A MARKET UPDATE for April, 2012

April, 2012


The Chemical Company
P.O. Box 436
44 Southwest Ave.
Jamestown, RI 02835
Phone: (401) 360-2800
Website: thechemco.com
Email: Info@thechemco.com

Special Message:

 Each Spring at the end of March and beginning of April the TCC crew has made the journey South (or in some cases North) to the city of San Antonio, TX. It is a fantastic time to visit this beautiful and historic city. But the agenda is usually full, so sightseeing and enjoying the weather are secondary to the matter at hand.

The TCC crew and many of us in the chemical industry come from far and wide to San Antonio, TX for the BIG EVENT. This event is known by most simply as the “NPRA” which was scheduled this year April 1-3, 2012. It is the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC) sponsored by the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (now know as “American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers”) and is the “largest” and “most prestigious” event for the Petrochemical Industry.

As always the Folks from TCC will were in attendance but it was a bit different….

This year there was a competing event, known simply as NPE (National Plastics and Engineering). This event, the “International Plastics Showcase” was in Orlando, FL April 2-5, 2012 but is not an annual event but held only once every four years. Because this is such a huge show and with TCC being a major supplier to the plastics industry our attendance was a must!

So what did we do? Divide and conquer!

The major players from TCC that you have come to know and love were in attendance at both shows. You may not have your favorite character, but since we are a flat organization that prides ourselves on sharing information you surely got the best that TCC has to offer.

Nick Roach, CEO lead the NPE team and Robb Roach, President lead the NPRA team. We brought back lot of information to share and this edition of “The View from Jamestown” is only a brief summary!


Quote of the Month:

Don’t wear the same paths too deep.”

Robb Roach, TCC President

TCC Videos:


Upcoming Events:

 Chemspec USA 2012 will take place at Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia during 8 & 9 May 2012

Links and Social:

 Want to exchange links?? Contact us!

 For immediate updates on Chemical Industry News be sure to follow us on Twitter @thechemicalco or our facebook page here:

Habla Español??? The TCC website is available in Spanish!

TCC Downloadable Brochures

The Chemical Company Brochure
TCC Plasticizers and Plastics Additives
Iron Oxides
Flame Retardants

Habla Español??? The TCC website is available in Spanish!

New Products In Stock


Sydol 61 Silane 850 Kg. Totes and 250 Kg. Drums
Zinc Borate25 Kg. Bags
Citric Acid: 1,000 Kg. and 25 Kg. Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)
Dicyandiamide: 25 Kg. Bags (In stock and available now!)
Malic Acid: 25 Kg. Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)
Maleic Anhydride Briquettes: 25 Kg. Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)
Acetyl TriButyl Citrate: 1,000 Kg. Totes and 250 Kg. Drums (Our NatureFlexx 509 is in Stock and Available Now!)
Adipic Acid: 25 Kg., 500 Kg. and 1,000 Kg. Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)

Products In Transit/ Available Soon

Neo- Pentyl Glycol (NPG) 500 Kg. Sacks
Tetrakis-(hydroxymethyl)-phosphonium chloride 2200 lb. Totes
Succinic Acid 25 Kg. Bags
Antimony Trioxide High Tint, Supersacks

New/ Updated Technical Information (hyperlinked):

Zinc Borate
Adipic Acid
Diisononyl Phthalate
Epoxidized Soybean Oil
Malic Acid
ChemFlexx TOTM
Tartaric Acid
ChemFlexx DiOctyl Adipate
Fumaric Acid

New Products:

Succinic Acid is a dicarboxylic acid comprised of four carbon atoms. The chemical is produced as a colorless crystalline solid and is used in the drug, agriculture, food products, and other industries.

NatureFlexx 509 100% Phthalate Free General Purpose Plasticizer! This high molecular weight plasticizer is an excellent, phthalate free replacement for general purpose phthalate plasticizers like DINP, DOP, DOTP, Etc.Drums, Totes and Bulk Available.

