13 December 2012 21:36 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--First quarter US detergent alcohol contract negotiations at mid-December show early settlements down from the fourth quarter, primarily driven by lower feedstock palm kernel oil (PKO) prices, buyers and sellers said on Thursday.
“We are seeing more downward movement,” one natural alcohol seller acknowledged.
Natural and synthetic detergent-range alcohols in the C12-15 group were assessed in the fourth quarter at 97-110 cents/lb ($2,138-2,425/tonne, €1,625-1,843/tonne), down 8 cents/lb across the range from the third quarter.
Early indications for first-quarter 2013 detergent range alcohol contracts show expectations for a similar loss.
The main driver for the downward trend during the last half of 2012, now poised to stretch into the first quarter of 2013, is widely moderated feedstock PKO prices.
PKO prices this week lost about $35/tonne from this previous week to market prices at about $659/tonne DEL south Malaysia, according to regional sources.
Natural, PKO-based, producers – mostly importers - must also now contend with synthetic producers in the US that are able to benefit from consistently lower natural gas costs readily available in this country.
“This is not a profitable time for many fatty alcohol suppliers,” one importer said.
Procter & Gamble and Cognis are domestic natural fatty alcohol producers, while Shell and Sasol produce synthetic alcohols from ethylene and natural gas feedstocks. .
VVF, Musim Mas, Ecogreen and Kao are among the alcohol importers to the US, all PKO feedstock-based.
Detergent alcohol end-uses include household and industrial surfactants and other cleaning aids.
($1 = €0.76)
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