The Mont Belvieu, Texas, ethane price tumbled to a 15-month low last week and butane fell to its lowest point in 20 months last week. Pentanes-plus countered the trend by continuing a six-week rally that has returned it to its level of October.
EnVantage Inc. had been predicting a price rebound in the second half of the year, but now backed away from that position. Ethane’s high prices have discouraged exports and five major cracker projects on the Gulf Coast (new, expansions and restarts) have been delayed significantly, meaning that the wait for an uptick in demand will be a long one. The hike in pentanes-plus could be related to increasing diluent demand in Canada that cannot be met by higher Canadian production alone.
U.S. exports fell by an average of 506,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) in the week ending March 22 compared to the previous week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported. Also, refinery inputs dropped by 392,000 bbl/d. Crude oil shipments from the Houston Ship Channel were hobbled by a petrochemical storage tank fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Co. facility in Deer Park but that setback was combined with an unexpected jump in inventories.