A year-to-date comparison of total US commodity chemicals exports up to August this year shows a marginal increase of 0.6%, remaining around 9.4M tonnes. The major rise was for ethanol exports which increased by 628,000 tonnes to 2.8M tonnes, with more cargoes being shipped to Brazil and India. The next most sizeable increase was the 103,000 tonnes gain for ethylene glycol. There were smaller gains for benzene, paraxylene and toluene. These increases were offset by the downward trend for other products with the most significant declines being for styrene and MTBE/ETBE which fell by 350,000 tonnes and 213,000 tonnes respectively. Some of the reduction in exports could partially be due to the impact of hurricane Harvey bringing in torrential rains and major flooding causing plants located in the US Gulf region to shut down or run at reduced rates. Total exports as a whole fell the most to China and Europe during the first eight months of this year while the major gains were to Brazil, Canada and India.
USA imports of commodity chemicals decreased by 415,000 tonnes, or 7%. Benzene and paraxylene imports were the main drivers for the decline in total imports. The declining trend in the USA is in line with expectations as US producers take advantage of competitively priced domestic supplies of ethane. The majority of the decrease for benzene was due to a decline in supplies coming from Asia, primarily South Korea, resulting in a fall of 249,000 tonnes. Paraxylene was down by 217,000 tonnes, with lower volumes coming from Europe. All other products changed by relatively smaller volumes. Total imports have mainly fallen from South Korea and Trinidad and Tobago (methanol) while volumes from Brazil have risen so far this year.
Based on changes in year-to-date trade figures, total US exports of commodity chemicals this year would increase by 0.6% from 2016, while US imports of commodity chemicals would decrease by 7%.
The above is from the Chemical Carrier World service provided by Richardson Lawrie Associates Ltd (RLA), a firm of international maritime economists and business consultants. More information can be found at www.richardsonlawrie.com.