Please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com
or Tel: (401) 423- 3100 for more information.

We appreciate your taking the time to review this newsletter. We welcome your comments as well as contributions regarding our readers’ company/industry activities. Please send them to Bob Beavins at chemcobob@comcast.net

**Please note that all products are now in Alphabetical Order and many products are hyperlinked to their own information page.**

At the end of each paragraph you will notice a symbol and the meaning of these symbols are as follows:

+ Denotes upward pricing momentum
\ Denotes stable pricing momentum
– Denotes downward pricing momentum


Benzene U.S. benzene contracts for April settled lower to US$4.12/ gallon , down just $.11/ gallon from US$4.23/ gallon in March. Spot prices have firmed.

N Butane Butane prices were trending in the $1.90- $1.92/ gallon range and trading slightly up but very lightly. Winter demand season ended. /

Ethylene U.S. Contract Price increased by $.0175/ lb. to $.5575/ lb. Spot is currently US$.75/ lb.

Natural Gas Current spot prices reported around to ~$2.08- $2.10/MMBtu. Prices are very low and inventories high after an extremely warm winter. –

Oil Current WTI Crude price is in the $$100- $101/ barrel range. Recent pricing has been trending lower.

Check thechemco.com for up to the minute info.

Orthoxylene March contracts settled up $.02/ lb. to $.71/ lb. April is looking like an additional $.02/ lb. +

Propylene March contracts settled up $.05/ lb. to $.775/ lb. for Polymer Grade and $.76/ lb. for Chemical Grade. Producers have announced an April price increase of $.02/ lb. and $.05/ lb. but it has not yet settled. +


Adipic Acid: Adipic Acid pricing has felt pressure from raw material cost increases especially Benzene. Supply and demand may get off balance with a NA producers outage in Q2. NA producers eye Western Europe as their growth market. /

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

Ammonia: April pricing in Tampa has increased substantially $70/ ton to $470/ ton. Some feel this wasn’t enough. International pricing has also firmed. +

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

Ammonium Nitrate: Ammonia pricing will pressure AN costs. Demand remains very good and supply is limited. /

For more information please contact AJ Petrarca aj@thechemco.com

Antimony Trioxide:     

Demand for antimony trioxide remains weak but pricing remains stabile. Buyers continue to keep inventories to a minimum and use alternate chemistries where possible. /

For more information please contact AJ Petrarca aj@thechemco.com


Pricing is moving up as demand is very good and some production interruptions in China are noted.  Prices are higher for prompt and product with lead time.  Product is in stock and immediately available. / 

For more information please contact AJ Petrarca aj@thechemco.com

Epoxidized Soybean Oil: Pricing is stable competitive increased competition is noted from both domestic producers and offshore. Soy Bean pricing continues to move higher. /

For more information please contact Robb Roach robb@thechemco.com

Fumaric Acid: FA Pricing is stable. Butane is in the $1.90 +/- range and relatively stable. Import offers have kept domestic pricing level. /

For more information please contact AJ Petrarca aj@thechemco.com


Glycol (Mono, Di and Tri):

Ethylene has settled up 1.75 cts/ lb. to 75 cts/ lb.

MEG – Demand remains slow domestically but exports to China and Europe are firming pushing spot higher. No price increase announcements for April but Q2 outages are expected to push inventories lower. Spot pricing is now in the $.46/ lb. +/- range. /+

DEG- The DEG market has become more stable with large exports. Spot is now in the mid $.30’s/ lb. /

TEG- Extremely slow seasonal demand is now gone. Likely one of the worst years in TEG sales ever. Spot is stable and selling in the mid $.70’s/ lb. /

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

Isophthalic Acid:

PIA pricing has stabilized. Expect increases toward Summer if oil pricing moves higher as expected. /

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

Maleic Anhydride:

Maleic Anhydride supply continues to be balanced to long in North America as blending season ends and UPR demand remains soft. An increase of 3 cts/ lb. has been announced for April 1 sighting higher raw material costs and lower steam value. Consumers are pushing back this latest increase. +/

