Price Know-How:
April 2023

Skip to:


How will a last-minute hike in oil prices impact polymer prices?

After hitting a low point in mid-month, the end of March saw OPEC announce a cut in oil production amount to 1.2 million barrels per day. Since which, Brent Crude Oil prices have increased by over $4 per barrel / £25 per tonne, and at the time of writing are holding steady at this higher level.

These increases have largely offset the decrease in average monthly price between February and March as depicted in the table below. However, the rally in crude oil pricing came too late to impact on C2 and C3 pricing and prices fell by £35 per tonne at the beginning of April.

The late rally in crude oil pricing, and its impact on energy costs, is giving polymer producers serious cause for thought. Many are now mulling on either not passing through any decrease in polymer pricing, or at least not passing the decreases in full. Although, much will now depend on the supply/demand balance for each polymer type and within these even by application.

It is also worth noting that Polyethylene prices in the USA increased for March by about £50 per tonne and that this is likely to be most influential in terms of HDPE and LLDPE pricing where America has become a significant source of supply to UK.

The increase in SM contrast to a further marginal decrease in Benzene pricing and is a result of industrial action in France. This has led to SM production being temporarily suspended as movement of product by rail has been halted.

Whilst global demand for polymers remains muted, it looks as if April may represent a turning point, at least for some volume polymer types.

Monomer Price Movement
Change (Contract)
C2 (Ethylene)
C3 (Propylene)
SM (Styrene Monomer)
Brent Crude
Exchange Rate

Mike Boswell
Managing Director – Plastribution Group

Oil Prices

Exchange Rates

UK Economic Data







Real GDP (Q on Q)

Q4 2022


UK Output

Manufacturing Index

Q4 2022



New Car Registrations (Y on Y)




Retail Sales (Y on Y)




Unemployment Rate

November – January



CPI (Y on Y)




RPI (Y on Y)



Interest Rates

Bank of England Base Rate




April has seen drops in Polyolefin pricing following the Monomer reduction of €40 / MT for both C2 and C3. Prices continue to vary between different products due to supply / demand balances.

LDPE is experiencing good supply with weak demand and appears to have dropped by slightly more than monomer. HDPE Blow Moulding and LLDPE C4 are tighter, and in some cases, the full monomer drop is not being passed through. PP is a mix with Homopolymer readily available, but Impact Copolymer saw some interruptions to supply helping to keep prices higher.

Outlook for May is a little cloudy with expectations of a reversal in the monomer reductions we’ve seen in April. With oil prices rebounding from the prices at the end of March, Naphtha has recovered and should see derivatives increase in cost. However, supply and demand remain key to how pricing will go in the short and medium term.

Polymer production continues to be curtailed in Europe as demand for polymers continues to be weak with various economic challenges facing the industry. With more imports expected in the coming months, price increases are likely to be modest.

Ian Chisnall
Product Manager – Polyolefins

Polyolefins Feedstocks
£/Metric Tonne by month



With LDPE readily available and demand from the flexible packaging market weak, prices have, in some instances, fallen by slightly more than monomer as producers look to stimulate demand.

Injection and coating grades held prices better than film with supply more balanced to market demand



C4 LLDPE is probably the tightest grade currently with limited imports from USA keeping the market in a balanced situation. Producers looked to keep prices at rollover but there was some softening in that approach through the month as buyers held off.

C6 LLDPE was also reported as a little tight and moved down by monomer €40 / MT) as an absolute maximum.

Metallocene prices were seen in a very wide range as European producers passed through monomer, but Metallocene was one of the few grades that continued to arrive from USA and discounts were available for volume buyers



HDPE, like LLDPE C4 was also a little tight on the back of limited imports from USA.

HD Blow Moulding was quite short at some points this month with buyers struggling to secure all their required volume. Prices reflected this with the full monomer decrease not passed through and many seeking rollover pricing.

HD Injection was more widely available with HD Film grades somewhere between the two.



PP pricing typically followed monomer downwards and continues to be a grade under pressure with demand still weak from key industries such as Automotive and Consumer Goods.

However, some European producers of Impact Copolymer had limited availability and looked to rollover pricing.

Other Polyolefins

EVA pricing reduced with monomer and is becoming more available even with some plant issues in Europe as demand is soft.

Speciality POP grades typically rolled over due to a balanced market situation.


Andrew Waterfield
Product Supervisor – Styrenics

Styrenics Feedstocks
£/Metric Tonne by month



SM availability increased in March, as 2 EU SM plants came back online, driving down SM by €113/T.  At least some of this was passed on in PS pricing, but producers tried to hold on to as much as possible in an attempt to cover increasing production costs.

In April, SM trends slightly upward (+€19), but it seems a PS rollover is more likely.  PS supply remains the same as previous month, with output balanced with poor demand.  There are some indications demand is starting to increase.



For ABS in March, EU prices dropped as composite raw material costs fell (SM -€113/t, butadiene +€30/t, ACN -€60/t), while Asian imports rolled over. EU ABS output was throttled to match demand, but availability remained good.

Slight changes in styrene monomer costs in April are unlikely to push up pricing, especially as butadiene and ACN have dropped (SM +€19/t, butadiene -€20/t, ACN -€154/t), and slight reduction or rollover are much more likely. Demand and supply remain as March.



As usual, PC/ABS price is following the trend of ABS.

Other Styrenics

SAN and specialities such as ASA and SMMA continue to follow the price trend of ABS.

Engineering Polymers

Sharron Jarvis
Product Supervisor – Engineering Polymers

Engineering Polymer Feedstocks
£/Metric Tonne by month



European plants continue to cut back production by at least 20% to try to balance the market.

However, we continue to see strong supply from imports, and the reduction of energy costs coupled with extremely low demand, means prices are still on a downward trend.



A comparable situation to PA6, weak demand from the market and cheaper imports putting pressure on prices, no changes on the horizon.



Reducing energy costs, low demand and cheap Asian imports continue to put pressure on pricing and the supply chain.



Minor change in the Benzene contract from March, down just one euro per metric tonne to €918/tonne. Reducing energy costs and cheap imports from Asia are putting significant pressure on prices.

Inventories remain healthy even with a force majeure in place on a German plant as imported material continues to arrive.



PMMA appears to be the only engineering material which still seems to be holding on to higher prices, with only a minimal decrease into quarter two.

But how sustainable this is with growing cheaper imports from Asia and reducing energy costs, producers are likely to have no choice but to lower prices to keep their market share.



Continued weak demand and reducing energy costs are all cause to say pricing could fall further in the new quarter.

Other Engineering Polymers

The situation for other engineering grades remains complex, almost all materials are reducing in price, and we are seeing greater availability from imports.

Contact Mike Boswell

Managing Director – Plastribution Group

Contact Ian Chisnall

Product Manager – Polyolefins

Contact Andrew Waterfield

Product Supervisor – Styrenics

Contact Sharron Jarvis

Product Supervisor – Engineering Polymers

The latest updates sent straight to your inbox

Simply enter your details below to subscribe to Price Know-How
Please note: By clicking subscribe, you agree to Plastribution Limited’s Terms and Conditions and Privacy Notice.