FocusChina BD may extend falls as imports boost domestic supply

09 August 2012 03:33  [Source: ICIS news]

By MK Liu

BD is a raw material for synthetic rubbers, which go into the production of tyres for the automotive industry. SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China's butadiene (BD) spot prices may fall further as demand remains weak while supply is being augmented by imports, industry sources said on Thursday.

Domestic BD prices were assessed at yuan (CNY) 17,800-18,000/tonne ($2,798-2,830/tonne) on 8 August, down by 12% or CNY2,200/tonne from 20 July, according to Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

“BD prices may fall to around CNY15,000/tonne if there is more-than-sufficient supply in [the] domestic market and no revival in fundamental demand,” a major BD producer said.

Imported cargoes are currently making up for the current shortfall in domestic production because of scheduled turnarounds at BD facilities in China.

In July, China imported a total of 16,000 tonnes of BD, official data showed. The figure is about 38% or 6,000 tonnes more than the country’s monthly imports of the material.

With more BD shipments coming in amid continued weakness in demand from downstream synthetic rubber makers, BD prices have been on a continuous downtrend since mid-July.

“BD imports volumes may increase to 40,000 tonne for July and August to fill [the supply] gap in the domestic market,” a market player said.

Between July and August, an estimated 34,000-38,000 tonnes will be shaved from China’s domestic BD production because of scheduled turnarounds at facilities, industry sources said.

China’s Sinopec YPC Petrochemical has been running its 220,000/tonne BD plant at Nanjing at reduced rates, as its upstream naphtha cracker is currently shut for a 50-day maintenance from 15 July, a company source said.

The low run rate will lead to production losses of about 5,000 tonnes of BD, the source said.

Liaoning Huajin Tongda Chemical, meanwhile, has shut down its 100,000 tonne/year BD unit at Liaoning on 3 August for 30 days of regular maintenance, a company source said. Output loss from the shutdown is expected at 7,000-9,000 tonnes, the source said.

Sinopec SABIC Tianjin, on the other hand, is planning to shut its 200,000 tonne/year BD unit at Tianjing on 22 August for a 30-day maintenance, with BD production loss estimated at 22,000-24,000 tonnes, a company source said.

"We have to purchase imported cargoes to keep our plants running at a stable operating rate,” a downstream synthetic rubber producer said.

BD is a raw material for synthetic rubbers, which go into the production of tyres for the automotive industry.

But overall BD demand from the downstream synthetic rubber sector is still weak as some facilities are also either shut or due to be taken off line for maintenance.

China's YPC-GPRO (Nanjing) Rubber has shut its 100,000 tonne/year styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) plant in Nanjing on 8 August for 40 days of maintenance.

TSRC-UBE (Nantong) Chemical Industrial’s 72,000 tonne/year butadiene rubber (BR) plant in Jiangsu province was taken off line on 28 July for about a month of routine maintenance.

Tianjin Lugang Petroleum Rubber also has a scheduled maintenance at its 100,000 tonne/year SBR plant starting 10 August, market sources said. The plant shutdown will last 50 days, they said.

($1 = CNY6.36)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections
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By: MK Liu

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