US March cumene prices increase 3% on feedstocks, healthy demand

16 March 2012 17:14  [Source: ICIS news]

MHOUSTON (ICIS)--US March cumene contract prices increased 3% from the February contracts on Friday, sources said, tracking higher feedstock costs and healthy demand.

Sources confirmed US March contract prices are at 65-67 cents/lb ($1,433-1,477/tonne, €1,089-1,123/tonne) FOB (free on board).

February prices were assessed by ICIS at 63-65 cents/lb FOB.

With March benzene contracts moving higher by just 3 cents/gal, and spot prices for refinery-grade propylene cooling off, there was not as much room for higher cumene as in previous months.

A producer said demand for cumene from the phenol-acetone industry remains healthy, despite lower operating rates.

“We have an incentive to sell material, so we’re running plenty hard,” the producer said. “Almost all of what we’re making is staying in the US.”

Operating rates in the phenol-acetone market are lower than normal because of weak export opportunities into Asia.

However, cumene demand is stronger because of the need of several buyers to build inventories ahead of the expected permanent shutdown of Sunoco’s 545,000 tonne/year Philadelphia cumene unit in Pennsylvania this summer.

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

($1 = €0.76)

By: John Dietrich

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