For more information please contact AJ Petrarca aj@thechemco.com


Melamine availability long world wide on massive new capacities in Trinidad and Qatar. Pricing dropped in Q4 but has recently stabilized.  /

For more information please contact Javier Fernandez  Javier@thechemco.com 

Malic Acid: Malic Acid supply has improved but long lead times continue. TCC has Malic Acid in stock and available. /

For more information please contact AJ Petrarca aj@thechemco.com

Methanol: The Methanex Non-Discounted Reference Price for April will remain at US$1.34/ gallon. Spot pricing is currently approx. $1.14- $1.15/ gal. and stable to up. /

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com


Massive new capacities on MTO (Methanol to Olefins) slated for China. Methanol demand in this region could rise sharply and out-strip any new capacity in coming years.

Gas Curtailments in Trinidad continue and likely in the 15% range. The curtailments will continue as long as the gas delivery system cannot manage upstream outages.

Embargo on Iranian Methanol will likely cause a “re-shuffling” of volumes world- wide.

Nitric Acid:

Nitric Acid pricing is stable but increased ammonia pricing will likely pressure pricing in the coming months. Demand is good. /

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

Phenolic Resins:

Phenol is more balanced and raw material pricing, specifically benzene has stabilized. Formaldehyde prices remain stable with methanol prices unchanged. /

For more information please contact John Santini at john@thechemco.com

Phthalic Anhydride: Phthalic Anhydride pricing will increase by $.02/ lb. in April in line with the March orthoxylene price increase. We expect another small increase in May. +

For more Information please contact Javier Fernandez at javier@thechemco.com

Plasticizers and Plasticizer Alcohols:

Plasticizer and plasticizer alcohol demand world-wide has been steady with some improved demand ahead of price increases.

No new increases for May have been announced yet.

Orthoxylene pricing will likely increase by 2 cts/ lb. in April, Propylene will settle up somewhere between a $.02 and $.05/ lb. Ethylene has also increased by $.0175/ lb. to $.5575/ lb. with spot at $.75/ lb. /+

For more information please contact Forest Goodman at forest@thechemco.com

Note: Some plasticizers have limited availability. Please contact TCC for further details.

TCC Plasticizers available:

Non- Phthalate:

ChemFlexx Dibenzoate Esters

ChemFlexx DiOctyl Succinate (DOSX)

ChemFlexx NP 500” Non- Phthalate Replacement for General Purpose Plasticizers

ChemFlexx NP 600” Non- Phthalate Replacement for DIDP

NatureFlexx 509” Phthalate Free General Purpose (ATBC)

Epoxidized Soybean Oil

ChemFlexx TOTM (TriOctyl Trimellitate)

ChemFlexx DOA (DiOctyl Adipate)

ChemFlexx 8 10 Trimellitate


Vestinol 9 DiIsononyl Phthalate (DINP)

ChemFlexx 206” Functional Linear Phthalate Replacement

ChemFlexx 208” Low Temp Functional Linear Phthalate Replacement

ChemFlexx DOP (DiOctyl Phthalate)

ChemFlexx DUP (DiUndecyl Phthalate)

DMP (DiMethyl Phthalate)

ChemFlexx DOTP (DiOctyl Terephthalate)

Brominated DOP

ChemFlexx 9 11 Phthalate

ChemFlexx L9 Phthalate

Styrene monomer: Styrene Pricing will decrease slightly for April in line with lower benzene values (up $.03/ gallon). NA demand remains slow. /

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

Urea: Wow! Urea prices have moved up rapidly ($100+/ ton in the last week) pushing $700/st. The price move was tied to early planting and excellent weather. Granular barges are pegged at $725- $735/ ton and prilled at a Net $75- $100/ ton discount. ++

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com


Seasonal demand has surged on good weather.

