US PET imports from USA Trade Online for April 2015 show the following:

The US PET producers in March filed a complaint with US government agencies handling dumping cases. A decision by the US International Trade Administration on whether anti-dumping duties will be imposed is expected in August. – Xavier A. Cronin

News for June 2, 2015

Union Pacific plans to spend 10 Percent of $4.2 Billion investment in Texas, Louisiana

Houston, June 2, 2015 (PCW) -- About 10 percent of the $4.2 billion Union Pacific plants to spend on system improvements this year will go toward upgrades to signal systems, bridge and rail maintenance in Texas and Louisiana, the company said.

The rail company reported that chemicals and oil shipments accounted for 267,000 of its railcars shipped in 1Q 2015, or 12% of its total volume for the quarter, behind intermodal shipments and coal. Of that, the number of plastics railcar shipments were up 8% on the year at 62,500 cars. Industrial chemicals accounted for 66,750 cars and LPG accounted for 40,000 cars. Crude oil rail shipment volumes were down 38% on the year for Union Pacific, at 23,400 cars for the quarter.--Donna Todd

Union Pacific 2015 System Spending Plans ($ millions)
State 2015   Total Track Maintenance Signal Enhancement Bridge Maintenance
Texas $383 $289 $18 $75
Kansas $120 $110 $2.2 $7.5
Nebraska $102 $90 $8 $4
Arkansas $98 $81 $8 $8
Louisiana $72 $67 $1 $2
Missouri $66 $48 $8 $10
Oklahoma $27 $23 $.634 $3
Wisconsin $6 $4.6 $.223 $1

Utica Shale Production Increases During 1Q 2015 in Ohio

HOUSTON, June 2, 2015 (PCW) -- Ohio’s horizontal shale wells produced 4,401,687 barrels of oil and 183 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas during the first quarter of 2015, according to figures released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Oil production increased by more than 842,000 barrels and gas by more than 18 bcf compared with the fourth quarter of 2014.

In the first quarter of 2014 418 horizontal shale wells produced 1,951,641 barrels of oil and 67 bcf of natural gas.

While the fourth quarter of 2014 saw a 25 percent increase in oil production over the third quarter, the increase was 545,000 barrels, 300,000 barrels less than the first quarter of 2015 production.

The new report lists 926 wells, 877 of which reported production, resulting in a 12% increase in wells for the first quarter. Forty-nine wells reported no production as they are waiting on pipeline infrastructure.

The gas reporting totals listed on the report include NGLs, as Ohio law does not require the separate reporting of NGLs.--Donna Todd

Canadian wildfires near oil sands abate; impact to natural gasoline still unclear

HOUSTON, June 2, 2015 (PCW) --- With about 10 percent of Canadian oil sands production still off line even as Alberta wild fires appeared to abate, the impact on natural gasoline prices are still unclear.

Natural gasoline is exported to western Canada to be used as a diluent in oil sands production.

Official estimates state about 233,000 bbl/d of oil sands production remains offline as companies with sites close to the wildfires that began last week evacuated staff.

Several companies began returning staff to their sites today to survey the damage and resume production.

Meanwhile, natural gasoline remained unchanged at 127 cpg since last Friday, even as other NGL prices increased. Natural gasoline finally saw gains Tuesday when it was assessed up 2.5 cpg to 129.5 cpg.--Samantha Hartke

SK Global Chemical Selling Nexlene PE Business to Sabic joint venture

HOUSTON, June 2, 2015 (PCW) -- SK Global Chemical has agreed to sell its polyethylene (PE) business, Nexlene, to a joint venture it owns with Sabic. The 50-50 venture, named Sabic SK Nexlene, will have rights to the Nexlene technology and its PE plant in South Korea with an annual capacity of 230,000 mt/year. The companies plan to start up a new Nexlene facility in Saudi Arabia in the second half of 2015.

Sabic and SK Global Chemical originally signed the JV agreement on May 26, 2014. The agreement called for a total investment of $595 million to manufacture a range of high-performance PE products using SK’s Nexlene solution technology. The plants will produce metallocene LLDPE, polyolefin plastomers and polyolefin elastomers.--Donna Todd

Enterprise reaches $2.15 billion deal to buy EFS Midstream

Houston, June 2, 2015 (PCW) – Enterprise Products Partners has reached an agreement to buy EFS Midstream from Pioneer Natural Resources and Reliance Industries affiliate Reliance Holding USA for $2.15 billion. Pioneer owns 50.1 percent of EFS Midstream, while Reliance owns the remaining 49.9 percent.

The midstream business operates in Texas' Eagle Ford Shale. The system includes 460 miles of natural gas gathering pipelines, 10 central gathering plants, 780 million cubic feet per day of natural gas treating capacity and 119,000 barrels per day of condensate stabilization capacity. The companies expect to complete the transaction in the third quarter.

“This ‘bolt on’ acquisition extends our integrated system deeper into the NGL and condensate rich areas of the Eagle Ford, which will provide us with the ability to offer services to additional producers and increase volumes on our system,” said Michael Creel, CEO of Enterprise.--Donna Todd.

Pasadena Refining System’s FCC unit to undergo maintenance: TCEQ filing

HOUSTON, June 2, 2015 (PCW) --- Pasadena Refining System will take down its fluid catalytic cracker for planned maintenance between Monday and Wednesday, according to a TCEQ filing.

“Operations will follow safe unit shutdown procedures to minimize emissions,” the filing stated.

The refinery has an overall capacity of 100,000 bbl/d.--Samantha Hartke

To see the complete filing, click here.

Enterprise Products restarting West Texas Frac II unit: TCEQ filing

HOUSTON, June 2, 2015 (PCW) --- Enterprise Products Partners will restart its West Texas Frac II at Mont Belvieu by Tuesday, according to a TCEQ filing.

“Enterprise will restart the West Texas Frac II unit after completing scheduled maintenance activities. The restart date, time, and duration are estimated based on projected maintenance completion and weather conditions,” the filing stated.

West Texas Frac I and II have a combined capacity of 115,000 b/d.--Samantha Hartke

To see the complete filing, click here.

News for June 1, 2015

Westlake Chemical Acquires Additional Interest in Suzhou Huasu Plastics Company

HOUSTON, June 1, 2015 (PCW) -- Westlake Chemical Corporation announced today that it has acquired INEOS ChlorVinyls Holdings B.V.'s 35.7% interest in Suzhou Huasu Plastics Co., Ltd., (SHPC) a PVC resin and downstream fabrication joint venture based near Shanghai, China. Westlake now owns a 95% interest in this joint venture. Suzhou Huasu Plastics Co., Ltd. was founded in 1992 by Mr. T.T. Chao, group chairman of Westlake Group.

SHPC operates a PVC resin production plant as well as specialty film and window profile operations. Huasu has eight film production lines. The company produces a wide range of film products, such as inflatable boats/toys, semi-rigid ceiling films, transparent insulation tapes and stationery. Its products are sold in China as well as the United States, Australia, Japan, Europe and Southeast Asia.--Donna Todd

Spot propane drops to record lows, upends price relationships with other hubs

HOUSTON, June 1, 2015 (PCW) -- LST spot propane touched record lows this past week, driven down by softer crude prices, the seasonal fall-off of heating demand, continued production growth from domestic shales and record high inventory levels. LST propane was assessed at 37.75 cpg Wednesday, its lowest since PetroChem Wire began assessing NGL prices in 2007.

But lower still are prices at the nearby Enterprise (EPC) hub at Mont Belvieu and at Midcontinent benchmark Conway, Kansas, with the overall distressed state of propane disrupting typical price relationships between the various hubs.

EPC propane started the week at a 5.75 cpg discount to LST propane, an atypical occurrence given the two hubs tend to trade a few cents apart. What weighed down EPC was the recent heavy rains and flooding in the Mont Belvieu area, which reportedly contaminated brine ponds at the hub, bringing storage to a standstill. EPC is more susceptible to such weather events because of the hub’s relatively larger size – 200 million barrels – and reports that it was already nearing capacity before the rains hit. Meanwhile, propane storage levels in the Gulf Coast are at record highs for this time of year. Midwest inventories, however, are only the highest for this time of year since 2012.

One of the offshoots of these varying storage levels is the tightening price gap between LST and Conway propane. Transport from the Midcontinent to the Gulf Coast has to be at least 5 cpg for the arb to be workable. Since May 20, however, the spread has come in at less than that as LST propane has seen steeper falls than Conway. In contrast, for the month-to-date, the LST-Conway spread has averaged 5.8 cpg.

While some market sources expect this closed arb could result in larger PADD II builds going forward, some traders said they were going to move barrels south anyway and take the losses, rather than face Conway’s more expensive propane storage fees relative to Mont Belvieu. However, given the weather-related issues now facing Gulf Coast storage, many are expecting overall propane prices to continue to head south in the near term.--Samantha Hartke

News for May 29, 2015

Vestolit adding PVC capacity in Germany

HOUSTON, May 29, 2015 (PCW) -- Mexican PVC and specialty chemicals maker Mexichem SAB de CV is increasing the capacity of its PVC paste-producing subsidiary Vestolit GmbH & Co. KG in Germany by 40,000 metric tons a year, it said May 29.

Tlalnepantla-based Mexichem said the investment will turn the Vestolit facility in Marl into “the largest single site for emulsion PVC.” Current production in Marl is 400,000 metric tons a year, according to Vestolit.

Mexichem said it will add a new production line, combining established polymerization technology with newly developed energy-efficient drying technology. But it did not say how much it is spending in the expansion. The company did not reply immediately to questions.

The investment will strengthen Vestolit’s market position in ultra-low viscous PVC, Michael Träger, Vestolit’s CEO, said.

Carlos Manrique, president of Mexichem Chlorine-Vinyl chain, which oversees Vestolit’s operations, said the investment is part of Mexichem’s global strategy to expand its asset base and focus on specialty products.

Mexichem agreed to buy Vestolit from investment company Strategic Value Partners (SVP Global) for 219 million euros in August. The European Commission approved the deal in November.

According to Mexichem, Vestolit is Europe's only manufacturer of high-impact suspension PVC (HIS-PVC) for weather-resistant windows and is Europe's second-largest producer of PVC paste for floors and wallpapers, among others.--Donna Todd

Waste Management buys PET scrap at 13.75 cpp in Florida sale

HOUSTON, May 29, 2015 (PCW) -- Waste Management on May 28 bought 10-12 truckloads (400,000 to 480,000 lb) of PET scrap in a Florida bid offering watched closely by the PET industry. The recycling giant was the high bidder at 13.75 cpp in the Solid Waste Authority (SWA) of Palm Beach County's monthly offer of scrap plastic and metal. This is about a penny higher than East Coast business done a week ago.

