Price Know-How:
February 2022

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Polyolefin producers ponder pricing policy as feedstock costs increase.

Although quite choppy due to on-going concerns about the impact of Covid-19 on the global economy, crude oil prices continue to rise. The overall recovery since April 2020 has now been more than £300 per tonne, and since concerns are diminishing regarding the likely impact of the Omicron variant the crude oil markets are increasingly bullish.

Naphtha, which is a key feedstock for C2 and C3, closely tracks the price of crude oil, as illustrated above, hence the similar increases for these feedstock references for February. However, the PP and PE markets are somewhat lacklustre, and, on this basis, there is strong resistance to the producers’ requests to pass this inflation through and it looks as if some of the margin gain that was achieved in both C2/C3 and PE/PP may have to be conceded.

Although the PS market is less liquid that the PE/PP market, this month’s fall in SM will bring downward pressure to prices.

Whilst the fall in Benzene costs will bring some relief to engineering polymer production cost, this will be largely offset by increased energy and transport cost, along with a situation of short-supply for many materials in this group of polymers.

Mike Boswell
Managing Director – Plastribution Group

Change (Contract)
C2 (Ethylene)
C3 (Propylene)
SM (Styrene Monomer)
Brent Crude

Oil Prices

Oil prices recovered between November 2021 and December 2021, although sensitive to both OPEC policies on output and developments concerning Covid-19.

Exchange Rates

Whilst the GBP has been quite stable against the Euro throughout 2021, the USD has strengthened since mid-2021 and this has brought with it inflationary pressures for goods priced in $.

UK Economic Data







Real GDP (Q on Q)

Q3 2021


UK Output

Manufacturing Index

Q3 2021



New Car Registrations (Y on Y)




Retail Sales (Y on Y)




Unemployment Rate

Sept – Nov



CPI (Y on Y)




RPI (Y on Y)



Interest Rates

Bank of England Base Rate




After a relatively stable start to the New Year with most prices rolling over in January, February looks set for more of the same as competing factors balance each other out. On the one hand, monomers increased but with demand still slightly muted, most sellers agreed rollover relatively quickly after some initial attempts to secure increases. Some outlying suppliers are still pushing for energy surcharges and some with production issues have put through increases to maximise the return on limited volumes.

The picture for the coming months is a little murky. Although new capacity is coming on stream and the market should be in an oversupply, logistics continues to be a very significant factor. Whilst Europe offers the best returns on both PE and PP globally, getting the goods to ports and then on from there continues to be challenging. There are many reports of lower priced material agreed for future delivery but the quantity and the timescale is unclear. Material for prompt delivery can still command a premium.

Ian Chisnall
Product Manager – Polyolefins

Polyolefins Feedstocks
£/Metric Tonne by month



LDPE pricing was under some pressure in January and ended the month slightly lower than the start, but February appears to be a strong rollover.

Whilst cheaper imports are on the way, the arrival date is unclear and locally produced material is still £1,500 / MT+. Speciality grades are still at a good premium. USA pricing for export has had a small rally and with a shift in exchange rate, prices are now £1,400 / MT+ for arrival around Easter.

Prices will start to fall at some point but possibly not as quickly and not by as much as many thought in late 2021.



LLDPE pricing has rolled over into February as imports remained below expectations and supply had a few challenges.

C4 LLDPE grades with additives are in short supply following a fire at a major producer of the additives in the USA. Prices for LLDPE exports rose on the back of this and will keep prices at current levels for longer. C6 remained tight following some local production issues and continued to command a strong premium.

Whilst C4 grades were typically in the £1,320-1,370 / MT bracket, C6 was £1,550-£1,600. Metallocene continued its strong price performance with supply continuing to be limited. Prices were still reported in a broad range with £1,750-£2,000 / MT heard in the market.

Outlook for the future is that prices should fall in Q2 but could well hang on at current prices in March as supply has a few hiccups.



