North American PET prices moved up an average of 4 cents per pound in September, as markets worked to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
Price increases ranging from 2.5 cents to 6.5 cents were reported for the month. Plastics News is showing this change as 4 on this week's resin pricing chart. Although no PET resin production is on the Texas coast where Harvey hit, supplies of paraxylene and MEG feedstock there were limited, causing a crunch in PET production.
Prices for PET also moved up 2.5 cents in August and now have increased for four consecutive months.
Other factors have impacted the North American PET field in recent weeks. In mid-September, Mexican conglomerate Alpek SAB de CV announced that it was stopping shipments of a PET feedstock to two plants operated by M&G Group in Mexico and Brazil because of unpaid debts. This move is believed to have affected M&G's production at those sites, reducing the overall amount of PET available in the Americas.
M&G Group's Project Jumbo PET site in Corpus Christi, Texas, was expected to add more than 2 billion pounds of capacity to the market later this year, but that project now faces uncertainty as well. Almost 300 workers were released from the site in mid-September. Numerous contractors working at the site have said that they have not been paid by Tortona, Italy-based M&G.
An M&G spokesman told Plastics News that there was no update on the status of the Corpus Christi project.
“End users and distributors had realistically been counting on the [Corpus Christi] plant to be producing in early-to-mid 2018,” market analyst Xavier Cronin of PetroChem Wire said in a recent report. “Without this infusion of supply, they are looking to stock up now to assure supply requirements for the first half of 2018 are met.”
Imports might help North American processors in the short term. But on Sept. 26, four major North American PET makers asked the U.S. government to place anti-dumping duties on PET imports from Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, Pakistan and Taiwan.
“Upstream supply tightness from Harvey outages, lessened imports from [southeast Asia], outages in Europe, and the M&G financial issues all supported a [price] increase for September,” Mark Kallman, a market analyst for Resin Technology Inc., said in an email.
In the first seven months of 2017, Taiwan was the second-largest importer of PET into the U.S., while South Korea ranked sixth, according to Cronin. “The U.S. is a coveted PET market due to strong demand year after year and, in general, reliable and timely payment,” he said.