CHLORINE PRICES UNLIKELY TO RISE, OCCIDENTAL CHEMICAL CHIEF SAYS

CHLORINE PRICES UNLIKELY TO RISE, OCCIDENTAL CHEMICAL CHIEF SAYS

Chlorine prices likely have topped out after establishing recent highs, industry officials said.

Roger Hirl, Occidental Chemical Corp.'s chairman and chief executive, said at a conference here this week that chlorine prices aren't likely to rise much in the next six to 12 months from recent record highs. Occidental, based in Dallas, is a large chlorine producer.Chlorine producers have raised prices about $100 a ton with their four posted increases this year. Chlorine was quoted this week at $210 to $245 a ton.

Higher chlorine prices have forced polyvinyl chloride producers to raise prices by 25 percent, or 6 cents a pound, from a year ago, to defray the sharp increase in the cost of chlorine, said Thomas A. Waltermire, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Geon Co. of Cleveland.

The run-up in chlorine prices "plays havoc with our attempts to run our business," Mr. Waltermire said.

However, Geon has managed to retain some of the higher prices because of the recent decline in petroleum-based feedstock costs due to falling oil prices.

Chlorine prices, meanwhile, have begun to decline, said Theodore S. Semegran, an industry analyst with Lehman Brothers in New York. That's supported by the recent drop in prices for such chlorine derivatives as ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride monomer, he said in a recent report.

Both Mr. Hirl and Mr. Semegran are looking for improved prices for caustic soda, chlorine's co-product. Caustic costs from $50 to $70 a ton and is quoted as low as $30 a ton on the spot market. Prices in 1994 could go up from $30 to $50 a ton from current lows, Mr. Semegran said.

Chlorine producers traditionally weigh pricing for the pair of materials, called an electro-chemical unit, when determining profitability. Mr. Hirl expects the 1994 ECU prices, on average, to be higher than than in 1993.