The PET scrap is baled green and clear bottles and containers. Terms are FOB SWA facility basis for June pick-up.

The SWA also sold bales of mixed-colors HDPE scrap (three truckloads) at 26.1 cpp to Signode International Group; natural HDPE (three truckloads) at 36.5 cpp and one truckload of numbers 1-7 large and oversized plastic scrap at 7.03 cpp, both to Cellmark; and a truckload of numbers 1-7 bottles and containers of plastic scrap at 7.5 cpp to Waste Management.--Xavier Cronin

Houston flooding causes rail delays; will take days to resume normal operations

HOUSTON, May 29, 2015 (PCW) -- Heavy rainfall and flooding in the Houston area over the Memorial Day weekend affected rail operations, causing widespread delays and outages. On Tuesday, Union Pacific alerted customers that nearly every subdivision of its Southern Region had been impacted, and that it had experienced widespread outages.

It was repairing washouts and expected all repairs to be completed by June 3, but expected it would take several days to work through the backlog of traffic. Customers with freight traversing the Southern Region were told to expect 48- to 72-hour delays on railcar deliveries.--Donna Todd

Rail outages

News for May 28, 2015

World’s largest ethane carrier delivered; will be used to ship US ethane to Europe

HOUSTON, May 28, 2015 (PCW) -- The world’s largest ethane carrier was delivered from Sinopacific Offshore & Engineering’s shipyard in China to Evergas’ headquarters in Copenhagen today.

The vessel is the first in a series of 27,500 cu m Dragon class ships ordered by Evergas and will be chartered by Ineos to ship US ethane from the Mariner East pipeline, which originates in Appalachia and runs to the Marcus Hook terminal in Pennsylvania.

Ineos intends to use the ethane at its crackers in Grangemouth, Scotland, and Rafnes, Norway.

The Dragon ships are 180 m long and 26.6 m wide. They can also carry a variety of natural gas liquids.

Ineos and Evergas had initially agreed to a fleet of six such vessels in 2013, but the next year expanded their agreement to eight ships.--Samantha Hartke

Propane production surpasses ethane again; NGL exports down in March: EIA data

HOUSTON, May 28, 2015 (PCW) -- US propane production continued to outpace that of ethane for the month of March, EIA data showed.

Propane production stood at 34.04 million barrels in March, up from nearly 3 million barrels in February. Ethane stood at 33.52 million barrels in March, an increase of about 3.83 million barrels from February. Propane production has surpassed ethane since the beginning of this year, EIA data shows, which many sources believe to be an offshoot of ethane rejection.

Overall, US natural gas liquids rose about 11.83 million barrels month on month to 98.62 million barrels in March.

US exports of NGLs, however, was down month on month. Overall exports stood at 23.3 million barrels in March, a 5.37 million barrel drop from February.

Propane exports were the hardest hit, down 3.94 million barrels to 14.58 million barrels in March. Butane exports, however, increased around 1 million barrels in March to 2.63 million barrels. Exports of natural gasoline --- described as pentanes plus in the EIA data --- also took a tumble, falling 2.13 million barrels to about 4.11 million barrels in March. --Samantha Hartke

Marathon’s Galveston Bay FCC 1 restarting: TCEQ filing

HOUSTON, May 28, 2015 (PCW) --- Blanchard Refining, a subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum, said it is restarting its fluid catalytic cracking unit 1 between today and June 4, according to a TCEQ filing.

“Start Up procedures will be followed which include minimizing emissions as much as pratical during the startup process,” the filing stated.

The refinery has a capacity of 451,000 b/d.--Samantha Hartke

Read the entire filing by clicking here.

New Indiana PS recycling plant sourcing scrap from Canada, California

HOUSTON, May 28, 2015 (PCW) -- A new 300,000 square-foot polystyrene recycling plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, a partnership between Plastics Recycling, Inc. (PSI) and Dart Container Corp., is in start-up mode and should be operating by mid-June. The plant will be sourcing post-consumer (PC) scrap from Ontario, Canada, and California, a source close to the operation said Thursday.

The plant, which recently received an air emissions permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, will produce PS repro/pellet from PC/PS scrap collected curbside by MRFs and municipalities. It has a scrap processing capacity of 12,500 tons/year.

The PS pellet will be used at PSI's in-house compounding operations. PSI has existing plants in Indianapolis and Jefferson City, Tennessee. The pellet will also be shipped to compounders and other third parties for the production of plastic spools used as receipt dispensers for cash registers, tape dispensers and other plastic parts and components.

The feed material will be PS in bales delivered via truck, intermodal and rail. It will include items such as foam block packaging blocks, foam beverage cups, take-out food containers, flower pots, yogurt cups, and packaging trays used for meat, fish and poultry.

The new plant includes an optical sorter to isolate contaminates; manual sorting by workers will also be employed.

PSI/Dart hopes eventually to source curbside PS from New York. City. As part of this effort, it is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in April that seeks to overturn New York City's ban on foam foodservice items.--Xavier Cronin

News for May 27, 2015

Maryland plastics recycling plant start-up is said set for October

HOUSTON, May 27, 2015 (PCW) -- A new plastics recycling plant in the Baltimore suburb of Dundalk, Maryland, is set to start up in October, a source close to the project said.

The plant, a partnership of QRS Recycling and Canusa-Hershman Recycling, will accept about 4,500 tons/month of post-consumer, pre-sorted numbers 1-7 plastic scrap. It will produce regrind resins and reprocessed scrap bales for sale in the US. No exports are expected.

The plant will accept bales from MRFs and "reclaimers" via truck and inter-modal from the US Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the source said. Reclaimers process scrap plastic in their production process and in doing so create residual scrap plastic which in turn is baled and recycled.

Numbers 1-7 designate the major plastic resin categories of PET, HDPE, Vinyl (PVC), LDPE, PP, PS and "other". Under PS, the plant will not accept expanded PS (EPS) scrap and although it will accept PET bales it will not produce rPET flake, the source said.

The plant was originally planned for the Sparrows Point Terminal in Baltimore County.The site was moved to Dundalk due to "complications" with getting the plant built at Sparrows Point, the source said. It will employ about 55 people.--Xavier Cronin

News for May 26, 2015

Enterprise’s West Texas Frac II to undergo maintenance: TCEQ

HOUSTON, May 26, 2015 (PCW) --- Enterprise Products Partners will conduct scheduled maintenance at its West Texas Frac II at Mont Belvieu today through May 29, according to a TCEQ filing.

West Texas Frac I and II have a combined capacity of 115,000 b/d.--Samantha Hartke

Read the entire filing by clicking here.

Butane spot prices near 7-year lows, more bearishness expected

HOUSTON, May 26, 2015 (PCW) -- Normal butane spot prices closed at 55.5 cpg on May 22, marking almost a seven-year low, as slackening gasoline blending demand, high inventories, and weaker crude and propane pricing combined to push prices lower.

The last time butane prices were this low was December 5, 2008, when it was pegged at 51.5 cpg, PetroChem Wire prices show.

This low water mark comes at a time when butane’s cash cost to produce ethylene continues to be the most competitive in the NGL feed slate. On Friday, butane’s cash cost came in at 1.72 cpp. But the ability for US crackers to capitalize on this cheaper feedstock is fairly limited. Genscape’s Cracker Model shows that given current infrastructure, butane cracking could reach 200,000 bbl/d with high cracking rates. In Q1, Genscape estimates butane cracking was around 140,000 bbl/d, up 35,000 bbl/d versus a year ago. Recently, however, propane’s cash cost’s premium over butane has narrowed considerably to a point where, on Friday, propane’s cash cost was only 0.72 cpp higher than butane’s, threatening to decrease petrochemical producers’ demand for butane.

Exports, another means of butane demand, have been increasing, thanks to a rise in LPG export capacity. EIA’s most recent data shows butane exports at 1.622 million barrels in February, up 115% from a year ago. During the same time frame, ethane exports went from 676 million barrels to 1.989 million barrels, more than doubling. Propane exports went from 9.571 million barrels to 18.52 million barrels in February, a 93% uptick. Despite higher exports and cracker demand, the EIA reported February butane inventories at 20.8 million barrels, up 4.15 million barrels from a year ago.

Only a few weeks into the official start of the summer gasoline blending season, market players expect butane prices to come under further pressure going forward. In the summer, less butane is blended into gasoline, and ahead of that seasonal demand dip, butane prices are already sinking to multi-year lows as motor gasoline stocks stand at all-time highs for this time of year.--Samantha Hartke

News for May 22, 2015

Octal Ohio PET recycling plant said returning to operation

HOUSTON, May 22, 2015 (PCW) -- Octal Extrusion's new PET recycling plant in West Chester, Ohio, is working through some "difficulties" but has been operating for about two months, a source close to the operation said today.

The plant is recycling post-industrial rPET regrind received via truck and producing rPET food-grade sheet regrind for redistribution to Octal customers. Octal Extrusions parent company, Octal, is a PET producer based in Oman. It received a permit to operate the plant last September.

The plant cost an estimated $10 million to build and is housed in a 130,000 square-foot facility north of Cincinnati.--Xavier Cronin

Dow’s St. Charles, Louisiana, SCO-1 unit restarted

HOUSTON, May 22, 2015 (PCW) -- Dow’s St Charles, Louisiana, SCO-1 cracker has been restarted, the company said today.

The 1.3 billion lbs/year cracker went down on March 24 for a planned turnaround.--Samantha Hartke

US PET feedstock prices up 2 cents per pound on higher paraxylene costs

HOUSTON, May 22, 2015 (PCW) -- US prices for PTA and MEG, feedstocks for PET production, are up 2 cpp this week from early May. Spot PTA is at 47 cpp and MEG at 48 cpp, both delivered east of the Rockies, market reporting shows. Higher paraxylene costs are cited as the major reason for the price increases.

Deliveries of PTA from BP's Cooper River plant in South Carolina are said to be at normal allocations. They have been disrupted from time to time since last August when a fire at Cooper River destroyed one of two PTA production units. Cooper River is the largest supplier of PTA to US PET producers.--Xavier Cronin

Williams’ Geismar cracker down since May 21 after lightning strike, power outage

HOUSTON, May 22, 2015 (PCW) --- Williams’ Geismar cracker went down May 21 due to a lightning strike that caused a power outage at the facility.

Williams had no further details about the 2.06 billion lb/year cracker’s return to service.

The cracker returned to service in mid-February after a prolonged shutdown after a fatal explosion in 2013. The facility also underwent a capacity expansion recently.--Samantha Hartke

News for May 21, 2015

CP Chem returning Cedar Bayou normal alpha olefins units to service: TCEQ

HOUSTON, May 21, 2015 (PCW) – Chevron Phillips is returning its normal alpha olefins units NAO-1798 and NAO-1797 between Thursday and Sunday, according to two TCEQ filings.

