Europe spot acetone hits €1,000/tonne on supply issues

30 April 2010 16:12  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--The value of European acetone has hit the €1,000/tonne ($1,316/tonne) mark, almost doubling year-on-year because of supply issues, market sources said on Friday.

In the same period last year, spot acetone was valued at €450-500/tonne according to data from global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

Prices were settled on a free delivered (FD) northwest Europe (NWE) basis.

“Ineos is down, Cepsa is down, Borealis is down, Slovnaft is down, the Polish plant is down and Novapex has little material,” said an active trader.

In relation to the spot price, the trader described recent developments as “unbelievable” and confirmed it had lost some orders. “I have heard €1,075/tonne in France and in my opinion we will see €1,100/tonne in May," the trader said.

Another trader supplying the UK market said: “The situation is shocking - it’s a nightmare. I am pitching £1,000/tonne and its looks like I won’t have any product in May.”

Acetone, a by-product of phenol, has been impacted by various phenol production constraints across Europe.

On 23 April, CEPSA Quimica declared force majeure on phenol and acetone from its plant at Huelva, Spain. Major corrosion was detected on CEPSA’s newest line, the third, and an investigation was underway.

Earlier that same day, INEOS Phenol announced it had put phenol customers on 85% allocation for phenol contract volumes, because of problems with the availability of raw materials.

Since then, INEOS Phenol has confirmed its cumene supply problems had been resolved, but allocation was still in place ahead of a planned turnaround.

INEOS Phenol will enter into a 14-day planned turnaround at its Gladbeck site in Germany on 18 May. The site has a capacity of 650,000 tonnes/year of phenol and 395,000 tonnes/year of acetone.

In addition, Borealis began a shutdown in early April at its 195,000 tonne/year phenol and 120,000 tonne/year acetone facilities in Porvoo, Finland, which was to last four to five weeks.

Referring to the supply situation on phenol and acetone, a European producer said: “It’s really a mess. Customers … are desperate [for product].”

The producer said the value of acetone was moving up €30-40/tonne on a daily basis. “From one day to the other acetone spot prices are moving up by €30-40/tonne. It’s €1,000/tonne and it will keep going [up], but it’s not a realistic situation,” it said.

Another producer who bought a truck of acetone this week said it had paid €1,030/tonne FCA (free carrier alongside) and it was receiving enquiries from across Europe.

Despite reports of tightness in the spot market, major contract buyers for the production of methyl methacrylate (MMA) said contracts were being honoured, with one buyer saying it had too much material.

“There is no problem with supply [for contracts] and we have got all we need for May. The situation is fine in contract, but spot prices are high,” the major buyer said.

($1 = €0.76)

For more on acetone visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214



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