FocusAsian BDO to rise further on firm China market, short supply

14 February 2012 04:22  [Source: ICIS news]

Asian BDO prices are expected to rise furthre in line with the firming Chinese market and tight regional supply.By Quintella Koh

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s butanediol (BDO) prices are expected to strengthen in the coming weeks in line with the firming prices in China on higher feedstock costs, active restocking following the Lunar New Year holiday and tightened regional supply, producers and traders said on Tuesday.

The Chinese BDO prices have increased by $100-150/tonne (€76-114/tonne), or 4.2-6.3%, from last week, they added.

“As buyers, we are aware that we are in a rising BDO market now, but our purchasing intent is still slightly cautious on the end-user side as we are trying adjust to the change in the trading landscape,” a Chinese end-user said.

Bulk-based BDO cargoes changed hands this week at $2,450-2,500/tonne CFR (cost & freight) CMP (China Main Port), several regional producers said.

According to data from ICIS, bulk-based BDO prices were assessed at $2,350-2,400/tonne CFR CMP on 7 February.

A Chinese trader said several of its key customers urgently require BDO cargoes for delivery at the end of February and early March and as is placing orders for prompt shipment cargoes with regional producers as a result.

“Many BDO buyers are running low on inventory as they were too cautious in their purchase efforts in the fourth quarter of last year,” the trader said.

The firming market is causing a panic buying spree, the trader added.

Several regional producers said they received firm bids for bulk-based prompt shipments at $2,500/tonne CFR CMP.

A producer said it is currently adopting a “wait-and-see stance” as it is expecting the bullish trend to hold in the coming weeks.

In eastern China, BDO cargoes were said to have changed hands at yuan (CNY) 17,000/tonne ($2,700/tonne) DEL (delivered) China on 13 February, up by CNY1,000-2,000/tonne from the prices assessed by ICIS on 7 February.

Meanwhile, regional BDO supply is expected to remain tight as Asian producers were running their plants at below full capacity during the fourth quarter because of weak demand.

Taiwan’s Nan Ya Plastics is operating its BDO unit at just above 50% capacity because of narrowing production margins.

Nan Ya Plastics restarted its 60,000 tonne/year No 2 BDO plant in Mailiao on 11 February. The producer is planning to ramp up its BDO operating rates at the plant to 100% capacity by the end of this week, a company source said.

The company is keeping its 40,000 tonne/year No 1 BDO plant at the same site shut, the source added.

Nan Ya Plastics shut its No 1 BDO plant on 20 January and No 2 BDO plant on 24 January because of weak demand and to control its rising BDO inventory levels towards the end of its accounting year in 2011.

“We have just restarted our No 2 BDO plant, but it is unclear what direction the company will take moving forward,” the source said.

“The increase in BDO prices is not keeping pace with our butadiene (BD) feedstock costs,” the source added.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Chemical is maintaining the operating rates at its 60,000 tonne/year BDO plant in Yokkaichi at 70% capacity also because of narrowing production margins.

BDO is produced using four conventional feedstocks, namely BD, propylene oxide (PO), maleic anhydride (MA) and acetylene.

The prices of BD on a CFR northeast (NE) Asia basis was assessed as higher by $450/tonne on 10 February at $3,900-4,000/tonne, according to the ICIS data.

The prices of PO on a CFR China basis were assessed as firmer by $30/tonne on 10 February to be at $1,800-1,880/tonne, the data showed.

MA prices on a CFR southeast Asia (SE) were assessed on 10 February at a $20/tonne increase at the low end of the range to be at $1,600-1,650/tonne.

($1 = €0.76, $1 = CNY6.30)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

By: Quintella Koh
+65 6780 4372

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