“NAO-1798 will follow start-up procedures which include minimization of flaring,” one of the filings stated.

Both units went down for turnarounds April 10.--Samantha Hartke

Read both TCEQ filings by clicking here and here:

CP Chem’s Sweeny-22 ethylene unit returning to service: TCEQ

HOUSTON, May 21, 2015 (PCW) – Chevron Phillips is returning its Sweeny-22 ethylene unit to service between Thursday and Monday, according to a TCEQ filing.

“Ethylene Unit 22 will be returned to service following an outage to allow maintenance to be performed on the gas-fired turbine,” the filing stated.

The unit has a nameplate capacity of 600 million lbs/year. It shut down May 17.--Samantha Hartke

Read the entire TCEQ filing by clicking here.

News for May 20, 2015

US Propylene (nonfuel use) inventories climb close to a record

HOUSTON, May 20, 2015 (PCW) -- US propylene stocks for nonfuel use, rose to 5.337 million bbl during the week ended May 15, up 8.1 percent from the previous week and the highest level in more than three years, the US Energy Department reported today. Supplies reached 5.633 million bbl on Jan 6, 2012, the most since the department's Energy Information Administration began keeping records in 2003.

Stockpiles climbed 1.604 million bbl, or 43 percent, from a year earlier, according to the department's report.--David Barry

For more on propylene inventories, click here.

US PVC scrap exports to China dropped 38% in First Quarter

HOUSTON, May 20, 2015 (PCW) –US exports of PVC scrap to China were down 38%, or 16,725 metric tons, in the first quarter of 2015 from Q1 2014, USA Trade Online data show.

China in recent years has been by far the largest destination for US PVC and other plastic scrap exports. In 2014, US PVC scrap exports to China accounted for 56.6%, or 142,229 mt, of total PVC exports. PVC scrap includes rigid, flexible and foam forms.

In 2013, China's so-called "Operation Green Fence" pollution-control policy was said to have slowed total US scrap plastic exports to China, but this was not the case for scrap PVC. In 2013, the US exported 142,480 mt of PVC scrap to China, up by 4,845 MT or 3.5% from 2012. US "other" plastic scrap exports to China in 2013 totaled 359,594 mt, down 24.7% from 477,994 MT in 2012.

USA Trade Online is part of the US Census Bureau, itself part of the US Commerce Department. --Xavier Cronin

ExxonMobil’s Beaumont plant’s compressor trip impacts production: TCEQ

HOUSTON, May 20, 2015 (PCW) – ExxonMobil’s Beaumont ethylene plant experienced a compressor trip Tuesday morning, according to a TCEQ filing.

Exxon expects an impact to production although “all contractual commitments are anticipated to be met,” the filing stated.

The plant has a capacity of 1.8 billion lb/year.--Samantha Hartke

Read the entire filing by clicking here:

News for May 19, 2015

Stranded western Canadian propane causing low prices, record inventories: NEB

HOUSTON, May 19, 2015 (PCW) -- Stranded propane supplies in western Canada has led to record low propane prices and extremely high inventory levels, the National Energy Board said Tuesday.

Since the Cochin pipeline stopped moving propane in April 2014, volumes of been unable to access higher-priced markets in the east, Midwest and Gulf Coast. The result has been record high inventories of propane in Western Canada since December and low prices at the Edmonton/Fort Saskatchewan pricing hub, the NEB said.

As of mid-May, wholesale propane prices at Sarnia, Ontario, has been around 56 cpg, while wholesale prices at Edmonton traded around 3 cpg during the same time frame.

Additionally, as of May 1, total propane inventories in western Canada stood at 4.4 million barrels. If injection rates over the summer remain higher than historical norms, propane inventories could come close to the estimated working storage capacity of 9.4 million barrels by autumn, the NEB said.

Options for the movement of propane via pipeline outside of Western Canada are now limited to the Enbridge Mainline, which flows Y-grade to Sarnia. Currently, the bulk of propane leaves western Canada via rail. The development of two new rail terminals should ease the pressure of swelling inventories, the NEB said.

Keyera’s 40,000 bbl/d Josephburg terminal is scheduled to start up in the middle of the year mid-2015. Meanwhile, the first phase of Plains Midstream’s Fort Saskathchewan terminal has a capacity of 45,000 bbl/d, but its in-service is not certain. --Samantha Hartke

NuStar, CHS to expand Upper Midwest propane pipeline, terminal network by Q4

HOUSTON, May 19, 2015 (PCW) -- NuStar Energy and CHS are developing an expanded pipeline and terminal network that will increase the propane capacity in the Upper Midwest by the fourth quarter of this year, the two companies said Tuesday.

The projects under development include construction of an eight-mile, eight-inch pipeline at NuStar’s Conway, Kansas, facility, which is near the southern end of NuStar’s East Refined Products Pipeline System. The new pipeline and modifications to the facility will allow for increased propane supply from Conway to propane terminals on the system.

NuStar will also expand its underutilized Rock Rapids, Iowa, terminal to include propane services. This terminal expansion will also allow CHS to better supply the region with propane.

CHS is a farmer-owned cooperative and global energy, grains and foods business and a regional propane supplier.--Samantha Hartke

US Housing starts surge to eight-year high in April; PVC demand steady

HOUSTON, May 19, 2015 (PCW) --Builders started 1.14 million homes in April at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, up 20.2% from March. That's the highest level since November 2007. Economists had predicted a rise to 1.02 million. March's total housing starts were revised to 944,000 from 926,000.

PVC pipe manufacturers did not report a similar upswing in their demand during the month of April, and are still describing their demand as lower that what they expected.

One factor that could explain the disconnect is that the US government defines a housing starts as “as the beginning of excavation for the structure”, a point at which no construction materials are required.

Harsh winter weather slowed housing construction earlier this year, especially in the Northeast and Midwest. In April, the pace of building jumped 86% in the Northeast, 28% in the Midwest and 39% in the West. It dipped 1.8% in the South.

Applications for permits, an indication of future housing starts, increased 10.1% to 1.14 million.

Economists expect the market to gain momentum throughout the year, if gradually, with starts edging up slightly from last year's total of just over 1 million. That was the best showing since the recession, but well below the historical average of 1.5 million.

Mortgage rates remain low and job growth has been strong. But credit is still tight, especially for first-time homebuyers.--Donna Todd

New Texas law prohibits cities from banning fracking, drilling

HOUSTON, May 19, 2015 (PCW) -- Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law a prohibition on cities and towns imposing local ordinances preventing fracking and other oil and natural gas activities.

The measure sailed through the GOP-controlled Legislature after voters in Denton, a university town near Dallas, banned hydraulic fracturing locally in Nov.

The new law limits not only the Denton ban, but other actions communities could take limiting energy industry activities. It was backed by oil and gas concerns.

Abbott said Monday he was protecting private property rights from the "heavy hand of local regulation."--Donna Todd

News for May 18, 2015

Decision to impose dumping duties on US PET imports delayed

HOUSTON, May 18, 2015 (PCW) -- A decision on whether antidumping duties will be imposed on US PET imports from Oman, India and China has been delayed from early June to August 11 at the request of at least one of the defendants in the complaint, a US Commerce official said Monday. A similar decision regarding US PET imports from Canada is still expected in mid-August.

Three US PET producers--M&G Chemicals, Dak Americas and Nan Ya Plastics--filed an antidumping complaint in March against US imports of packaging-grade PET from Oman, India, China and Canada. They alleged the imports had been dumped in the US from 2012-2014. The four countries in 2014 accounted for about 56% of all US packaging-grade PET imports.

In April the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that the imports had sold in the US at “less than fair value” and "injured" the US producers. In the case of India, China and Oman, the ITC also ruled that the governments of these countries subsidized production of the PET sold in the US in 2012-2014.

Now, the US Commerce Department's International Trade Administration (ITA) is investigating if "preliminary" antidumping duties will be imposed on imports from the four countries. The ITC is an independent US government agency that works with the ITA in dumping cases.

If duties are imposed, they will be a percentage of the estimated value of the cargo and will be paid as cash bonds posted with US Customs. --Xavier Cronin

Smokers cited in fire that destroyed Ohio plastics recycler

HOUSTON, May 18, 2015 (PCW) -- A plastics recycling plant in Ohio was destroyed by a fire started from "discarded smoking materials," the department investigating the fire said Monday. The facility of Phoenix Recycling of Columbus, Ohio, was destroyed on May 1 by a fire that began behind a loading dock that received cardboard and other recyclables, according to the City of Columbus Division of Fire.

Phoenix recycles and toll-converts HIPS, GPPS, PP, HDPE, LDPE, PET, Nylon and other plastic scrap.

“Several employees who work in this area were honest when speaking with investigators and reported that, in direct violation of company policy, they had been smoking in this area just prior to the fire’s discovery,” said Columbus Division of Fire Captain Jeff Martin.

No one was hurt in the fire. About 100 people were working at the facility when the fire started.

Phoenix is trying to continue operations despite the facility being destroyed, a person with the company said Monday. "We're trying our best to get back on our feet," she said, without elaborating. --Xavier Cronin

Propylene production issues have minimal impact on propane pricing

This week, Pinnacle Polymers declared force majeure at its Garyville, Louisiana, polypropylene plant because of its suppliers’ feedstock issues. Pinnacle’s major supplier of propylene is the nearby Marathon refinery.

Propylene production issues currently have minimal impact on propane pricing --- one of the building blocks of this olefin – which is more influenced by the movements of crude oil and the drop-off in seasonal heating demand. Propane’s primary source of demand remains as a source of fuel for heating, followed by petrochemical demand.

The mixed propane price responses to various cracker outages in recent months demonstrate this minimal price sensitivity. For instance, propane demand loss from cracker outages spiked to about 77,000 bbl/d between February 9 and 20, according to Genscape estimates. During that time Dow’s 2.26 billion lbs/year Freeport cracker was offline, as was Chevron Phillips 1.84 billion lbs/yr Cedar Bayou Unit and Shell’s 800 million lbs/yr OP-2 at Deer Park. Spot propane went from 56 cpg on February 9 to 59.25 cpg February 20, a 5.8% increase, echoing a similar rise in crude prices.

From December 1-19, propane demand loss increased to 67,000 bbl/d, Genscape estimates show, as Dow’s 2.295 billion lb/yr Freeport TX-unit began a turnaround, as did Flint Hill Resources’ 1.45 billion lbs/yr propane dehydrogenation plant. During this time, the propane price went from 68 cpg December 1 to 56.75 cpg December 19, a 16.5% decrease. Crude took a tumble during this period as well.