An early beginning means an early end to the fertilizer season. Importers are hesitant to commit too much cargo which could lead to a shortage.

Corn acreage this year should top 96 million acres!

Prill pricing is expected to catch up to granular pricing very quickly.

Zinc Borate: Pricing has been relatively steady but demand has increased as consumers scramble to replace a portion of their Antimony Trioxide usage where possible. Product is in stock and immediately available.

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

For more information on these or any of the products and services provided by TCC please contact Robb Roach directly at Robb@thechemco.com or go to our web site at thechemco.com


According to the American Chemistry Council (ACC) the US Chemical Production Regional Index rose by 0.5% in February, following a revised 0.5% gain in January. Chemical production rose in all seven key regions during the month. Compared to February, 2011, total chemical production was up 1.5%. A $720 billion industry, the chemical business is one of the largest sectors of the American economy.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a final rule on March 20 that aligns its hazard communication standard with international systems. The new rule includes a category for “hazards not otherwise classified” and has drawn criticism from industry representatives.

In late February, French lawmakers voted to ban the use of Bisphenol-A (BPA) in all food packaging and the rule will go into effect January 1, 2014.

The FDA rejected a request to ban BPA from cans and other packaging because opponents didn’t provide sufficient data to support a rule change. The agency said that continued study of BPA, including completion of federal studies currently in process, is the most appropriate course of action. Canada and a number of EU countries have banned its use in baby products. BPA is also used to strengthen plastics and as a resin to protect metal containers from corrosion and on the metal lids of glass jars.

US chlor-alkali operating rate for January rose to 85%, up from 79% in December, the highest output level in five months.

The US Supreme Court ruled on March 21 that landowners can sue to challenge a federal government compliance order under the clean water law, siding with corporate groups and putting new limits on EPA powers.

The EPA has proposed the first rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, a hotly contested move during an election year. The proposal would effectively stop the building of most new coal fired plants. The rules would not regulate existing power plants.

The ACC announced its support of the EPA Federal Reading Rooms program, an initiative that allows public access to information on risk management plans of chemical facilities.

The EU will begin evaluating the suspected risks posed by 90 chemicals under European REACH legislation. The program will involve 17 member states evaluating the risks posed to human health and the environment by 36 substances. The remainder of the 90 identified materials will be evaluated in 2013 and 2014.

BASF and PETRONAS arrived at an agreement for the previously announced expansion of their existing joint venture operations in Malaysia. The new facilities will include isononyl alcohol (INA) and polyisobutylene. The total investment has been estimated at €1 billion.

US ethanol exports showed a record high in 2011 of 1.1 billion gallons, surpassing 2010’s record 396 million gallons. The Renewable Fuels Association reported a record 13.9 billion gallon US ethanol production in 2011.

President Obama recently pledged to accelerate approval of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans criticized his comments as “taking credit for going forward on the only portion of the pipeline that he doesn’t need to approve.” Obama rejected the full project earlier this year. The pipeline holds the potential of moving up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day, creating up to 20,000 direct jobs with estimates of hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs. A Gallup poll conducted in March showed 57% of Americans thought that the US government should approve the entire Keystone XL pipeline.

Formosa Plastics USA recently announced a major expansion at its Point Comfort, TX site, based on low cost feedstocks from the shale gas boom. Plans are to build a 800,000 MT/year cracker along with a 300,000MT/year linear low density polyethylene plant, and a 600,000MT/year plant to produce polypropylene. The cost of the project is estimated at $1.7 billion with earliest completion date of 2016.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said on March 26 that the German government will support expanding the resources of the euro zone’s bailout fund to €700 billion from €500 billion. The European Commission wants €940 billion for the European Stability Mechanism; this is a step back from her earlier refusal to add funds at all.

More than one million jobs in Germany are unfilled according to a recent survey as unemployment is at record lows and employers complain of skills shortages. The German economy is projected to show zero growth in the first quarter of 2012, reflecting slow conditions in the euro zone.

