US April cumene contract prices set to roll over on feedstocks

04 April 2012 20:27  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US April cumene contract prices are expected to settle at a rollover to March pricing, sources said on Wednesday.

The April contract should settle at 65-67 cents/lb ($1,433-1,477/tonne, €1,089-1,123/tonne) FOB (free on board). March prices were assessed by ICIS in the same range.

The key feedstock drivers for cumene, benzene and refinery-grade propylene (RGP), went in opposite directions.

April benzene contracts fell by 11 cents/gal, tracking weaker crude and Asian imports.

Spot RGP prices increased by 2.25-3.00 cents/lb in the last week of March for April material, as gasoline demand remains strong and supply is tight.

Cumene demand is stable on steady operating rates around 80% in the key downstream phenol-acetone market.

Operating rates are likely to remain steady in the second quarter because of weak export demand on phenol.

Sources said most cumene producers continue to operate near full capacity in order to supply the market.

Buyers are looking to build phenol-acetone inventories ahead of the expected shutdown of Sunoco’s 545,000 tonne/year Philadelphia cumene unit in Pennsylvania in the 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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