The PS shortage is not as bad as some other polymers but an ease in the current situation is unlikely before the end of Q1.
PS producers are sold out in February in Europe, a situation that continues since H2 2020, according to market sources.
In February, buyers were still fighting to secure volumes. With spot prices of general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) above €1,300/mt.
The high spot prices to some extent confirm the supply shortages.
A combination of good demand and production disruptions supported the recent increases.
During the second half of 2020, most players anticipated a slowdown in activity.
As such, they postponed turnarounds to Q4.
However, expectations of a weak market in Q4 failed to materialise. Demand instead continued to increase during lockdowns.
Some production glitches, such as Total in Carling, France, which now seem to have been resolved, accentuated these shortages.
As demand remained healthy throughout the second wave of the pandemic, some sellers have struggled to restock.
This situation continues in February.
What is more, since the shortages in other polymers reach critical levels, an element of panic buying is also driving current demand for PS.
Some sellers noted they cannot satisfy all the demand and have been sold out since the beginning of February.
And with oil prices breaking above $60/bbl amid supply disruptions of raw materials, it is unlikely that the PS market will experience a significant retreat before the end of Q1.