Chemical Profile

07 May 2001 00:00  [Source: ICB Americas]

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a-METHYLSTYRENE   May 7, 2001



Frontier Oil, El Dorado, Kan.


Georgia-Gulf, Pasadena, Tex.


Georgia-Gulf, Plaquemine, La.


JLM Industries, Blue Island, Ill.


Sunoco, Haverhill, Ohio


Sunoco, Frankford, Pa.




*Millions of pounds per year of high-purity grades of alpha-methylstyrene (AMS) recovered as a by-product of phenol-acetone operations. Not all companies that produce phenol and acetone by cumene peroxidation isolate AMS. Significant quantities of AMS coproduct are hydrogenated to cumene for recycling. Frontier Oil's plant in El Dorado, Kan., was previously owned by Texaco. In 1998, the plant was transferred to Equilon Enterprises, the joint venture between Texaco and Shell. In 1999, Frontier purchased the plant from Equilon. Frontier's AMS is marketed by The Plaza Group (Houston, Tex.) In 1998, Sunoco acquired AlliedSignal's plant in Frankford, Pa. Aristech, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi (Japan) reduced its AMS capacity in 1999 when its phenol unit was modified. In January 2001, Sunoco acquired Aristech. Profile last published 4/6/98; this revision 5/07/01.

1999: 130 million pounds; 2000: 135 million pounds; 2004: 155 million pounds
Trade data for AMS are not reported by the US Department of Commerce. Exports are believed to be small, if existent. All imports of AMS are believed to originate with Phenolchemie (Germany).

Historical (1995-2000): 3.5 percent per year. Future: 3.5 percent per year through 2004.

Historical (1995-2000): High: High, 50c. per pound, refined, tanks, works, list. Low: 50c. same basis. Current: 50c. same basis.

Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resins, 40 percent; para-cumyl phenol (PCP), 25 percent; adhesives and coatings, 20 percent; waxes, 5 percent; miscellaneous, including resins, tackifiers, antioxidants and intermediates, 10 percent.

AMS demand has increased steadily in its niche markets, including the major outlet to plastics that require high-heat resistance. AMS does not have a serious competitor in these niche uses, and its largest application, in ABS resins, shows little sign of weakening. ABS resins themselves are something of a high-end market and represent the biggest specialty resin.

There is no apparent weakness at this time. AMS supply is tied to phenol production from cumene. Because it can be recycled within this process, the amount of AMS produced can be varied, and this means that supply is generally well balanced with demand.

AMS demand in the US will roughly follow GDP growth or growth of roughly 3.5 percent. In the production of ABS resins, AMS will grow about 3 percent annually. PCP has been growing at more than 10 percent and will continue growing in the double digits. List pricing for AMS has been 50c. per pound since the early 1990s, and this is not expected to increase in the foreseeable future as most sales of AMS are substantially off list. The last off-list price increase of 3c. per pound was announced for October 1999.

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