Europe spot acetone firms above €1,000/tonne on supply concerns

03 March 2011 09:57  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot acetone prices in Europe have firmed at a rapid pace amid supply concerns and strong demand, with offers above €1,000/tonne ($1,389/tonne), market sources said on Thursday.

“I think the acetone market thinks it’s turned into the benzene market. The price keeps changing so quickly,” said an acetone trader. “Today’s price could easily be different tomorrow.”

A second trader said: “There’s a wide range in the market. The old prices and the new ones. At the moment, I see the spot range at €900-1,020/tonne.”

A third trader said: “Last week I offered €885/tonne free delivered and people thought I was nuts. People were laughing. In Italy now I am hearing €980/tonne free delivered.”

The last time spot acetone was valued at €1,000/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) was in April last year, when the market was plagued by a spate of planned and unplanned shutdowns. At one point at that time, every European acetone producer was experiencing a production problem of some sort.

The only European producer currently to have a production issue is CEPSA Quimica, which is carrying out a planned turnaround at its facility in Huelva, Spain.

Contrary to market reports, a major producer that imports cumene for its phenol production said that even with cumene shortages in the US, where large volumes are exported to Europe for phenol production, there was “enough cumene available”.

Referring to the spike in acetone spot prices, the major producer said: “There is not enough material, especially in the US. And customers are nervous. I [see] spot acetone at €950/tonne. Demand is high so the price is high.”

The €80/tonne month-on-month increase in the price of the feedstock propylene has also affected spot prices, but there were more concerns in the market about availability than feedstock costs.

Buyers were somewhat perplexed by the rates at which acetone spot prices have increased this week.

One buyer said: “So the market is tight but there is material available. I just need to pay more, but not for long I hope.”

(€1 = $0.72)

For more on acetone visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214

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