Thailand: IRPC expects petrochemical prices to rise
IRPC, the petrochemical arm of national oil and gas conglomerate PTT Plc, expects prices of petrochemical products, which hit a 10-year low, to increase early next year as Covid-19 eases.
Kris Imsang, president and chief executive of IRPC, blamed the impact of lockdown measures, enforced during the pandemic, as well as the Russia-Ukraine war, which flared up in February this year, for causing a downturn in the petrochemical business.
Prices of plastics and other petrochemical products reached their lowest during the third quarter of this year.
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene was priced at US$799 per tonne, high density polyethylene at $421 per tonne and polypropylene at $367 per tonne, compared with a range from $500-900 of these three products in early 2020.
The downturn was, however, offset by the upsurge in liquefied natural gas prices that caused many gas-fired power plant operators to replace gas with oil, eventually causing IRPC to sell more refined oil, said Mr Kris.
Gross integrated margin of IRPC’s oil refinery, which produces refined oil for use as a fuel and a feedstock for the petrochemical industry, stood at copy1.5 per barrel at the end of September.
As Covid-19 measures were eased in Thailand from October, Mr Kris expects the petrochemical business to return to normal next year.
To avoid the price fluctuations of refined oil and petrochemical products, IRPC will focus more on the production of specialty grade polymers. This will also help it avoid high competition in the commodity grade polymer market in Asia-Pacific.
Specialty grade polymers, which are more expensive than commodity-grade polymers, can be used to make a variety of products, including battery components, auto parts, pipes, electrical products, home appliances and hygiene products.