With several PDH units coming online going forward, propane prices might exhibit greater sensitivity from increased demand from this sector. Dow’s Freeport PDH is expected online in the second half of this year, followed by Enterprise Products’ PDH in late 2016.

Formosa, Sunoco Logistics, REXtac and Ascend have also proposed PDH units. All told, 8.36 billion lbs/yr of PDH capacity has been proposed, translating into over 150,000 bbl/d of propane demand. However, exports and heating will remain propane’s primary uses.--Samantha Hartke

Targa’s Cedar Bayou fractionator has power interruption: TCEQ

HOUSTON, MAY 18, 2015 (PCW) -- Targa’s Cedar Bayou fractionator had a power interruption Saturday night and came back online Sunday afternoon, according to a TCEQ filing.

The facility has a total capacity of 393,000 b/d. --Samantha Hartke

Read the TCEQ filing by clicking here.

Chevron Phillips’ Sweeny-22 cracker shut down: TCEQ

HOUSTON, MAY 18, 2015 (PCW) -- Chevron Phillips took its Sweeny 22 cracker down for a planned turnaround May 16, according to a TCEQ filing.

The cracker has a capacity of 600 million lb/year.

The filing showed the emissions event would end May 20.--Samantha Hartke

Read the TCEQ filing by clicking here.

News for May 15, 2015

ACC says shale gas creating renaissance in US plastics manufacturing

Houston, May 15, 2015 (PCW) -- The American Chemistry Council (ACC) released a new report that forecasts US jobs related to plastics manufacturing are expected to grow by 462,000—more than 20%—over the next decade, reaching more than 2.7 million. The increase is due to chemical companies bringing new production online to take advantage of cheaper energy.

The report shows when the ratio of Brent crude oil prices to natural gas prices is higher than seven, it implies improved competitiveness for US-based producers compared with foreign competitors. European and Asian producers use naphtha as feedstock to make plastic resins, while the US uses ethane.

During 1Q 2015, the ratio of oil-to-natural gas prices was above 15.

Also helping US companies become more competitive are rising overseas wages, higher transportation costs and supply chain concerns.

The report forecasts the peak investment will occur in 2018. “These are not turnkey projects,” said Martha Moore, senior director of policy analysis and economics at the ACC. The group’s forecast is based on announced projects since 2010.

The report indicates the plastics industry will directly generate 127,500 new jobs over a decade. It also forecasts 173,000 indirect jobs, from suppliers, and 161,000 jobs due to the pay of the new factory employees filtering into local communities. Though sizeable numbers, it is a small portion of the approximately 16 million jobs the US Labor Department projects will be created nationwide over a decade.

Steve Russell, vice president of plastics, said the group didn’t factor in the recent rise in the US dollar, but he said he didn’t expect that to make a significant difference. “Our largest trading markets for shale- derived resins are in Asia and Latin America, there’s less trade with Europe,” he said. “It’s not something we would expect to have a significant impact on investment, jobs and trade.”

About half of the incremental plastic resin production is expected to be exported, with the remaining half available to the domestic plastic products industry, the ACC forecasts. --Donna Todd

News for May 14, 2015

Williams to Buy Williams Partners for $13.8 billion in stock

HOUSTON, May 14, 2015 (PCW) -- Williams Cos. agreed to buy the 40% of Williams Partners LP it doesn’t already own for $13.8 billion, simplifying its corporate structure in a bid to reduce taxes, increase payouts and accumulate cash for expansion.

Holders of Williams Partners, the pipeline company that handles about 30% of US natural gas supply, will receive 1.115 Williams shares for each unit, the company said in a statement Wednesday. The all-stock offer, Williams’ biggest acquisition, represents an 18% premium based on Tuesday’s closing prices and is expected to close in 3Q 2015.

“The lower cost of capital and improved tax benefits expected from this transaction increase our confidence in extending the duration of our expected 10-15% dividend growth rate through 2020,” Williams Chief Executive Officer Alan Armstrong said in the statement.

Williams Partners owns or operates more than 33,000 miles (53,000 kilometers) of natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines. Williams first sold units in the partnership to the public in 2005. --Donna Todd

Cheniere Energy Commences Work on First Two Liquefaction Trains at Corpus Christi

HOUSTON, May 14, 2015 (PCW) -- Cheniere Energy, Inc. announced Wednesday that its Board of Directors has made a positive final investment decision with respect to its CCL liquefaction project near Corpus Christi, Texas, and has issued a notice to Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals, Inc. to construct the first two natural gas liquefaction trains.

The CCL Project is designed for up to three trains with expected aggregate nominal production capacity of approximately 13.5 million mt/yr, three LNG storage tanks with capacity of approximately 10.1 Bcfe, two LNG carrier docks and a 22-mile, 48-inch natural gas supply pipeline. The first train is expected to start operations as early as 2018, with the second train expected to commence operations approximately six to nine months thereafter.

"We have initiated construction on our second LNG export facility, the Corpus Christi liquefaction project, located on the Coastal Bend of Texas along the Gulf of Mexico," said Charif Souki, Chairman and CEO of Cheniere. "Including our LNG export facility at Sabine Pass, we now have six trains under construction, with first LNG expected at Sabine Pass from Train 1 by year end."

Total project costs of approximately $11.5 billion for the first two trains, two LNG storage tanks, one dock and the natural gas supply pipeline will be funded with approximately $3.1 billion of project equity and approximately $8.4 billion of debt.

The U.S. Energy Department said on May 12 that it has given final approval for Cheniere to export liquefied natural gas from its plant in Corpus Christi.

News for May 13, 2015

Mexichem Opens New Pipe Plant in India

HOUSTON, May 13, 2015 (PCW) -- Mexichem, S.A.B. de C.V. announced Tuesday that one of its subsidiaries, Dura-Line Corporation, has commenced production at a new plant in Hyderabad, India.

The new plant will produce cable ducts and pressure pipe for the water, datacom and gas markets. The new plant is Mexichem’s fourth in India, with two other facilities located in Goa, and another in Neemrana, near Dehli.

The location of the Hyderabad plant in South India will allow Mexichem to strategically position itself for exports to Southeast Asia, to serve customers in South India and to capture new business opportunities in the region.

California resin producer Ecoplast now operates as Envision

HOUSTON, May 12, 2015 (PCW)--Resin producer Ecoplast will now operate under the Envision Plastics name, the companies' parent Consolidated Container Co (CCC) said Tuesday. Ecoplast is based in Fontana, Calif., and produces custom-compounded and recycled HDPE, LDPE, LLDPE, PP, PS, and ABS. Envision, with plants in Reidsville, North Carolina, and Chino, CalifORNIA, recycles HDPE scrap containers into repro pellets.

CCC has named Envision vice-president of sales, Tamsin Ettefagh, to the additional position of VP of sales for Ecoplast's product line. It also named Mark Shafer as VP and general manager for the now-combined Envision Plastics business.

CCC, which is based in Atlanta, operates 56 manufacturing plants. It acquired Ecoplast and Envision in June 2014.

News for May 12, 2015

rPET producer Phoenix adding wash line for scrap bales

HOUSTON, May 12, 2015 (PCW) -- rPET repro producer Phoenix Technologies is building a new wash line at its Bowling Green, Ohio, plant, the company said Tuesday. The new line will be operating in three to four months and produce about 50 million lb/year of clean rPET flake (or regrind). Feedstock will mostly be PET scrap bales from curbside collection, with some "dirty" flake also fed into the line.

The new line will allow Phoenix to produce its own clean flake rather than rely on third parties to toll-convert bales into flake. Clean flake is essential to Phoenix's production of rPET repro, whch is sold to customers who manufacture packaging for beverage, food, personal care and household cleaners.

The new line's cost is about $18 million and will result in 30 new jobs.

Evangeline pipeline could return to service mid-June: Boardwalk

HOUSTON, May 12, 2015 (PCW) -- Boardwalk Pipeline said Tuesday the Evangeline ethylene pipeline could return to service as early as mid-June.

“Assuming the analysis of the recent tool runs and the repairs go as planned, we could place the pipeline back into service as early as the middle of June,” Boardwalk said. “This date is obviously subject to several factors including no significant issues from remaining tool reports and receiving final approval from PHMSA.”

Boardwalk in its earnings call a few weeks ago said Evangeline would return to service by the end of June.

The 2.6 billion lbs/year pipeline was acquired by Boardwalk from Chevron last September. The pipeline was shut down in October after a leak was discovered. It was brought back online last December, but then shuttered again in January with the discovery of another leak.

The outage has widened the premium of Louisiana prices over Texas ethylene prices.

FHR shuts Port Arthur olefins unit after steam leak: TCEQ

HOUSTON, May 12, 2015 (PCW) -- Flint Hills Resources reported Monday it had minimized production rates and then shut down its light olefins unit at its Port Arthur facility after it discovered a “high pressure steam leak,” according to a TCEQ filing.

“Upon discovery of the leak, FHR evaluated the leak and determined that there were no viable on-line repair options. In order to minimize flaring emissions and safely complete the maintenance activity, FHR will bring the LOU to minimum production rates prior to shutting down and de-pressurizing equipment,” the filing states.

Flint Hills will bring the unit back online once the maintenance has been completed, which is estimated at May 18, the filing states.

Flint Hills’ has nameplate capacity of 1.35 billion lbs/year at Port Arthur.

The filing can be found by clicking here.

News for May 11, 2015

Ethane rejection on the rise; could change course with improving frac spreads

Recent EIA data has shown ethane production falling behind propane for consecutive months, which last week provided additional support for spot ethane prices. However, this lagging data does not portray the current state of ethane production economics.

This slump in EIA ethane production data purported the idea that ethane rejection had been increasing (EIA’s most recent data was for February), meaning less ethane coming to market and potentially providing support to pricing.

Ethane rejection --- where the NGL is left in the natural gas stream --- is a phenomenon increasingly discussed by companies in the upstream and midstream space as overall NGL production has boomed in the US, thanks to shale.

One of the main reasons for ethane rejection is that the value of ethane is lower than that of natural gas, making it economically unfeasible to bring to market. In some production areas, such as the Marcellus and Utica shales, the lack of sufficient NGL pipeline capacity to move ethane --- which can only be transported via pipeline over land --- forced producers to reject the lightest of the NGL products.

Ethane rejection has increased at a rapid clip from 230,000 bbl/d in January 2013 to 497,000 bbl/d in April, as per Genscape data, a 116% increase.

One of the reasons for this increase in rejection levels is that the lack of demand takeaway capacity has impacted the ethane frac spread, which is the price differential between ethane and natural gas. This spread has largely been in negative territory, making it uneconomical to recover the NGL. On May 1, the ethane frac spread --- the differential between Mont Belvieu ethane and NYMEX natural gas --- came in at minus 5 cents/mmBtu, according to PCW.

