EPCA ’11: Europe phenol outlook hard to predict in uncertain market

02 October 2011 16:52  [Source: ICIS news]

BERLIN (ICIS)--Predicting volumes and prices for 2012 is almost impossible because of so much uncertainty across the petrochemical sector due to economic concerns, producers and consumers across the phenolic chain said on Sunday.

“The key is how to cope with demand and how with cope prices. It’s not a question of inventory management is simply that demand is cooling down,” a major phenol buyer said.

“Asia is weak and Europe is swimming in phenol, in fact producers are having difficulty getting rid of it,” the buyer added on the sidelines of the 45th annual European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting.

Despite the solemn tones, the major phenol consumer said its current plan was to take the same volumes in 2012 although he did not rule out that this might be revised during the course of the year.

The buyer was also focused on the annual fee over benzene for 2012.

He said that on the basis of reduced demand and no phenol export opportunities to Asia, it was seeking a reduction in its annual fee of around €20/tonne ($27/tonne).

Meanwhile, a phenol producer said it was targeting an increase of €30/tonne over benzene for 2012. The seller cited rising energy and transportation costs as key reasons for its intended increase.

“All buyers are supplied today but the market is not 'swimming' in phenol. Demand is there and customers are taking the same volumes in 2012,” he said.

This year’s EPCA meeting runs from 1-4 October.

($1 = €0.75)

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By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214

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