US May phenol prices gain 1.4% on higher benzene costs

01 June 2012 21:18  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US May phenol prices increased by 1.4% from April, tracking higher feedstock benzene values, sources said on Friday.

US May phenol contracts were assessed by ICIS at an increase of 1.22 cents/lb ($27/tonne, €22/tonne), at 85.03-89.48 cents/lb FRT EQ (freight equalised).

This matched the increase of the May US benzene contract, which moved higher by 9 cents/gal.

The increase was the same for formula-based and freely negotiated contracts, buyers and producers said.

Buyers argued that export demand for phenol has fallen significantly, especially into Asia.

This means US producers should give buyers with freely negotiated contracts a discount to those with a strict benzene-based formula.

Producers argued that supply is tight because operating rates are lower, and that domestic demand in the US is still improved year on year, although it slowed in May from April.

Additionally, three major phenol producers -- Dow Chemical, Georgia Gulf and Shell Chemical -- had plants down for maintenance in parts of May, tightening supply further.

Other major US phenol producers include Haverhill Chemical, Honeywell, INEOS Phenol and SABIC Innovative Plastics.

($1 = €0.81)

By: John Dietrich

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