Europe April phenol contract price moves down on benzene

05 April 2012 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The European April phenol contract price has decreased by €37/tonne following the same reduction in the April benzene contract, phenol producers and consumers said on Thursday.

The April phenol contract price settled on a pre-discounted basis at €1,454-1,494/tonne FD NWE /tonne ($1,913-1,966/tonne) FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe).

The phenol contract in Europe is 100% formula-related to the European benzene contract price and supply/demand balance has no influence over the settlement.

Because the market has been tight during the first quarter, supplies of European phenol need to be well managed during the second quarter following, and ahead of, planned outages, as well as expectations of healthy demand in the second quarter, market sources said.

“I don’t think the phenol market is really tight, but availability is limited because of the INEOS Phenol outage in April,” a trader had said on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC) in San Antonio, Texas.

INEOS Phenol confirmed that the Gladbeck turnaournd in Germany will start on 15 April, with a planned start-up date of 15 May.

The European market has been tight for much of the first quarter because of planned and unplanned turnarounds, as well as “surprisingly” good demand for some phenol derivatives.

However, following the restart of CEPSA Quimica’s plant in Spain and the lifting force majeure at Novapex's facility in France, buyers are more relaxed about the level of phenol available in the market at present.

Concerns remain about INEOS Phenol and whether it will be able to bring its plant back on stream in mid-May as planned, but a company source said: “There is no reason for the plant not to start on time.”

Meanwhile, downstream demand remains steady but some sources say it could be better.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214

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