The slight uptick in the frac spread, however, could indicate less rejection going forward. Moreover, in the near future more ethane pipeline and export capacity is coming online, such as Mariner East and the Morgan’s Point terminal, with offtake agreements secured from European and Asian petchems companies.

News for May 8, 2015

Propylene production issues have minimal impact on propane pricing

This week, Pinnacle Polymers declared force majeure at its Garyville, Louisiana, polypropylene plant because of its suppliers’ feedstock issues. Pinnacle’s major supplier of propylene is the nearby Marathon refinery.

Propylene production issues currently have minimal impact on propane pricing --- one of the building blocks of this olefin – which is more influenced by the movements of crude oil and the drop-off in seasonal heating demand. Propane’s primary source of demand remains as a source of fuel for heating, followed by petrochemical demand.

The mixed propane price responses to various cracker outages in recent months demonstrate this minimal price sensitivity. For instance, propane demand loss from cracker outages spiked to about 77,000 bbl/d between February 9 and 20, according to Genscape estimates. During that time Dow’s 2.26 billion lbs/year Freeport cracker was offline, as was Chevron Phillips 1.84 billion lbs/yr Cedar Bayou Unit and Shell’s 800 million lbs/yr OP-2 at Deer Park. Spot propane went from 56 cpg on February 9 to 59.25 cpg February 20, a 5.8% increase, echoing a similar rise in crude prices.

From December 1-19, propane demand loss increased to 67,000 bbl/d, Genscape estimates show, as Dow’s 2.295 billion lb/yr Freeport TX-unit began a turnaround, as did Flint Hill Resources’ 1.45 billion lbs/yr propane dehydrogenation plant. During this time, the propane price went from 68 cpg December 1 to 56.75 cpg December 19, a 16.5% decrease. Crude took a tumble during this period as well.

With several PDH units coming online going forward, propane prices might exhibit greater sensitivity from increased demand from this sector. Dow’s Freeport PDH is expected online in the second half of this year, followed by Enterprise Products’ PDH in late 2016.

Formosa, Sunoco Logistics, REXtac and Ascend have also proposed PDH units. All told, 8.36 billion lbs/yr of PDH capacity has been proposed, translating into over 150,000 bbl/d of propane demand. However, exports and heating will remain propane’s primary uses.

US PET imports climb 21% in Q1; Anti-dumping duty looms

Houston, May 8, 2015 (PCW) -- US imports of packaging-grade PET rose 20.9 %, or by 27,556 metric tons, in the first quarter 2015 over Q1 2014, USA Trade Online data show. In January-March of 2015 imports totaled 159,525 MT, compared to 131,969 MT in Q1 2014.

Data show PET imports from Oman in Q1 2015 surged by 88% over Q1 2014, at 17,672 MT versus 9,378 MT. Imports from Canada were up 12% in Q1 2015 reaching 39,181 MT versus 34,997 MT in Q1 2014. US PET imports from Indiaplunged by 60.8% in Q1 2015 to 7,240 MT versus 18,479 MT in Q1 2014, and imports from China fell 4.8% to 18,678 MT from 19,608 MT.

An antidumping complaint was filed on March 10 by three US PET producers. It led to findings by the US International Trade Commission that PET from the four countries had been sold in the US at "less-than-fair value" in 2012-2014.

Duties are scheduled to be imposed by June 3 on PET imports from China, India and Oman and by Aug 17 on PET imports from Canada. The four countries in 2014 accounted for 56% of all US PET imports, or 329,000 metric tons, valued at $433.9 million.

Trex Names James E. Cline President and CEO

Houston, May 8 2015 (PCW)--Trex Company, Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing products, has named James E. Cline, currently senior vice president and chief financial officer, as president and chief executive officer effective August 17, 2015 upon retirement of Ronald W. Kaplan.

Cline will also join the Trex board of directors. Kaplan will continue as chairman. Bryan H. Fairbanks, senior director, supply chain and executive director, international business development, will succeed Cline as CFO. F. Timothy Reese, senior vice-president of operations, will retire.

News for May 7, 2015

Energy Transfer mulling $1.4 billion Marcellus gas gathering, NGL fractionation project

HOUSTON, MAY 7, 2015 (PCW) -- Energy Transfers Partners on Thursday said it was mulling a $1.4 billion natural gas and NGL gathering, processing and fractionation project in the Marcellus Shale.

The Revolution project would bring natural gas to ETP’s proposed Rover pipeline, which would move supplies from Appalachia to Ohio by mid- to end 2016, and then to the Dawn, Ontario, storage hub by mid-2017. The NGLs would be transported via Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East pipeline to the Marcus Hook terminal in Pennsylvania, for potential export.

The company said it has secured capacity for the Revolution project on both Rover and Mariner East. ETP expects to release more details on the Revolution project next week.

ETP reported first-quarter earnings of $1.149 billion, down from $1.206 billion a year ago, on lower transported natural gas volumes due to milder weather and decreased production.

Sunoco ‘bullish’ on PDH unit, Mariner East to ship ethane by end of Q3

Houston, May 7, 2015 (PCW) -- Sunoco Logistics continues to see “favorable fundamentals” for a proposed propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit at the Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, complex, though the partnership has not reached a firm decision to move forward, President and CEO Michael Hennigan said Thursday.

“We are still very bullish on the project, but we don’t have a ‘go’ at this point,” Hennigan told a conference call with analysts. “We do know there is an ample supply of propane from the Marcellus Shale and a need for propylene as a result of lighter feeds to petrochemical units in the US and Europe.”

Hennigan said executives “continue to believe that propane will be under pressure, and if that continues we like the fundamentals of the PDH project. … The conversations are progressing positively. We are getting further into the details.” Sunoco Logistics announced plans for the unit in late 2014 to handle a surplus of Marcellus and Utica NGLs but has not announced a proposed size or start-up target date.

Meanwhile, Sunoco Logistics is forging ahead with its aggressive NGL pipeline construction “despite the current commodity price environment,” Hennigan said. It affirmed the Mariner East project would begin shipping ethane to Marcus Hook by the end of the third quarter. It also still expects a year-end 2016 start-up for its Mariner East 2 project in Pennsylvania, bringing total NGL takeaway capacity from the Appalachian Basin to between 400,000 and 550,000 b/d.

Also Thursday, Sunoco Logistics announced it would acquire a 30% stake in the Bakken Pipeline project jointly owned by Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66. The project is expected to provide takeaway capacity of 470,000 bbl/d of crude from North Dakota to key refinery and terminal hubs in the Midwest and Gulf Coast, including Sunoco Logistics’ Nederland export terminal.

Sunoco reported net income for Q1 2015 at $36 million, down from the $107 million during the same quarter a year ago, on lower commodity prices. – Mark Davidson

News for May 6, 2015

Axiall chlor-alkali MLP in question following IRS ruling

Houston, May 6, 2015 (PCW) – Axiall is re-evaluating its proposal of creating a a chlor-alkali master limited partnership after the IRS’ ruling Tuesday that bars chemical manufacturers from forming MLPs.

Earlier this year in its Q4 2014 earnings call, Axiall announced it had been studying the possibility of creating a chlor-alkali MLP “as an opportunity to access low-cost capital and generate shareholder value”, and has filed a ruling request with the IRS to determine if chlor-alkali qualifies.

At the time, Wall Street analysts said that investor appetite was questionable since there are no chlor-alkali MLPs in existence.

Axiall said Wednesday it is now reviewing the IRS’ ruling, but does not yet have an update on its private-letter ruling or the ultimate outcome of the rule-making process.

On Tuesday, the company reported a net loss of $10.6 million, for the first quarter of 2015, compared to a net loss of $11.6 million, for the first quarter of 2014. The slight recovery was due to higher operating rates and lower ethylene and natural gas costs. This, however, was offset by lower caustic and vinyl prices.

MarkWest forges ahead with fractionation projects amid ‘challenging’ market

Houston, May 6, 2015 (PCW) -- Current weakness in the natural gas liquids markets is not deterring MarkWest Energy Partners from forging ahead with a host of midstream projects in the Marcellus and Utica shales, the partnership’s chairman and CEO said today.

MarkWest is on track to complete 11 new facilities in the Appalachian Basin this year with gas processing capacity of 1.5 Bcf/d and NGL fractionation capacity of 80,000 bbl/d, Frank Semple told a conference call with analysts to discuss first-quarter results.

“While we remain in a challenging commodity environment … our goal is to complete these projects on a just-in-time basis,” Semple said. “Our significant growth program continues.”

Specifically, “condensate solutions in the Utica have become increasingly important” as producers ramp up their output of wet gas, he said. MarkWest’s 120,000 b/d of shared condensate capacity at its Hopedale complex in Ohio will be the origination point for Marathon’s future Cornerstone Pipeline, which will move product to Marathon’s refinery in Canton “and to other downstream markets,” he noted.

In the first quarter alone, the Denver-based partnership reported fractionated NGL volumes from the Marcellus and Utica of more than 215,000 b/d, a 68% increase from the first quarter of 2014.

But the soft commodity market took a toll on MarkWest’s first-quarter income. The partnership reported a net loss to unitholders of $9.1 million, reversing a year-earlier net income of $12.5 million. Revenue was down 8.8% year over year. – Mark Davidson

Oxy’s chem segment’s earnings climb on better margins due to lower ethylene, natgas

HOUSTON, May 6, 2015 (PCW) -- Occidental Petroleum reported Wednesday that its chemical segment’s earnings for the first quarter of the year rose to $139 million, compared with $136 million in Q1 2014, a 2.2% increase. This was due to improved product margins from lower ethylene and natural gas costs, which were offset somewhat by lower caustic soda sales volumes.

Overall, Oxy’s income for Q1 2015 was $31 million, compared with $1.1 billion the same time a year ago, due to lower crude prices.

US plastic scrap exports decline 9.5% in first quarter

Houston, May 5, 2015 (PCW) -- US plastic scrap exports were down 9.5 % in the first quarter of 2015 from Q1 2014, USA Trade Online data show. Exports for five categories tracked totaled 454,295 metric tons in Q1 2015 compared to 501,875 MT in Q1 2014. The categories tracked are polyethylene, polystyrene, PVC, PET and "other plastics than PET." The highest volume of exports is "other" plastic, at 37% of the total in Q1 2015, followed by polyethylene scrap, at 33.7% of the total.

China and Hong Kong remain the major destinations for US scrap plastic exports; 73% of all exports went to China and Hong Kong in Q1 2015, or 332,774 MT. Broken down, exports to China were 200,913 MT in Q1 2015, down 22.7% from Q1 2014; exports to Hong Kong totaled 131,861 MT in Q1 2015, up 12% from Q1 2014.

USA Trade Online is a division of the US Census Bureau, itself part of the US Commerce Department.  For more on PetroChem Wire's coverage of recycled plastics, click here.

