Solvay Polymers of Houston will attempt to raise polypropylene prices 3 cents per pound Jan. 15, but other PP makers have declined to jump on the bandwagon so far. Several PVC makers also announced January increases.
In a Dec. 8 letter to customers, Solvay said it needed the increase to help improve ``unacceptably low margins'' that were inconsistent with the strong demand PP has seen this year.
Officials at Montell Polyolefins of Wilmington, Del., and Fina Oil & Chemical Co. of Dallas — which rank first and third, respectively, in North American PP production — said they had no plans for price increases at this time.
PP prices have stabilized recently after seeing some softening in late summer and early fall. At the time, average pricing dropped 4 cents per pound.
Meanwhile, in the PVC kingdom, Geon Co. of Avon Lake, Ohio; Borden Chemicals & Plastics LP of Columbus, Ohio; and Westlake Polymers of Houston each have opted for 2 cent price increases effective Jan. 1. The moves follow a similar increase announced in late November by Formosa Plastics Corp. USA of Livingston, N.J.
Formosa at that time also announced a 2 cent price hike effective March 1. Though no competitor has followed suit, Condea Vista Co. of Houston indicated it was likely to follow Formosa's January attempt for an increase.
Dallas-based Occidental Chemical Co., along with Formosa, previously had rescinded 2 cent hikes slated for Oct. 1 after encountering staunch resistance from buyers, especially in the pipe industry.
A Borden Chemicals spokesman said the Jan. 1 hike would coincide with the construction industry's trend of building up pipe and siding inventories to prepare for the spring building season. A Westlake spokesman added pipe demand has been above average in the final quarter of 1997.
The Borden Chemicals spokesman added that the boost is needed to rebuild industry margins that have suffered since prices began to drop in midsummer, months earlier than price erosion is usually seen in the PVC cycle.
``Some people may think January is a little early to seek a price increase,'' he said. ``But it's difficult to hold your breath when you're below the surface.''