Demand for Soda Ash Steadily Recovering

Genesis Energy LP of Houston, TX reports that first quarter 2021 segment margins in its Sodium minerals and sulfur services business increased 18%, to US$43.7 million. The increase was primarily due to increased production rates at its Westvaco facility and cost efficiencies. These improvements were partially offset by lower domestic pricing and lower volumes.

Genesis’ soda ash sales volumes in the first quarter were 762,820 tons down from 822,247 tons in the corresponding quarter of 2020. Caustic soda volumes increased from 16,303 to 20,262 dry short tons.

Grant Sims, Genesis’ CEO, said, “Our soda ash business continues to recover as demand for soda ash is steadily increasing as the world’s economies re-open and trending towards pre-Covid levels. During the quarter, we set an all-time record for first quarter production from our Westvaco soda ash facility and expect to remain sold out for the balance of 2021. The global supply and demand dynamic for soda ash continues to tighten and we now believe all natural producers are sold out for the balance of 2021.

“Within China, against whom we primarily compete in Asia, certain synthetic production has come off-line due to environmental restrictions while domestic demand for soda ash continues to increase, ultimately reducing the number of tons available to be exported outside of China.

“In response to this dynamic, ANSAC announced a price increase for soda ash in early March for the second quarter on all of their non-contract sales of soda ash and on contracted sales when contracts allow. We believe this increasingly tight supply and demand dynamic will continue to support prices rising through the remainder of this year, especially towards the end of the year when we would otherwise re-determine most of our contract prices for the majority of our sales for 2022.”

Solvay SA of Belgium reports first quarter sales for its Chemicals segment of €791 million (US$960 million), a 1.2% decrease from the first quarter of 2020. Soda ash and derivatives sales decreased 5.9% to €357 million (US$434,0 million).

The continuing recovery in building sustained good demand in flat glass, while demand for container glass used in the hospitality industry remained weak.

Volume 35, Issue 09

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