News for May 5, 2015

Occidental Petroleum names Hollub as new CEO after transition period

Houston, May 5, 2015 (PCW) -– Occidental Petroleum Corp. announced today that its board of directors has approved a CEO succession plan and promoted Vicki A. Hollub to Senior Executive Vice President of Occidental and President of Oxy Oil and Gas, responsible for operations in the United States, Middle East region and Latin America. The board plans for Hollub, who has served as Executive Vice President of Occidental and President, Oxy Oil and Gas Americas, since 2014, to succeed Stephen I. Chazen as CEO of Occidental after a thorough transition period.

Hollub has nearly 35 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, holding a variety of technical and leadership roles, both domestic and international. In 2013, Hollub was appointed Vice President of Occidental Petroleum Corporationand Executive Vice President, U.S. Operations, Oxy Oil and Gas. She previously served as Executive Vice President, California Operations; and President and General Manager,Permian Basin operations.

Hollub holds a Bachelor of Science in Mineral Engineering from the University of Alabama. She began her career in 1981 with Cities Service, which was acquired by Occidental in 1982.

IRS proposes new rules on MLPs; says no to chemical makers

Houston, May 5, 2015 (PCW) -– The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has proposed new rules that would bar chemical manufacturers from forming Master Limited Partnerships, but would allow many energy-related companies to use the structure to raise money.

Pipeline operators and other energy logistics firms have long structured themselves as MLPs to raise capital. Newer partnerships, such as those that find and extract oil and natural gas or refine it into fuel would also still be allowed, as would many oilfield services providers that haul, treat, recycle or store wastewater from oil and gas wells.

But, the IRS says petrochemical production does not qualify unless it is part of a larger refining operation, nor does production of timber products such as wood pulp or paper. Processing or refining does not include activities that cause a substantial physical or chemical change in a mineral or natural resource, or that transform the extracted mineral or natural resource into new or different mineral products, including manufactured products. The production of plastics and similar petroleum derivatives does not give rise to qualifying income derived from processing or refining, the agency said.

Westlake Chemicals’ stock fell more than 5% today on the news.

Targa finds ethane export offtake agreements challenging; 5th fractionator on track

Houston, May 5, 2015 (PCW) -– Targa is finding it challenging to sign offtake agreements for its proposed ethane export terminal on the Houston Ship Channel due to the lower price environment, company officials said Tuesday.

Targa’s LPG exports in general are expected to be lower this year compared to H2 2014 because of “more challenging market dynamics, issues with ship availability and high vessel freight cost impacting our customers and other international buyers,” said Joe Bob Perkins, Targa’s CEO.

Meanwhile, the company said its 100,000 bbl/d Train 5 fractionator at Mont Belvieu is expected to be operational my mid-2016.

Targa has applied for the necessary permits for Train 6 and have already passed the first public notice period. It is likely to have capacity of 100,000 bbl/d. Although the company does not have a timeline for when Train 6 might be built or go into service, Perkins said, “it’s a matter of when, not if, we will need additional fractionation at Mont Belvieu.”

Targa said it is expecting a decision on projects, such as 35,000 bbl/d condensate splitter at Channelview or a new terminal at its Patriot facility, from Noble Group, its partner in these ventures by the end of this year.

Targa reported Q1 net income of $71.6 million, compared to $122.4 million the same time a year ago, on lower commodity prices.

Indianapolis PS recycling plant expected to start in about two weeks

Houston, May 5, 2015 (PCW) -- A 25 million lb/year polystyrene recycling plant, a partnership between Dart Container Corporation and Plastics Recycling Inc. (PRI), is set to start up in Indianapolis, Indiana in about two weeks, a source close to the plant said Tuesday. PRI, which already operates a plastics recycling plant in Indianapolis, will operate the new plant. Dart's "washing technology" will be used.

Construction is complete but PRI is waiting for an air permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (DEP). The permit is expected to be issued in about two weeks. No DEP officials were available for comment as Tuesday is a state holiday in Indiana.

The plant will produce PS repro and regrind from dirty post-consumer expanded polystyrene (EPS) collected curbside. This includes coffee cups, take-out containers and packaging blocks. It will also recycle "rigid" PS recyclables.

News for May 4, 2015

Energy Transfer to build fourth fractionator at Mont Belvieu

HOUSTON, May 4, 2015 (PCW) -- Energy Transfer Partners said Monday its Lone Star NGL subsidiary would build a fourth fractionator at Mont Belvieu to come online in December 2016.

The 120,000 bbl/d would cost $450 million is s fully subscribed by several long-term contracts and will provide off-take for the new 533-mile, 24- and 30-inch Lone Star Express Pipeline. The pipeline, which is under construction, has a capacity of 475,000 bbl/d and will move NGLs from the Delaware and Midland basins to Mont Belvieu. Phase I and II of the pipeline are on schedule for completion in the second quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2016, respectively, ETP said.

Lone Star’s third Mont Belvieu fractionation facility, also under construction, is on track for completion in January.

M&G Altamira PET plant in Mexico restarts after maintenance shutdown

M&G Chemical’s 590,000 metric-ton-year polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plant in Altamira Mexico has restarted after a 10-day maintenance shutdown, a company spokesperson confirmed Monday. The spokesperson was unable to provide exact dates of the turnaround, but market sources said the plant went down in April. Most of the PET produced at M&G’s Altamira plant is targeted to US end-users and consumed in the manufacture of bottles, sheet and film.

M&G expects the PET plant it is building in Corpus Christi, Texas, to startup in early 2016. Its production capacity is planned at 1.1 million MT/year of PET, with most output also targeted to US end-users. M&G is part of chemical producer the Mossi Ghisolfi Group, based in Tortona, Italy.

Westlake earnings drop; Petro 1 expansion set for H1 2016 completion (Update1)

HOUSTON, May 4, 2015 (PCW) -- Westlake Chemical on Monday reported net income for the first quarter of 2015 of $146.3 million, down $11.7 million or 7.4% from the $158.0 million reported in Q1 2014. The decrease was due to lower olefins margins and sales price because of the collapsing crude oil price.

The company said its planned expansion of its Olefins Petro 1 ethylene unit at Lake Charles, Louisiana, which will add 250 million lbs/year of capacity, is on track to be completed in the first half of 2016.

Westlake expects to have several planned turnarounds in Q2 2015; polyethylene turnarounds in Longview, Texas, and Lake Charles, and PVC plant turnarounds at Cologne and Knapsack in Germany. The Lake Charles Petro 1 cracker turnaround is planned for Q1 2016.

Offsetting lower sales prices for Westlake’s major products was sales from its specialty PVC resin business Vinnolit, which it acquired last July.

Westlake said operations income in the quarter benefited from improved vinyls integrated product margins, mainly as a result of using ethane at its Calvert City, Kentucky, ethylene plant following the completion of a feedstock conversion and ethylene expansion project, improved production rates at the Geismar chlor-alkali plant and Vinnolit’s contribution.

Evangeline ethylene pipe on track for end-June restart: Boardwalk

Houston, May 4, 2015 (PCW) -- The Evangeline ethylene pipeline along the Gulf Coast, which has been shut down since early January, is on track to resume service by the end of June, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners said Monday.

Crews are currently performing in-line testing and inspections and making repairs “designed to improve the integrity of the pipeline,” CEO Stan Horton said during a conference call with analysts to discuss first-quarter results. Once the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration grants approval, Boardwalk will place Evangeline back in service by the end of the current quarter, he said.

Boardwalk bought Evangeline -- which can move about 2.6 billion lbs/year of ethylene between Texas and Louisiana -- from Chevron last September for $295 million. In October, the 176-mile pipeline experienced a leak that forced a shutdown through mid-December. While performing an inspection in early January, another leak was discovered, forcing another closure.

The resulting constraint has created significant pressure on Texas ethylene prices, which have traded at around a 10- to 15-cent/pound discount to Louisiana product. On Friday, PCW assessed Mt Belvieu-Williams spot ethylene at 36.375 cpp, while Choctaw ethylene was assessed at 50 cpp.

Meanwhile, Boardwalk on Monday reported first-quarter net income attributable to controlling interests of $77.7 million, a 29% decrease from $110.2 million in the comparable 2014 period. Operating revenues of $329.7 million were down 8%.

“The partnership's transportation and storage revenues were negatively impacted by the relatively normal 2015 winter season compared to the unusually cold and sustained winter of 2014,” the company said in a release. – Mark Davidson

Dow cuts 1500-1700 jobs due to chlorine business spinoff

HOUSTON, May 4, 2015 (PCW) -- Dow announced Monday it is cutting 1500 to 1700 positions in its workforce, a 3% reduction. The company said the move is “result of the company’s pending separation of a significant portion of its chlorine value chain.”

These measures will impact the company’ second quarter earnings by some $330 million to $380 million, which are expected to be completed during the next two years. Dow added, however, the downsizing will result in about $300 million of annual operating cost savings.

Two weeks ago, Dow reported net income of $1.5 billion for the first quarter of the year, up from $1 billion a year ago. Even though profit margins widened for the 10th consecutive quarter, sales shrank to $12.4 billion from $14.5 billion due to “headwinds,” such as a stronger dollar and a 49% year-over-year drop in global oil prices, company executives said at the time.

CP Chem’s Sweeny 22 unit restarting: TCEQ filing

HOUSTON, May 4, 2015 (PCW) -- Chevron Phillips’ Sweeny 22 olefins unit began restart activities Saturday, according to a TCEQ filing. The 600 million lbs/year cracker went down March 19 for a planned turnaround. The filing estimates that flaring associated with the restart activities will end Wedneday.

For more information, click here.

NGL, ethylene prices show greater sensitivity to cracker outages amid softer crude

The crude oil price collapse had initially limited the impact of cracker outages on the spot prices of ethane, propane and ethylene. More recently, however, markets appear to have acclimatized themselves to this volatility and appear to be following fundamentals more closely.

Demand loss due to cracker outages hit a peak in the first week of October 2014 with approximately 250,000 bbl/d of lost ethane demand and 20,000 bbl/d of lost propane demand, according to Genscape estimates. Genscape began publishing feedstock impact due to cracker outages in September 2014, as the brunt of the oil price fall-off was permeating into downstream markets.

Genscape monitoring indicates that during this time, Exxon’s 4.7 billion lbs/year Baytown Bop-X cracker was ramping down, CP Chemical’s 1.880 billion lbs/yr Port Arthur cracker was still down from a fire in July, CP Chem’s 600 million lbs/year Sweeny 22 unit was shut. Also, decreased activity was seen at LyondellBasell’s 2.54 billion lbs/year La Porte plant and Ineos’ 3.95 billion lbs/year Chocolate Bayou facility.