Germany’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained essentially the same in March at 6.7%. February was reported as 6.8%. Continued reduction, at a low rate, is expected for the remainder of the year. However, February unemployment in the 17 nation euro zone rose to 10.8%, its highest level in almost 15 years.

Brazil’s Braskem reported a fourth quarter 2011 loss of $112 million, attributable to higher raw material costs and slowing demands.

Despite lower annual growth, economists at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said that Brazil took Britain’s spot as the world’s sixth-largest economy behind the US, China, Japan, Germany, and France. The CEBR figures showed Brazil’s GDP at $2.469 trillion, while UK GDP was $2.420 trillion.

A plan announced by the Chinese government encourages expansion of existing ethylene facilities in order to take advantage of economy of scale and construction of refinery-petrochemical complexes.

China reduced its economic growth target from 8.0% to 7.5% this year. The target had been 8.0% for the past seven years.

Global piracy activity almost tripled in January, owing to an increase in incidents in the Indian Ocean, South China Sea and Latin American waters. A total of 46 attacks were reported for January, up from 17 in December. The rise in attacks came after a temporary reduction in the number of EU Naval Force warships patrolling the east African coast.

General Motors announced in early March that it was suspending production of the Chevy Volt for five weeks due to lack of demand. The hybrid gas-electric vehicle gets 25 miles on a full overnight charge and costs around $40,000. The Chevy Corvette has a price tag of approximately $49,600.

The two year highway bill approved by the Senate has been delayed in the House, which favors a 90 day extension.

The American Trucking Association reported that tonnage increased 0.5% in February, after falling 4.6% in January. Trucking represents 67.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation.

Shale oil and gas-related:

The US Bureau of Land Management, which is drafting rules for natural gas production by fracking on federal property, said that it will use industry standards for cementing. Cementing is considered the most critical part of the drilling operations. The draft of the rules is expected to be released in April. The cement is used to seal the outside of the steel pipe lining the well to the surrounding rock so that oil and gas won’t seep up to the surface.

Dow Chemical will unveil the chosen location of its proposed US ethylene plant in April according to CEO Andrew Liveris, who also credited the volume of cheap shale gas as the main driver in the resurgence of the US petrochemicals industry. Dow’s ethylene plant would come on line around the same time as ChevronPhillips Chemical’s new ethane cracker in Bayport, Texas.

Shell Oil Co. chose a site near Pittsburgh, PA for a major, multi-billion dollar petrochemical refinery that could create thousands of jobs. The location is in Monaca, about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

New York is lagging behind bordering states in capitalizing on shale gas opportunities as a result of its de facto ban on gas development. Bradford county, PA on the NY state line has an unemployment rate of 5.7% while bordering Broome county, NY is at 9.7%

Chesapeake and multiple partners will invest $900 million in building Ohio facilities to process and ship natural gas liquids such as ethane and propane. The facility will be able to process 600 million cubic feet of gas per day and store 870,000 barrels of liquids.

So much light sweet crude oil is coming out of North Dakota’s Bakken Shale formation that producers are scrambling to deliver the material to markets. Production has risen from 100,000 bbls/day in 2006 to more than 500,000 bbls/day in 2011 and is expected to exceed 1,000,000 bbls/day. There isn’t enough pipeline capacity so large quantities are moving by train and truck. Trial shipments indicate that even with increased freight charges, net cost to East Coast refineries is less than that of imports.


The Congressional Budget Office reported that the federal budget deficit was $578 billion in the first five months of fiscal year 2012, $63 billion less than the deficit recorded in the same period in fiscal 2011. Without the shifts in timing of certain payments, the deficit for the period would have been close to $600 billion.

The Treasury Department reported that the federal debt was $15.5 trillion as of March 1, 2102. It stood at $5.7 trillion in 2001. The debt is now roughly equal to the entire US economy. The total national debt topped the size of the economy for three years during and after World War Two.

