Europe November MDI stable on mixed contracts, balanced market

07 November 2012 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)-- European November methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) contract prices have rolled over for both crude and pure grades, despite firmer benzene feedstock costs, because of the mix of quarterly and monthly business and a fairly balanced market, market players said on Wednesday.

Contract prices were assessed steady at €2,030-2,150/tonne ($2,603-2,756/tonne) FD (free delivered) WE (western Europe) for the crude product and €2,130-2,200/tonne FD WE for pure product, according to ICIS.

Sellers said there was an underlying need to increase due to high benzene feedstock costs, but it was not the right time to do so because of a large proportion of contracts already being fixed for the quarter, particularly for crude MDI.

In addition, buyers and sellers agree that any attempts to increase prices would be thwarted by the seasonal slowdown for crude MDI into the main downstream construction sector over the winter months, as well as ongoing economic constraints, which are limiting building activity to some extent, particularly in the Mediterranean.

Crude MDI demand into the downstream automotive sector is soft, because of poor macroeconomic conditions.

For pure MDI, activity in the downstream footwear sector is reasonably good, but it is expected to seasonally pick-up over the next few months, although this has not yet materialised.

The MDI market is largely described as balanced, despite production constraints for some main players, as this is being offset by reasonable to slowing demand.

In production news, BASF’s MDI plant at Antwerp in Belgium has restarted, albeit at reduced operating rates for technical and feedstock-related reasons.

The unit has recently undergone a planned outage, which started in early September and which was previously expected to last until mid-October, but this was later extended.

Planned maintenance took place during the outage period. There was also some market talk that the outage included some capacity expansion, although this was not confirmed at source.

Dow Chemical’s MDI plant at Stade in Germany continues to run at reduced rates because of ongoing feedstock constraints. The unit experienced the same limitations during October as well.

Huntsman’s smaller MDI facility at Rozenburg, in the Netherlands, underwent planned maintenance in the second half of November for around one week.

($1 = €0.78)

By: Heidi Finch
+44 20 8652 3214

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