2-Ethylhexanol (2-EH) Prices and Pricing Information

13 September 2011 11:22  [Source: Chemical Report]

Updated to mid-August 2011


Asian market review by Cheong Su Yeen, ICIS pricing


The Asian 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) spot market remained volatile during the period from mid-May to mid-August. Poor sentiment in the downstream plasticiser, acrylates and solvents sector suppressed buying sentiment.


Prices for cargoes subject to and exempt from import duties fell by $60–100/tonne and $80–90/tonne from their peak in mid-May, to settle at $1,800–1,850/tonne and $1,900–1,910/tonne CFR (cost & freight ) east Asia, respectively. 


However, prevailing supply shortages in the region propelled prices to quickly rebound to $1,880–1,940/tonne and $2,015–2,025/tonne CFR east Asia for the week ending 22 July.


The 2-EH market witnessed a turn of events in end-July when buyers retreated to the sidelines amid growing concerns that the debt crisis in the US and eurozone could potentially slow business activity in the near term.


Spot prices for cargoes subject to and exempt from import duties were assessed at $1,750–1,850/tonne and $1,900–1,950/tonne CFR east Asia, respectively, for the week ending 12 August.


China market review by Sherry Su, ICIS pricing


China’s 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) spot market reported mixed fortunes from mid-May to mid-August.


Domestic prices fell from yuan (CNY) 14,800/tonne in mid-May to CNY13,900/tonne in mid-June, largely because key producers lowered ex-works (EXW) prices in the face of weak demand from the downstream dioctyl phthalate (DOP) sector, dragging local spot prices down.


From mid-June to mid-July, domestic spot prices for 2-EH had rebounded to CNY15,100/tonne, mainly supported by concentrated maintenance implemented at major 2-EH plants in July. Market players became active and traded prices were pushed up by short supply.


However, the market retreated from mid-July to mid-August and prices fell to CNY13,800/tonne. There were two causes behind the drop. First, plants were restarted after maintenance shutdowns, reviving the local supply. Second, demand was weak because downstream markets were in a traditional off-season and power shortages in the summer forced some downstream producers to close plants temporarily.


European market review by Abache Abreu, ICIS pricing


The European 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) market has stabilised as summer downstream shutdowns and slow consumption have improved availability for spot business.


Demand from the downstream plasticisers market has decreased substantially, especially in the dioctyl phthalate (DOP) market, where long-term negative sentiment caused by a gradual shift of demand to alternative REACH-friendly compounds is being exacerbated by seasonally poor buying interest.


Prices have decreased from €1,575–1,625/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) in late May to €1,550–1,600/tonne FD NWE in early August, down by €25/tonne.


However, margins have improved as feedstock propylene contract values have dropped from €1,245/tonne FD NWE in May to €1,115/tonne in August, down by €130/tonne.


In production news, Polish Zaklady Azotowe Kedzierzyn restarted its 132,000 tonne/year 2-EH facility on 25 July after a four-week turnaround. OXEA’s 300,000 tonne/year unit in Oberhausen, Germany, underwent maintenance in late July to early August.


Availability has improved, but global economic uncertainty and China’s tighter lending and inflation curbing measures have limited export activity. Prices have fluctuated at $1,700–$1,800/tonne following some business done in the Asia-Pacific region – the main destination of oxo-alcohols.


US market review by Frank Zaworski, ICIS pricing


US prices for 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) were weaker in the three months to mid-August as softer demand from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and paints and coatings markets, continued to track weakness in the US economic recovery.


Among the oxo-alcohols, 2-EH prices reacted strongly in July to downward volatility in upstream feedstock propylene prices. Supply was adequate to meet softer demand from weaker plasticiser markets.


In the second-half of July, contract 2-EH prices were within the range of $1.37–1.42 cents/lb delivered ($3,019–3,129/tonne) before discounts, down by 5 cents/lb from June. Producers decreased prices in reaction to falling prices for refinery-grade propylene coming off record highs in the prior quarter.


Looking forward, an anticipated improvement in supplies, and better markets for PVC and paints resulting from a recovering economy, were expected to keep 2-EH prices steady to higher over the late summer and early autumn.


Improved prospects for increases in the commercial and home construction industries leant optimism to the US 2-EH market.

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