The US now holds the distinction of having the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate after a reduction by Japan.

According to data from the Federal Reserve, consumer debts rose at an annualized rate of 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2011, the first such increase since the second quarter of 2008. Business lending grew at an annualized rate of 4.6%, also the fastest since 2008.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that fourth quarter 2011 Gross Domestic Product increased at an annual rate of 3.0%, that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 1.8%. Current-dollar GDP, the market value of the nation’s output of goods and services, increased at a rate of 3.9% or $144.7 billion in the fourth quarter to a level of $15,320.8 billion. Third quarter increase was reported as 4.4% or $163.3 billion.

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index increased 0.7% in February to 95.5 (2004=100) following a 0.2% increase in January and a 0.5% increase in December.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index which had increased in February, decreased slightly in March. It stands at 70.2 (1985=100) down from 71.6 in February.

The Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index registered 53.4% in March, an increase of 1.0% from February’s 52.4% indicating expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 32nd consecutive month. A reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding. The Non-Manufacturing Report for March was 56.0%, lower than February’s 57.3% and indicating continued growth at a slower rate.

In February, retail and food services sales adjusted for seasonal variations were $407.8 billion, an increase of 1.1% from January, and 6.5% above a year earlier.

Privately owned housing starts in February of 698,000 were 1.1% below the revised January estimate of 706,000 and 34.7% above the February 2011 rate of 518,000. Single family housing starts in February were at a rate of 457,000 or 9.9% below the revised January figure of 507,000. According to the Commerce Department, new home sales declined 1.6% in February, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000, but 11.4% above the February 2011 figure of 281,000. That was less than half the 700,000 new homes that economists say should be sold in order to sustain a healthy housing market.

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes declined 0.9% in February, but were up 8.8% over the same period a year ago.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in February increased $4.5 billion or 2.2% to $211.8 billion. This increase, up four of the last five months, followed a 3.6% January decrease.

February unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods up twenty-two of the last twenty-three months, increased $11.5 billion or 1.3% to $930.3 billion and followed a 0.7% January increase.

Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers increased 0.4% in February. In the last twelve months, the index for all items increased 2.9% before seasonal adjustments. Over the past 12 months the energy index has increased 7.0%. The gasoline index increased 6.0% in February, and has increased 12.6% over the past twelve months.

The Producer Price Index for finished goods increased 0.4% in February, seasonally adjusted, following 0.1% increase in January and 0.1% decrease in December. On an unadjusted basis, prices for finished goods increased 3.3% for the twelve months ended February 2012.

Interest rate: Prime at 3.25%, unchanged since 12/16/08.

Inflation: Inflation rate in February remained at January’s 2.9% following December 3.0%. Average for 2011 reported at 3.2%, up from 1.5% in 2010. A rate of 2% is projected for 2012.

Unemployment: The February 2012 rate was reported at 8.3% by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unchanged from January. The BLS reported that the long-term unemployed, i.e., jobless for 27 weeks and over was little changed at 42.6%.

Trade Deficit: For January 2012 the goods and services deficit increased to $52.6 from a revised December figure of $50.4 billion as imports increased more than exports.

Crude Oil: Prices remain volatile in excess of $100/bbl. Present WTI spot price ~$107/bbl.

Natural Gas Henry Hub price closed on March 21 at $2.21/MMBTU, reflecting continued warmer than normal temperatures. Working natural gas in storage remains above the five year average.

Industrial production in February was unchanged after having risen

0.4% in January. At 96.2% of its 2007 average, total industrial

production for February was 4.0% above the level of a year earlier.

February capacity utilization rate for total industry decreased to 78.7%. This was 2.2% above the rate a year earlier but 1.6% below 1972 – 2011 average.

The US dollar trading at 82.8 Japanese yen; $1.34 = euro. The British pound sterling = $1.60. Canadian dollar trading at US$.99

Current US gold price reported as $1663/ounce compared to the record price of $1920/ounce in September, 2011.

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