NPRA '11: Europe aromatics prices cool after months of rising values

27 March 2011 22:42  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--Prices in the European aromatics sector have started to cool after months of rising values on the back of restricted availability and production issues, a major European styrene producer said on Sunday.

“Benzene has touched the ground in the last week, although the disaster in Japan did initially lead to a jump in prices. The market seems to be back below $1,200/tonne (€852/tonne) now,” the producer said on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC).

The March European benzene contract was agreed at $1,378/tonne FOB (free on board) NWE (northwest Europe) and converted to the euro price of €1,001/tonne at the officially agreed exchange rate of €1 to $1.3766.

Firm crude values, strong demand and a spate of shutdowns earlier this year pushed European benzene levels as high as $1,400/tonne, but the arrival of imports from Asia this month have brought price ideas down ahead of the April contract settlement.

One European benzene trader referred to an “armada of vessels” arriving in March and early April, with up to 30,000 tonnes still scheduled to land in the ARA (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp) region during the first half of April.

Consequently, European styrene barge contracts for April are expected to drop by at least €70/tonne on the back of weaker feedstock costs, despite the continued upward momentum for ethylene, the styrene producer explained.

The producer added that the ongoing situation in Libya and the Middle East had halted the downward correction for styrene that had been expected since late February.

Hosted by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), the IPC continues through Tuesday.

($1 = €0.71)

For more on aromatics visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Truong Mellor
+44 208 652 3214

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