FocusAsia eyes more benzene exports to US on high margins

20 July 2012 12:00  [Source: ICIS news]

By Mahua Chakravarty

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian benzene suppliers are in a rush to ship out bigger volumes of the aromatics product to the US market this month to take advantage of current high margins on exports, market sources said on Friday.

From South Korea alone, more than 60,000 tonnes are expected to be exported to the US in July, while countries like India and Japan are also expected to ship out about 20,000 tonnes to the same destination, market sources said.

The volume in July is likely to be roughly double the 40,000-tonne average monthly benzene exports of Asia to the US, market sources said.

Margins for shipping benzene to the West have been robust in the past few weeks, as US benzene prices soared on tight availability of prompt cargoes.

Benzene prices in the US are currently higher than in the Asian market by $260-310/tonne (€211-251/tonne), while freight costs are estimated at just about $60-70/tonne, market sources said.

US benzene spot prices were at $4.80-5.00/gal or $1,435-1,495/tonne FOB Barges late on Thursday, while Asian values were hovering at $1,175-1,185/tonne FOB Korea on Friday, according to ICIS.

“But no one cares about the freight now, when the margins are so high,” a Korean producer said.

Asia is a net exporter of benzene to the US and Europe, while the US is the world’s largest importing nation of the aromatics product.

South Korea is the biggest exporter of benzene in Asia, with monthly exports to the US estimated at around 50,000-60,000 tonnes in combined spot and contract volumes, based on official figures in the first half of the year.

Korea International Trade Association (KITA) data showed that South Korea shipped out a total of 315,280 tonnes of benzene to the US in January to June 2012.

South Korea’s benzene shipments to the US between 1-16 July were at 46,477 tonnes, according to a separate industry data.

Benzene exports from South Korea to the US 

Month (2012)

Tonnes

January

56,681

February

50,405

March

74,151

April

24,017

May

69,457

June

40,570

Source: KITA

($1 = €0.81)


By: Mahua Chakravarty
+65 6780 4359



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