On September 19, 2014, the operating margin for a representative Gulf Coast steam cracker running ethane hit a record high – an astonishing 70.4 cents per pound. Steam cracker margins depend not only on the spread between feedstock costs and the market price of ethylene but also on the varying amounts of propylene, butadiene and other byproducts that result from using different feedstocks. Understanding steam cracker profitability in the context of recent market developments is critically important, and it is the subject of RBN’s latest Drill-Down Report. In today’s blog we provide highlights of the report, which examines what is behind the ongoing shift from heavier to lighter NGL feedstocks, unveils RBN’s downloadable Steam Cracker Feedstock Selection Model, and discusses how new U.S. cracker capacity, NGL exports and other factors will impact these markets.
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