HDPE has good availability, and some prices are slipping as traders look to stimulate demand with competitive offers. Pricing is in the £1,260-£1,300 / MT range for generic blow moulding grades.

Offers of £1,220 / MT are being reported but are for some point in the future that is not clear. HD injection pricing is roughly in line with blow moulding but film grade HDPE has a premium, with slightly less availability. Outlook in the coming months is for prices to weaken as imports arrive. However, the continuing global logistics crisis continues to make the market uncertain and some are looking to guarantee supply and pay premiums for it.

Some Middle Eastern producers reversed the lower priced offers from January and asked for increases having “overshot” the pricing in January.                           



PP remained relatively stable going into February with some slight price erosion on some grades. Homopolymer stayed flat after seeing some prices slip slightly in January but the C3 increase has stopped any further price erosion. PP Copolymer has seen some price falls as availability improved and demand stayed flat. What is not clear is how the Total Force Majeure on PP Copolymer will affect pricing going forward. Whilst imports look set to increase from about April onwards, we still see some shortages and pricing should remain close to these levels until then.

Homopolymer for injection moulding is still available at £1,400 / MT and large buyers are reporting slightly below that. The range of pricing, however, continues to be broad with prices of £1,600 / MT still reported. £1,500 / MT appears to be a reasonable average of the pricing.

Copolymer pricing appears to be in the £1,650-£1,800 / MT range with only a few outliers still asking for very high prices over £2,000 / MT now. Supply is improving and whilst logistics issues persist, imports from the Far East are returning to the market for April and beyond. Many end use applications for PP such as the Automotive industry continue to face uncertainty over chip shortages and with relatively weak demand continuing, we can expect to see prices fall soon.

Other Polyolefins

EVA continues to be very restricted, but prices have rolled over in February and remain at record high levels. This situation will persist until at least the summer and with production issues in Europe continuing, the primary concern will be in securing supply.

Speciality PP saw prices rise on the back of the monomer increases. In some instances, prices rose €100 / MT as supply was limited and demand in healthcare applications remains strong. Some plant issues appear to be resolved so supply will hopefully improve in Q2


Andrew Waterfield
Product Supervisor – Styrenics

Styrenics Feedstocks
£/Metric Tonne by month



SM rose by €119/T in January, pushing PS up by £100/T. Supply side issues were the cause of this, as EU SM production was low, and US SM imports scarce.  Some PS producers also attempted to pass on any energy cost increases on top of the SM hike.  Despite the increases, PS demand remained normal for the time of year.

Moving to the current month, Contract SM price has fallen by €51/T as SM supplies return to normal, and PS demand and supply return to balance.  It is likely PS will follow the SM drop.



January ABS began 2022 with price increases as SM and ACN showed triple digit rises, driven by tight supply.  Demand was low, but as with PS, not unusual at the start of a new year.

February shows little change to price.  While SM has dropped, BD has taken up the slack with a rise of +€50.  ACN has fallen by €-110, but overall has had little effect on composite monomer pricing and finished product.  Supply is still low, and demand restrained by very high prices.



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



Further price increases have been announced on the back of higher energy and logistic costs. Inventory levels are being re-filled and it is anticipated that supply will meet demand in February.



Given the shortages there was little resistance to the higher prices pushed through at the start of the new year. Further hikes are expected due to the continued restricted supply and the increased glass fibre and other additive costs.



No change on the horizon with increasing prices, restricted supply, and allocation systems still in place.



The significant rise in Benzene contracts in January and higher energy costs keep prices high. Production has increased in Europe and availability has significantly improved leading to more normal lead-times. However, the situation for speciality PC grades is a different picture with extremely limited supply.



This situation remains unchanged, the restricted supply of MMA will keep prices high and product short.



The situation remains critical due to shortages of Purified Terephthalic Acid (PTA) and Butanediol (BDO) which in turn means poor availability and rising prices.

Other Engineering Polymers

The situation for other engineering polymers remains complex, difficult to predict and depends very much on the exact material, but shortages and cost increases are now the norm for every polymer type.

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

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