HOUSTON — The North American propylene market is expected to remain weak through 2000, while the region's styrene producers will be impacted by increased competition from other parts of the world.
Propylene, which sold for about $400 per ton in early 1998, isn't expected to approach that level again until mid-2002, according to CMAI consultant Steve Zinger. A flood of capacity is expected to keep prices weak, Zinger said.
North America will add more than 7 billion pounds of propylene capacity between 1999 and 2001, including a 2 billion pound unit BASF Corp. and Fina Oil and Chemical Co. will open in Port Arthur, Texas, in 2001.
In styrene, North American operating rates will be just below 90 percent through 2000, said CMAI consultant Alex Lidback. Producers will add only 420 million pounds of capacity through 2003, allowing demand to catch up with the region's ample supply. North American exports should drop, however, as regions such as Southeast Asia and the Middle East add considerable amounts of capacity.