US October cumene prices fall by 16% on lower feedstocks, demand

06 October 2011 17:48  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US October cumene contract prices fell by 16% from September as feedstocks tumbled and demand softened, sources said on Thursday.

US October cumene prices were assessed by ICIS at 53–55 cents/lb ($1,168–1,213/tonne, €876–910/tonne) FOB (free on board), down from 63–65 cents/lb FOB in September.

The biggest reason for the decline was the fall in feedstock benzene, which dropped by 68 cents/gal in October from September.

Cumene’s other key feedstock, propylene, has also been declining. Spot values for refinery-grade propylene (RGP) have fallen below 60 cents/lb.

Cumene demand is also softer, especially on the merchant market. A producer said it is not seeing premiums on material above feedstock costs.

Almost all cumene is used in the production of phenol and acetone, which are co-products.

Phenol demand is the main driver of phenol-acetone production, and is softening as the fourth quarter approaches.

Sources said phenol demand is softer because several derivatives are related to construction, which tapers off in the cooler weather.

Also, Asian phenol prices have softened, reducing export opportunities for US producers.

Major US cumene producers include CITGO, Dow Chemical, Flint Hills Resources, Georgia Gulf, Marathon and Shell Chemical.

($1 = €0.75)

For more on cumene visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: John Dietrich

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