FocusShort supply to support China BR prices amid soft demand

26 October 2012 09:20  [Source: ICIS news]

By MK Liu

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot domestic prices of butadiene rubber (BR) in China are likely to be supported at current levels by tight supply, as local producers shut facilities amid poor market conditions, industry sources said on Friday.

On 25 October, BR prices were assessed at CNY20,000-20,700/tonne ($3,205-3,317/tonne) EXWH (ex-warehouse) east China, down by CNY500-700/tonne from the previous week, according to Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

"Because of production cuts in [the] domestic market, BR prices may stay firm during such poor market condition,” said a market player.

Sinopec Shanghai Gaoqiao Co’s 120,000 tonne/year BR plant has been shut since 15 October for maintenance, a company source said. The shutdown is expected to last 30 days with production loss estimated at about 10,000 tonnes, the source said.

At Xinjiang province in northwestern China, Dushanzi Petrochemical’s 30,000 tonne/year BR plant at Urumqi has also been taken off line in mid-October for maintenance that is originally scheduled to last about 10 days. The facility has remained shut on Friday.

Xinjiang Land Fine Petrochemical’s 50,000 tonne/year BR plant at Karamay in the same province, meanwhile, was taken off line on 17 October for 15-20 days of maintenance, a company source said, with production loss estimated at 2,100 tonnes.

In Zibo, eastern China, Qilu Petrochemical is planning to shut its 70,000 tonne/year BR plant late this month for 20 days of turnaround. This would translate to a 4,000-tonne reduction in the company’s BR output, a company source said.

Market players were hoping that BR prices would rebound with the tightening supply.

“We want to raise BR prices through production cuts, but demand is very weak and we have to lower our prices,” said another market player market player.

Price falls in related products such as the styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) and natural rubber (NR) are also weighing on China’s domestic BR values, a market player said.

Non-oil grade SBR 1502 were assessed at CNY18,200-19,000/tonne on 25 October, down CNY1,000/tonne from 1 October, while oil extended SBR 1712 were at CNY16,000-16,200/tonne, falling by CNY1,000-1,300/tonne over the same period, according to Chemease.

NR, which traded on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE), also weakened to CNY24,880/tonne on 25 October, down by CNY120/tonne from 1 October

Falling values of feedstock butadiene (BD) also drags down BR prices.

BD prices were assessed at CNY 15,600-15,800/tonne on  25 October, down by CNY400/tonne from the start of the month, according to Chemease.

“Demand for BR is likely to remain flat as the macroeconomic outlook is still uncertain and most downstream tyre makers were adopting a wait-and-see stance and holding back [on] their purchases in view of the market uncertainty,” a BR trader said.

($1 = CNY6.24)

By: MK Liu

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