17 August 2009 19:50 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Second-quarter US benzene production was estimated at 356.9m gal (1.35bn litres), well below the 451.2m produced in second-quarter 2008, according to data made available on Monday by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA).
However, second-quarter production was up 18% from 301.6m gal in the first quarter, the NPRA said.
The quarter-on-quarter increase followed three quarters of declining benzene production rates.
Meanwhile, the first quarterly inventory drop in six months, at 107.7m gal in second-quarter 2009, reinforced what market participants said was a strong export market during the first half of the year.
Fourth-quarter 2008 and first-quarter 2009 inventories rose to 112.2m gal and 136.3m gal, respectively.
First-half US benzene imports dropped steeply year over year, while exports rocketed above 2008 levels on the back of draws to Asia.
Export demand for the benzene derivative styrene also accounted for part of the inventory drop that occurred despite higher production levels, market sources said.
Styrene exports increased by 10% during the first half of 2009 compared with the year-earlier quarter, according to data from the US International Trade Commission (ITC).
Benzene production in the first six months of 2009 was 29% lower than in 2008, while styrene production declined by only 16%, the NPRA data showed.
Major US benzene producers include BP, Flint Hills Resources, ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell, Sunoco and Total.
( $1 = €0.70 )
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