Europe acetone spot prices continue to firm on tight supply

01 October 2009 17:35  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--Europe spot acetone prices are continuing to rise because of an acute lack of availability, market sources said on Thursday.

“Acetone is such a rare product, it has turned from a commodity to a speciality, with availability a disaster,” said an active European trader. “I have some drums available but there is not much around,” the trader added.

The trader valued spot acetone at €820-930/tonne ($1,206-1,368/tonne) FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe), almost €100/tonne higher than the previous week’s assessment.

Another European trader said: “Acetone is still very tight and we have seen spot prices increase by €100/tonne in the last eight days. I heard that shipments from overseas were being discussed for second-half November delivery, but this would be too late because December will be a quiet month.” The trader quoted €880-890/tonne FD NWE as a market price for spot acetone.

Meanwhile, a major contract buyer of acetone believed that the recent spike in spot prices would be short-lived. “There is nobody saying that I can’t have the material I need. I believe that the supply and demand balance will correct itself. It’s short term, it’s localised and there is lots of spot material on its way from Asia.”

On the supply side, major producers also spoke about a European shortage of acetone.

One major producer described the situation in southern Europe as “critical” and spoke about “a tremendous lack of product”. A second producer source said that it was “more or less sold out” apart from its local contracts.

Ongoing production restraints on phenol were attributed to the tight supply situation.

The reduced production has been further compounded by various planned and unplanned shutdowns in Europe.

CEPSA Quimica confirmed that it will have a four-week planned shutdown on one of its three lines at Huelva, Spain.

The company has been running only two of its three phenol lines since June 2008.

Polimeri Europa reported that production at its phenol/acetone plant at Mantova, Italy, stopped on 28 September for a planned turnaround.

The Mantova plant was expected to remain down until the end of October.

INEOS Phenol also further reduced its phenol/acetone production because of problems with its cumene supply from BP Refining and Petrochemicals (BPRB).

BPRP recently announced force majeure on ethylene and propylene from its Gelsenkirchen, Germany, site, which also affects cumene production at the site, the INEOS Phenol source said.

France’s Novapex has also been hit by production constraints following a fire which damaged one of its two lines in July. A company source confirmed that it did not expect the plant to be running until the end of October or early November.

European phenol/acetone producers include Borealis, Capro Leuna, CEPSA Quimica, INEOS Phenol, Polimeri Europa and Novapex.

($1 = €0.68)

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By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214



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