Supply tightness in the Northwest European styrene monomer market will keep prices strong throughout March on the back of turnarounds in the region during March-April and limited imports from the US Gulf, sources said.
“A lack of material is keeping styrene prices at high levels. There is definitely not going to be a drop in styrene prices during March,” one said.
“Prices have jumped since the beginning of March when the tightness began to bite.”
Prices were assessed at $1,391/mt FOB ARA Friday, a week-on-week increase of $158.50/mt, or 13%. Since the beginning of the month, prices have risen $246/mt or 22%, according to Platts data.
Other sources said styrene plants representing about 20% of European capacity would be taken offline for turnarounds in March and April, including facilities in the Czech Republic, France and the Netherlands.
Another source said there were limited imports coming from the US despite an open arbitrage from the region.
USG styrene prices were last assessed at 55.25 cents/gal ($1,218/mt) FOB USG.
With freight between the US Gulf and Europe at $44/mt for 5,000 mt parcels, NWE April prices would have to be at least $1,321/mt for the arbitrage from the USG to be work, according to Platts data.
NWE prices for April were assessed at $1,365/mt FOB ARA Friday.
Looking ahead, one source said the strength in styrene prices would continue into April but may ease in May when turnarounds at Northwest European production plants were concluded, relieving the supply tightness.