16 March 2011 17:10 [Source: ICIS news]
By Truong Mellor
LONDON (ICIS)--Despite a preliminary upturn in pricing earlier this week brought on by the disaster in ?xml:namespace>
However, the precarious nature of the crude and energy markets at present means the prospect of further volatility in the coming weeks is considerable.
Already struggling with unpredictable movements on crude and energy prices due to unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, aromatics players agreed the initial reaction to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck
In the aftermath, JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp, Idemitsu Kosan and Cosmo Oil all announced that they had shut down their aromatics units in
“We initially saw numbers here in
Indeed, after prices rose early on Tuesday March 15 to breach the $1,300/tonne (€923/tonne) level, with deals reported at $1,300-1,310/tonne CIF (cost, insurance and freight) ARA (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp), a $3/bbl drop on crude futures pulled the bid/offer range back down to $1,240-1,260/tonne by the end of the day.
One supplier commented: “The market in
But what is the overall sentiment in the market so far? Price movements paint a somewhat opaque picture, with concerns over Japanese demand for oil and fuel pulling crude and energy numbers down, while availability issues saw a spike in aromatics values, at least initially.
Consumers in Asia snapped up April and May benzene cargoes earlier this week amid supply concerns, which pushed prices in the region up $35/tonne to $1,215/tonne FOB (free on board)
However, by Wednesday March 16, Asian benzene prices fell by $25-35/tonne to $1,165-1,190/tonne FOB
It is this lack of certainty that is keeping European players unsure of which position to take, according to one trader.
The trader said: “Global developments pushed benzene up, but
Similarly, the European styrene market is currently facing a push and pull of opposing influences.
With seasonal de-icer demand slowing down as the weather improves, players are expecting that this will see reductions in POSM (propylene oxide/styrene monomer) output.
However, other sources expected
The styrene spot market has been relatively rangebound this week in the low to mid $1,400s/tonne, with many players retreating to the sidelines amid uncertainty about the direction of the market.
Styrene values in
One trader commented that the situation in
“The earthquake in
With the spread between European benzene and styrene moving back towards $200/tonne, EBSM (ethyl benzene/styrene monomer) producers were running at improved rates now that the economics were healthier. With the
($1 = €0.71)
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