US ethane cracker margins reached record lows Friday as spot ethylene pricing also slipped into uncharted territory.

US ethane cracker margins were estimated at 7.06 cents/lb ($156/mt) Friday, the lowest since S&P Global Platts began publishing cracker margins in January 2011.

The 0.71-cent drop came as spot ethylene prices also fell to record lows Friday, with the prompt month assessed at 14.25 cents/lb ($314/mt) FD USG. That assessment is the lowest since Platts began publishing daily ethylene prices in 2004 and down 0.875 cent from Thursday (15.125 cents/lb), the previous record low.

Spot ethylene was heard traded at least twice Friday at 14.25 cents/lb MtB Nova for April delivery.

The last time the US ethylene market flirted with these price levels was in 2008 amid plummeting sales and margins resulting from the global financial crisis, which resulted in reduced run rates, plant shutdowns and layoffs across the USG region.

Friday’s low stemmed from significantly different market dynamics.

Fueled by the shale gas boom in North America, the US ethylene market stands to see a more than 35% increase in production capacity by 2019.

North America’s ethylene production during the next decade is expected to climb from approximately 33.7 million mt in 2017 to nearly 48.65 million mt in 2026, according to estimates from S&P Global Platts Analytics.

US Gulf Coast purity ethane closed the week at 27.625 cents/gal non-LST Mt. Belvieu basis.

Margins using ethane/propane mix were estimated at 6.90 cents/lb, also a record low, while propane and naphtha as feedstocks remained in negative territory.

Cracker margin estimates use the current spot price and yields of the various cracker products from cracking various light and heavy feedstocks.