By Patrick Raleigh UT On-line/news editorSalt Lake City, Utah-Huntsman Polyurethanes has recorded an 81-percent year-on-year rise in first quarter earnings ((EBITDA) to $72.7 million, on sales 15 percent higher at $639.6 million. Higher volumes and better average selling prices contributed an extra $54.6 million to earnings for the three months ended 31 March, Huntsman reported. These gains more than offset higher raw material and energy prices, which added $30.4 million to the firm's costs. The sales increase included a 27-percent rise in MDI (methylene dipphenyl diisocyanate) sales revenues. This, said Huntsman, was due to a 9-percent rise in selling prices and better sales volumes, which rose by 57 percent, 2 percent and 16 percent in Asia, the Americas and Europe, respectively. "A strong rigid polyurethane market, coupled with tight supply, gave rise to strong volume gains in Asia," Huntsman noted. Meanwhile, some 6 percent of the selling price gain was due to currency factors, with the remaining 3 percent due to actual price rises, the company added.Huntsman's polyol sales revenue increased by 14 percent, with average selling prices up by 12 percent and sales volumes 2 percent higher. PO sales revenues, however, fell 3 percent, due to the planned turnaround and inspection at the firm's Port Neches, Texas, facility, Huntsman said."