Quarterly Update on Global Polystyrene Market
For the Quarter Ending March 2021
During the first quarter of 2021, the supplies of Polystyrene were tight, as several Styrene monomer plants went for maintenance turnarounds during the H1 of Q1, followed by the production disruptions caused due to extremely freeze weather conditions in the US gulf region resulting in plant outages in mid-February. However, the demand surged as the utilization improved from the downstream automotive sector and construction sector. Demand for Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) from food packaging applications kept the sentiments raised although persistent feedstock tightness raised Polystyrene contractual offers.
The supplies in Asian region improved as compared to last quarter, as major production facilities boosted the efficiency rates, as they returned from the prolonged turnaround period in the region. However, in early February, amid the earthquake in Japan some plants were forced to halt their productions which put constraints in the feedstock styrene supplies. The demand surged as the consumption improved due to the rebound of automotive sector. The inflation in upstream products consequently surged the prices of Polystyrene in the Asian markets. The quarterly average of the General-Purpose PS (GPPS), moulding grade in the Indian market was estimated to be around USD 1789/ton.
The European PS supplies were tight during the first quarter, as the availability of feedstock remained constrained due to major styrene producing plants in the region declared force majeure in early February. However, the demand witnessed mixed results as the second wave of COVID caused the lockdown in major economies across the region resulting in restricted mobility and commercial activities, followed by the slowly improving automotive sector. The demand for packaging materials however, remained high throughout the quarter.
For the Quarter Ending September 2020
Asian Polystyrene players have reported healthy margins due to restocking activities by downstream packaging and disposable sectors while some countries prepare themselves for the upcoming festive season. However, some plant turnarounds which are expected in South Korea and Malaysia by the end of the October month may impact the supply chains. While the market still seems susceptible to fluctuations in the upstream Styrene values, Southeast Asian activity head towards improvement as some regional importers increase their run rates.
The Q3 results of the European Polystyrene remained satisfactory in anticipations that demand from the construction sector would gain focus in the upcoming months as the region bounces back from the COVID led disruptions. Steady demand for PS grades used for food packaging and medical applications will continue to widen the product margins. The quarter ended with AmSty, INEOS Styrolution and Trinseo signing a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) to ensure the circularity of Polystyrene through the first-of-its-kind Polystyrene recycling plant in France to widen the product scope.
The third quarter proved to be muted for the North American Polystyrene industry. While demand from the medical and packaging sector remained resilient, the demand from larger segments, such as appliances, automotive and construction, are yet to show significant improvement due to high unemployment rates and hovering uncertainty in the economic growth. Polystyrene players maintained their run rates around 70-75% to grapple with the softening margins.