13 May 2002 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]
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CUMENE May 13, 2002
|Chevron Phillips Chemical, Port Arthur, Tex.||
|Citgo Petroleum, Corpus Christi, Tex.||
|Coastal Eagle Point, Westville, N.J.||
|Georgia Gulf, Pasadena, Tex.||
|JLM Chemicals, Blue Island, Ill.||
|Koch Petroleum, Corpus Christi, Tex.||
|Marathon Ashland Petroleum, Catlettsburg, Ky.||
|Shell Chemical, Deer Park, Tex.||
Historical (1996-2001): High, 24.7 cents per pound, contract, US Gulf, tanks, works; low, 15.7 cents, same basis. Current: 19.3 cents, same basis.
Phenol/acetone, 98 percent; alpha-methylstyrene, 2 percent.
Historical (1996-2001): 2.9 percent per year; Future: 3.0 percent per year through 2005.
2000: 7.67 billion pounds; 2001: 6.89 billion pounds; 2005: 7.76 billion pounds. Demand equals production less exports, which were 254 million pounds in 2000 and 215 million pounds in 2001). Imports are negligible.
The shift to zeolite-based catalysts in recent years has had a major impact on cumene production. Conversion to a zeolite-based process allows for gains in product purity, overall yield and production capacity, by allowing a much lower benzene-to-propylene feed ratio to operate. The effect has been to grow the installed capacity base without installing new hardware.
Ninety-eight percent of cumene is consumed for the production of phenol and acetone. Therefore, demand for cumene is strongly tied to the phenol market. The phenol and acetone markets continue to be hurt by overcapacity, flat pricing and weak demand. The market is yet another casualty of the global economic downturn as demand for bisphenol-A, the leading use for phenol, is down from reduced demand for polycarbonate and epoxy resins. Before 2001, US polycarbonate had been enjoying growth of almost 5 percent per year. Phenol demand depends on economic recovery, and consequently, so does cumene.
Demand for cumene fell sharply last year due to the collapse in phenol demand. With the improving economy this year, phenol's derivatives will begin a new market pull that will translate into a return to growth for cumene. US cumene demand is projected to grow at 3 percent annually through 2005. With the exception of Sunoco as noted above, the significant cumene capacity additions will take place in the Asia Pacific region (1.14 billion pounds) and Europe (638 million pounds) during the next three years.
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