FocusAsia BD rebounds on restocking; poor demand to limit uptrend

26 June 2012 06:10  [Source: ICIS news]

By Helen Yan

BD goes into the production of synthetic rubbers, which are used in the manufacture of tyres for the automotive industry.SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot butadiene (BD) prices in Asia may rise further in July on restocking, but the uptrend may be short-lived because of continued weakness in demand, while supply will be augmented by deep-sea shipments, industry sources said on Tuesday.

About 30,000 tonnes of European BD will arrive in Asia in July and August, they said.

In the week ended 22 June, spot BD was assessed at $1,920-1,950/tonne CFR (cost and freight) northeast (NE) Asia, up by $50-120/tonne (€40-96/tonne) from the previous week, according to ICIS.

“More buyers are looking to buy as they are restocking and they can pay more than $2,000/tonne CFR NE Asia. But the market outlook is still uncertain and it is not clear whether the price uptrend is sustainable,” a trader said.

Players across the commodities and equities markets continue to worry about the weakening global economy, as the eurozone debt crisis remains unresolved, the US economy still fragile and the Chinese economy slowing down.

Buying interest for BD in China has recently gained momentum with a number of domestic crackers due for maintenance in the next two months, thereby limiting the availability of spot material.

Yangzi Petrochemical, Sinopec SABIC Tianjin Petrochemical and Liaoning Huajin Tongda Chemical are scheduled to take their crackers off line for turnaround.

Last week’s BD price rebound was triggered by a supply disruption, following a power outage at the Mailiao complex of Taiwanese producer Formosa Petrochemical Corp (FPCC) on 20 June.

The shutdown of company’s crackers and downstream facilities at the site forced FPCC to delay shipments of about 3,000 tonnes of BD, market sources said.

The company has three crackers with a combined capacity of 2.93m tones/year, while its BD units have a combined capacity of 450,000 tonnes/year.

Its 1.03m tonne/year No 2 cracker and its1.2m tonne/year No 3 cracker were shut because of the power outage, while the 700,000 tonne/year No 1 cracker was taken off line a day earlier on 19 June for maintenance.

Until the FPCC outage, BD prices in Asia had steadily declined for four straight months, shedding as much as 55% from $4,000/tonne in early February this year, according to ICIS data.

In southeast Asia, supply is also currently limited as Bangkok Synthetics’ (BST) 140,000 tonne/year BD unit in Thailand has remained shut since 5 May, when a fire and explosion damaged the facility’s pipelines.

BST’s BD unit is expected to be down until September, according to a market source.

“The [BD price] upside is still there, but the downstream demand may not be strong enough to sustain a BD price uptrend,” a trader said.

Should BD prices continue to increase, downstream synthetic rubber producers are inclined to cut production, market sources said.

($1 = €0.80)

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

By: Helen Yan
+65 6780 4359

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