As 2004 rolls on, price increases are hitting ever-more-specialized areas of the resin market.
Since January, average per-pound selling prices for dispersion-grade PVC have increased 6 cents per pound. Prices for amorphous and crystalline grades of PET also are up an average of 6 cents per pound, according to several buyers and industry sources contacted recently.
In unsaturated polyester, price increases averaging 7 cents per pound have taken hold during the same period.
While those specialty-type materials normally are insulated from the movements of larger markets, unyielding pressure from crude oil, natural gas and related feedstocks have worn down their defenses this year.
High prices for natural gas and ethylene, along with tight supplies of vinyl chloride monomer feedstock, have had that effect on dispersion PVC, while APET and CPET each have been buffeted by squeezed conditions on ethylene glycol, paraxylene and purified terephthalic acid, sources said.
On the production front, PolyOne Corp. of Avon Lake, Ohio, is in the process of selling its specialty resins unit, a $100 million business primarily consisting of dispersion PVC production in Henry, Ill., and Pedricktown, N.J.
In APET, Wellman Inc. of Shrewsbury, N.J., restarted 200 million pounds of capacity in Palmetto, S.C., late last year. As part of an earlier agreement, Wellman competitor Eastman Chemical Co. will convert the APET into bottle-grade material and split that output with Wellman. The Palmetto site had been idled since early 2002.
For unsaturated polyester, benzene costs have been a big driver. Prices for that feedstock rarely had been higher than $1.20 per gallon, but have shot up to around $4 in 2004.
Unsaturated polyester maker Reichhold Inc. of Research Triangle Park, N.C., has announced a further price increase of 6 cents per pound for Oct. 15.
Reichhold ``continues to experience escalating costs for selected raw materials,'' composites product management director Bill Schramm said in a recent news release. ``2004 has been an unprecedented year for the pricing of polyesters raw materials.''
Further increases are pending on dispersion PVC, and CPET and APET as well.