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Spot styrene prices traded at a record high in Europe

Spot styrene prices traded at a record high in Europe Thursday, according to OPIS and IHS Markit data, as supplies of the product remain tight. The trade was done at $2,300/metric ton, an all-time high, according to IHS Markit records dating back to June 2006. This was due in part to a buyer scrambling to cover requirements for March loading, which spurred spot prices to the 15-year high, according to sources.

Styrene prices for March delivery 12 months ago were assessed in a range of $760–780/metric ton, and Thursday’s trade equates to a 200% gain year-on-year. Prices have remained elevated since mid-February, when participants sought to buy for March delivery. At the same time, an unplanned outage at Europe’s biggest styrene production facility in the Netherlands was supporting higher spot prices, according to market sources.

LyondellBasell and Covestro’s jointly-owned propylene oxide/styrene monomer (POSM) unit at Maasvlakte, Netherlands, remains offline following an incident at the site on 10 February. The site produces 313,000 metric tons/year (mt/y) of PO and 680,000 mt/y of styrene. A three-week turnaround is planned at the site, beginning in the second half of March, a market source told OPIS.

Moreover, winter storm Uri also shut down and reduced output at a swathe of oil refineries and petrochemical plants including several styrene units, as it barreled across the US Gulf Coast between 14 and 17 February. The closures have further curbed cargo volumes earmarked for Europe, as US producers already reduced exports following planned maintenance work or technical issues at plants, according to IHS Markit analysts.

Europe’s styrene demand is typically about 350,000 metric tons/month, according to IHS Markit data.

OPIS is an IHS Markit company.

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