PetroChem Wire also reported Eastman’s 922 million lbs/year HCC-4 unit at Longview, and Williams’ 1.96 billion lbs/year Geismar. Flint Hills’ PDH unit was also shut for planned repairs.

PCW prices show spot ethane rose 0.5 cpg between late September and the first week of October – influenced by natural gas futures’ increase -- while propane shed 0.125 cpg. Ethylene also fell 0.875 cpp during this time frame, echoing WTI crude’s fall of $6/bbl.

Since then, however, crude prices have stabilized within the $50/bbl range for WTI and $60/bbl range for Brent. The relatively flat price movements of ethane and propane have since paying greater heed to fundamentals and have exhibited a greater price sensitivity toward cracker outages.

At the end of March into the first week of April this year, another slew of outages saw demand loss spiking between 135,000 bbl/d to 155,000 bbl/d for ethane and 40,000 bbl/d to 60,000 bbl/d for propane, according to Genscape estimates.

This coincided with CP Chem’s outages at its 2.25 billion lbs/year Sweeny 33 and Sweeny 22, Genscape showed. PCW also reported ExxonMobil’s 1.8 billion lbs/year Beaumont plant was shut due to a fire on a propylene line.

As such, the spot price of ethane fell 0.5 cpg during this time frame, while propane shed 1 cpg and ethylene rose 0.375 cpp.

News for May 1, 2015

PDVSA said ready to buy 1 million bbl gasoline in May

Houston, May 1, 2015 (PCW) -- Venezuela’s PDVSA will purchase more than 1 million barrels of gasoline in May, market sources said Friday.

The gasoline, in the form of a blendstock called “cat gas” is typically an 85 octane, 8 RVP material. The purchases will most likely come from US Gulf Coast refineries, although in the past some have come from Europe.

The increased purchases are being made in the wake of a turnaround in a fluid catalytic cracking unit at PDVSA’s Amuay refinery. Typically PDVSA receives one cat gas cargo per month, about 250,000 bbl.

Currently the Gulf Coast price of cat gas is 2-3 cents below finished gasoline, about $1.85/gal; the retail price of gasoline in Venezuela is controlled by the state; it is about 19 cents per gallon.

News for April 30, 2015

Weak NGL market trumps refining-margin boost for Phillips 66

Houston, April 30, 2015 (PCW) -- Phillips 66’s first-quarter refining margins hit a two-year high as gasoline crack spreads were aided by lower-cost crude oil, but that failed to offset a weak natural gas liquids market that slashed earnings in its chemical and midstream segments, the company reported Thursday.

As a result, the Houston-based firm’s profits fell 37% from a year earlier, to $987 million ($1.79/share) from $1.57 billion ($2.67/share).

“The NGL market environment negatively impacted results from our DCP Midstream investment as well as our own NGL midstream business,” Chairman and CEO Greg Garland said in a conference call with analysts.

Specifically, prices for polyethylene, a primary feedstock for making plastic, tumbled in the first quarter sequentially and year over year, while olefin-chain margins contracted. Garland also cited planned maintenance and turnarounds at chemical facilities it operates through its equity investment in Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.

Among major segments, Phillips 66 reported Midstream earnings of $67 million, down sharply from $188 million a year earlier; Chemical earnings of $203 million vs. $316 million; and Refining earnings of $538 million vs. $306 million.

In the Refining unit, crack spreads jumped mainly due to much higher gasoline market cracks in the Western/Pacific region during recent months: $20.21/barrel vs. $7.46/ barrel in fourth-quarter 2014.

The company noted that the spike in Refining income would have been larger if not for a heavy turnaround schedule that reduced volumes, and an unplanned outage at its Alliance refinery in Louisiana.

Looking ahead, Phillips 66 said construction of the Sweeny Fractionator One and the Freeport LPG Export Terminal continued on schedule during the quarter. Sweeny, with the capacity to process 100,000 b/d, is more than 70% complete, while the LPG terminal is about one-third complete. Startups are expected in the second half of 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Williams mulls Alberta PP facility; delays PDH unit start-up to 2018

HOUSTON, April 30, 2015 (Houston) -- Williams is looking at a possible polypropylene facility to be built near its proposed PDH unit in Edmonton, Alberta, the company said Thursday. Additionally, the PDH unit now has an in-service date of 2018, a delay from its initial start-up in Q2 2016.

CEO Alan Armstrong said in an earnings call with analysts Thursday that Williams would not ultimately own the PP plant.

The 1.1 billion lbs/year PDH unit was announced in 2013.

Williams on Wednesday reported net income for the quarter of $70 million, down from $140 million reported in Q1 2014. Its NGL and Petchems segment saw a $5 million loss for the first quarter of the year, unchanged from its year-ago level.

The company attributed the $70 million decrease in net income to the absence of insurance proceeds related to the Geismar plant, which only recently returned to service, and sharply lower NGL margins.

Williams also confirmed it had discontinued its proposed Bluegrass Pipeline, a joint venture with Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, which would have moved 200,000 bbl/d of NGLs from Appalachia to the Gulf Coast.

Armstrong said Wednesday the company expected its adjusted EBITDA for the year to be “near the low end of the range due to the extended Geismar ramp-up and the effects of low commodity prices on volumes and margins.”

ITC to levy anti-dumping duties on US imports of packaging-grade PET

Houston, April 30, 2015 (PCW) -- Anti-dumping duties on US imports of packaging-grade PET from China, India and Oman are set to be imposed by June 3, and on imports from Canada by Aug 17, according to the International Trade Commission.

Three US PET producers filed an anti-dumping complaint with the ITC in March. They charged that PET imports from India, China and Oman in 2012-2014 had been subsidized by the countries' governments and sold in the US at "less than fair value."  The producers are Dak Americas, Charlotte, NC; M&G Chemicals, Houston; and Nan Ya Plastics Corp, America, Lake City, SC.

Imports from Canada in the same period were sold at less than fair value but not subsidized by the government, US PET procucers said.

The ITC said last week that it had found sufficient cause to impose preliminary duties on imports from the four countries. The four in 2014 accounted for a combined 329,000 metric tons of US packaging-grade PET imports, or 56% of the total, according to the USA Trade Online. The 329,000 MT was valued at $433.9 million, based on declared value with US Customs.

Enterprise reports 19.3% Q1 earnings drop; Ethane export terminal on track

Houston, April 30, 2015 (PCW) -- Enterprise Products Partners on Thursday reported first quarter net income of $651 million, compared to $807 million a year ago, a 19.3% decline, largely due to lower energy commodity prices and a milder winter, which impacted propane deliveries.

Company executives said Thursday construction on its PDH facility in Freeport is on track to begin service in the second half of this year. Also on schedule is its ethane export facility at Morgan’s Point on the Houston Ship Channel in mid-2016.

Partly offsetting the quarterly decline was its gross operating margin for the petrochemical and refined products services segment increased 34% percent, or $44 million, to $175 million for Q1 2015, compared to the year-ago level. This increase was due to higher transportation volumes, which increased 14% to 803,000 bbl/d during the quarter, compared to 703,000 bbl/d in Q1 2014.

Its propylene business reported gross operating margin of $64 million for the quarter, compared to $49 million a year ago, on higher sales margins and volumes.

Its gross operating margin for the NGL pipelines and services segment was $695 million in Q1 2015, compared to $780 million on Q1 2014, down on lower NGL prices.

Enterprise said its Appalachia-to-Gulf Coast ATEX pipeline transported about 52,000o bbl/d of ethane during the quarter, compared to 30,000 bbl/d in Q1 2014.

The company also announced Thursday it would build a new 12-inch diameter pipeline to transport NGLs from its new joint-venture gas processing facility with Occidental Petroleum in the Delaware Basin to one of its existing pipelines that will ultimately terminate to Enterprise’s Mont Belvieu facilities. The new pipeline and plant is expected to be operational in mid-2016. The plant will have capacity of 150,000 mmBtu/day.

Shell sees decreased chem earnings on lower ethylene; Moerdijk to restart in H2

Houston, April 30, 2015 (PCW) -- Shell reported decreased chemical earnings for the first quarter of the year Thursday on lower US and European ethylene prices and the Moerdijk complex outage in the Netherlands.

Chemical earnings for the quarter were $400 million, compared with $476 million in Q1 2014.

Moerdijk is on track to restart in the second half of the year, which company executives said was earlier than expected. The Moerdijk downtime sent Shell’s chemicals availability at 84%, lower than year-ago levels.

Shell shut the complex last October because of a steam leak. It restarted two of the four units at the complex later that year.

Shell’s overall downstream segment, of which chemicals is part of, saw a 68% year-over-year increase in quarterly earnings to $2.6 billion, compared to $1.575 billion, driven by higher oil products results.

News for April 29, 2015

Range Resources to sell 20,000 b/d of ethane to Ineos via Mariner East

Houston, April 29, 2015 (PCW) -- Range Resources said Wednesday it expects to sell 20,000 b/d of ethane to Ineos in the third quarter of the year once the next phase of Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East pipeline comes online.

Range said it expects $90 million of additional cash flow per year from its NHL transportation and sales agreement when the pipe – which runs from the Marcellus Shale to the Marcus Hook terminal in Pennsylvania --- is fully operational.

The pipe began flowing propane in late 2014 with its second phase transporting both ethane and propane. It has a capacity of 70,000 b/d.

News for April 27, 2015

Marcellus/Utica infrastructure build out fluctuates amid slight production downtick

The development of NGL infrastructure in the Marcellus and Utica shales has been in flux over the last few weeks, raising the question of what would suffice in terms of takeaway capacity and consumption to meet robust Appalachian production.

Recently, a Kinder Morgan spokesperson said the company was looking at a second pipeline to move natural gasoline between Ohio to Ontario, effectively proposing a twin to its Utopia East ethane and E/P mix pipe, which is expected to come online in January 2018.

Already moving supplies to Canada is MarkWest Energy and Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner West, which has been transporting ethane to Ontario for a few years now.

Although Enterprise Products Partners’ ATEX pipeline from Appalachia to the Gulf Coast is already in service, other Gulf-bound projects – one from Kinder Morgan and MarkWest, the other from Boardwalk Pipeline Partners and Williams --- have not found sufficient shipper commitment.

On the ethylene cracker side, early this week Thai firm PTT and Japanese trading firm Marubeni announced it was planning a cracker in Ohio. In contrast, Braskem is re-evaluating its joint-venture Appalachian cracker with Odebrecht. Shell, meanwhile, has yet to make a final investment decision on its cracker in Pennsylvania.

On the LPG export front, Sunoco and MarkWest’s Mariner East has been moving propane from Appalachia to the Marcus Hook terminal since 2014 and should begin shipping ethane in a few months.

