25 August 2011 13:04 [Source: ICIS news]
“Dow and BP have lifted the force majeure on cumene and that’s why we could lift the force majeure on phenol,” the source said.
The company lifted the restriction on phenol on 22 August but availability of cumene remains limited.
“The cumene market is still tight,” the source added.
INEOS Phenol had declared force majeure on phenol production at its Gladbeck, Germany and Antwerp, Belgium facilities on 15 July because of cumene supply problems.
BP Refining & Petrochemicals (BPRP) had declared force majeure on cumene at its plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, because of technical problems on 13 July. As a result, INEOS Phenol had to reduce production to 50%.
Dow then declared force majeure on cumene from Terneuzen in the Netherlands on 15 July because of a problem with the catalyst there.
“We are now trying to run phenol production at close to 100%,” the source added.
INEOS Phenol has a major turnaround planned to start on 9 September at its plant in Antwerp, Belgium. Antwerp has two lines with a combined capacity of 680,000 tonnes/year of phenol and 480,000 tonnes/year of acetone.
There is now concern regarding availability in downstream industries where demand is healthy, such as the bisphenol-A (BPA) and caprolactam sectors. Players are now returning to business following a lull in activity typical during the August holiday period.
Domestic spot prices in the phenol market have risen by €120-150/tonne ($174-217/tonne) since the end of July because of supply limitations and good demand. Spot is valued at €1,320-1,400/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe).
The major uses of phenol involve its conversion to plastics or related materials. Condensation with acetone gives BPA, a key building block for polycarbonates and epoxies. Condensation with formaldehyde gives phenolic resins. Hydrogenation of phenol gives cyclohexanone, an intermediate en route to nylon.
($1 = €0.69)
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