Generally, market observers and analysts have agreed that – assuming Canadian and waterborne exports continue – Appalachian production would be sufficiently served with no more than two Gulf-bound pipelines and two crackers.

Although NGL production in these shales is expected to slow down (see Genscape forecast, page 6) it will be at a lower rate than other basins. Given the continued hefty ethane rejection in Appalachia --- where NGLs are left in the natural gas stream --- the region provides the greatest uplift in North America in terms of both raw NGL values and frac spreads, as per PetroChem Wire calculations.

With the current bearish price environment, however, a further shakeout in these infrastructure projects for the region could be imminent.

 

Electrical storms force shutdown at Sweeny 33; restart in progress (Update1)

Electrical storms caused a power outage that shut down Chevron Phillips Sweeny 33 unit on Saturday. "Plant personnel will assess possible damage to systems at Ethylene Unit 33 resulting from the sudden loss of electricity and after making any necessary repairs will return the unit to service," a TCEQ filing showed. CP Chem on Monday said the unit was being restarted. For more, click here.

News for April 24, 2015

Houston, April 24, 2015 (PCW) -- LyondellBasell reported first-quarter net income of $1.167 billion on Friday, compared with $944 million in the same time a year ago, a near 24% increase, due to supported polyolefins pricing and low feedstock prices.

The company reported earnings of its North American olefins and polyolefins segment for the quarter at $1.031 billion, down from $1.04 billion in Q1 2014, nearly a 1% decline. The fall-off was attributed to lower ethylene prices.

The company said the 250,000 million lbs/year expansion of its Channelview ethylene plant should come online late in the second quarter.

Additionally its upcoming turnaround of its Channelview 625,000 mt/year propylene oxide and styrene monomer facility, which is scheduled to begin before the end of the month, will negatively impact its second-quarter results by $20 million. The maintenance is expected to take 65 days.

 

Steam producing unit shutdown at Total's Port Arthur refinery

A steam producing unit shutdown Thursday evening at Total's Port Arthur refinery. Flaring ceased within 46 minutes of the Unit 860 wet gas compressor's slow down, as per the TCEQ filing here.

 

News for April 23, 2015

Dow on track for 2015 PDH, 2017 cracker startups: CEO (Update1)

Washington DC, April 23, 2015 (PCW)--Dow had no announcements in its 1Q earnings call Thursday morning to change the timelines of its previously announced olefins projects in the US.

CEO Andrew Liveris noted that the there was "no change" to the timing of the projects and estimated the start-up timeframe for its planned ethane cracker at Freeport to be in early 2017. The unit's ethylene capacity has previously been announced at 3.3 billion lb/yr. 

Construction on the company's planned 1.65 billion lb/yr PDH unit (also at Freeport) was "over 85% complete" and is "on track for a mid-2015 startup," Liveris said. As for "all of their other projects that we’ve announced," Liveris said they are "also doing just fine budget and timing-wise."  

Net income up as sales shrink 14% on USD strength, oil price drop

The company reported a combination of sharply higher income and sharply lower sales in the first quarter – an indication the chemical giant is increasingly immune to volatility in the oil, gas and natural gas liquids markets. 

Dow posted quarterly net income of $1.5 billion, or $1.18 per share, compared to $1 billion, or 79 cents/share, a year earlier. Its profit margins widened for the 10th consecutive quarter even as sales shrank to $12.4 billion from $14.5 billion due to “headwinds,” such as a stronger dollar and a 49% year-over-year drop in global oil prices. 

Diversification eases effect of 23% drop in plastics sales 

“It’s clear this is not the commodity-driven Dow Chemical of a decade ago,” CFO Howard Ungerleider said on a conference call with analysts, noting that Dow has spent years diversifying its portfolio and divesting lower-margin businesses to protect itself from volatile macroeconomic conditions. 

Among its various business segments, plastics reported Q1 sales of $4.3 billion, down 23% compared to year-ago levels, due to declines in its hydrocarbons and energy segment. Plastics earnings, however, was $985 million, up 2% from Q1 2014. -– Mark Davidson 

 

News for April 22, 2015

Shintech to invest $1.4 billion in new Louisiana ethane cracker

Houston, April 22, 2015 (PCW)--Shintech, the world’s largest PVC maker, will spend $1.4 billion in a new ethane cracker to be located in Iberville Parish, Louisiana, the governor’s office announced late Wednesday. The Japanese firm already has a PVC and caustic soda facility at its Plaquemine complex and will add the cracker at the site, as well as upgrades to connect the cracker’s ethylene output to its VCM and PVC production there. Shintech is expected to break ground on the project in 2Q with expected in-service in the first half of 2018.

NuStar to begin shipping NGLs from Corpus Christi to Mont Belvieu in May

Houston, April 22, 2015 (PCW)--NuStar has completed construction on its 12-inch NGL pipeline between Mont Belvieu and Corpus Christi, company officials said on its earnings call Wednesday. It will begin line fill in May with full service right after that. This was a conversion project of a currently idled pipeline with a capacity of 105,000 bbl/d. Occidental is the long-term shipper. Company says the pipe is expected to generate an incremental $23 million in annual EBITDA upon reaching full NGL service, based on committed volumes.

Thailand’s PTT looking to build cracker in Ohio

Houston, April 22, 2015 (PCW)--State-owned PTT and Japanese trading firm Marubeni have selected a site in Belmont County, Ohio, as the site of their joint-venture ethane cracker. The location is in the heart of the Utica Shale. The companies will take another 12 to 16 months to finish the engineering and design phase of the project, according to the Ohio Governor’s office Wednesday. The companies are expected to make a final investment decision next year and, if they should proceed, the cracker could have an in-service date as early as mid-2019.

Mont Belvieu frac capacity: Room to spare for now, constrained going forward?

Houston, April 22, 2015 (PCW)--The recent drop in energy prices and slowdown in NGL production growth has resulted in underutilization of Mont Belvieu fractionation capacity. But when production does resume at a rapid clip, will there be sufficient fractionation capacity?

Current fractionation capacity at Mont Belvieu is 1.678 million bbl/d and could reach some 2 million bbl/d in the next few years, when taking into account new builds and expansions by Enterprise Products Partners, Lone Star and Targa.

The recent price decline, which is likely to impact the production growth rate, has slowed further expansion plans. Enterprise said in its Q4 2014 earnings call that their 10th fractionation train at Mont Belvieu, with capacity of 85,000 bbl/d, had received the necessary permits, but construction was yet to commence.

Ethane rejection --- where ethane is left in the natural gas stream --- and the expected slowdown in NGL production, have enabled this underutilization of Mont Belvieu fractionation capacity. Genscape expects total raw NGL production will grow just 105,000 bbl/d year-on-year to 3.298 million bbl/d in 2016. Ethane rejection is expected to average 225,000 bbl/d during 2015 in systems feeding Mont Belvieu fractionators.

Fueling ethane rejection is the decline in the fractionation spread, which is the differential between the value of NGL against that of the corresponding natural gas hub. PetroChem Wire calculates the national frac spread went from $3.836/mmBtu at the start of November 2014 to $2.995/mmBtu on April 9, a nearly 22% decline.

Already, pipeline flows into Mont Belvieu are indicative of this underutilization of infrastructure. Inbound NGL pipe capacity into Mont Belvieu is currently at 2.4 million bbl/d, but as expected, much of this capacity is not running at full rates. Of the Mont Belvieu-bound NGL pipelines that Genscape monitors, approximately 1.4 million bbl/d, flows were estimated last week to be at 60%. This implies there is still available fractionation capacity at Mont Belvieu.

But how long will that spare capacity last? NGL production is expected to resume its previous steady climb in 2017, according to Genscape forecasts, crossing over 4 million bbl/d in 2018. This would translate into greater fill on these pipelines into Mont Belvieu and potential fractionation capacity constraints. Storage at Mont Belvieu could provide a buffer as production rises, but constrained capacity heightens price sensitivity to fractionation train issues and shutdowns.

 

Plastic PET bottle recycling increases 53 percent over 10 years

NEW YORK, April 22, 2014—Recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) pellets are now selling at higher prices than new PET produced from scratch at refineries. As of April 15, 2014, bulk virgin PET was selling at 72 cents per pound while recycled PET pellets were fetching as much as 77 cents per pound, according to PetroChem Wire, a chemical industry news and price reporting service that also publishes Repro-Regrind Resin Report, which covers recycled plastics markets.  

“When recycled plastic costs more than new production, you know the U.S. has dramatically ramped up its efforts to decrease the amount of plastics heading to the garbage,” said Xavier A. Cronin, editor of PetroChem Wire's Weekly Recycled Plastics Report.

Steady Growth

PET is a plastic used to make a myriad of food and beverage packaging—from soda and water bottles to peanut butter jars. The PET bottle was patented in 1973. Four years later the first PET bottle was recycled. In the 44 years since the first Earth Day in 1970, the recycling of PET has risen steadily and accelerated over the last decade. 

One reason for the virgin-to-recycled-PET price anomaly is an overproduction of virgin PET in the U.S. This is the result of investors being convinced that demand for PET would rise, so they built new PET production plants in recent years.  

“A funny thing happened on the way to expansion,” Cronin said. “We started recycling our plastic far more than in previous decades and demand for recycled plastics rose with the advent of bills for bottles requiring deposits in some states.”  

Another factor Cronin cites is that some plastic-bottle makers must include a certain percentage of recycled PET in their new production to meet environmental mandates. This further increases demand for recycled PET pellets. 

According to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), in 2012, 31.8% of PET bottles in the U.S. were recycled or 859,000 tons. This is up 6.6% from 2011’s 802,000 tons, and up by 53% from 2002’s 398,500 tons.  

Routine Process

The recycling process has become routine in many areas of the U.S. The highest volume of recyclables comes from people's homes. Bottles, jars and everything else plastic (and metal and paper) are put into recycling bins for curbside collection. The municipality picks it up each week and it gets separated and cleaned.  

PET plastics, which form a sub-category, are further separated. They are bundled and secured into bales that are sold to companies that reprocess them into recycled PET "flake," which is then "pelletized." In recent years, advances in plant technology have allowed some recycled PET flake to be used directly in the production of new packaging, bypassing the pellet stage. Companies that buy recycled pellet use it to make new plastic packaging. 

The Weekly Recycled Plastics Report covers prices on the fast-growing market for recycled plastics. The twice-monthly newsletter contains more than 70 assessments for pellet and flake material and is published by PetroChem Wire, a daily newsletter about U.S. commodity petrochemical markets. It counts every major petrochemical and refining company among its readers, as well as many major manufacturing concerns, global conglomerates, industry consultants, equity analysts and government agencies. It also produces maps of chemical plants and pipeline systems. For more information, visit www.petrochemwire.com.