Europe spot acetone supplies dry up for resale market

25 January 2013 14:11  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--European buyers of acetone for the resale market are struggling to find volume, and this in turn has pushed prices up even further this week, sources said on Friday.

“Acetone is very short right now and there is a tremendous problem to get volumes in the market. Everybody is storing the product - I may be lucky with one truck,” said a trader.

“We've been observing two groups of customers. Some are getting €820-860/tonne ($1,093-1,147/tonne). They complain about increases and they are still below €900/tonne. Then there’s the second group paying above €900/tonne,” the trader added.

The trader said it had asked “everybody” for volume and the answer was “no, no, no”.

Spot acetone prices have been hovering in the €800s/tonne since November last year, but as the effects of reduced operating rates at major producer sites on primary product phenol remain in place, acetone has become a scarce commodity outside long term fixed contracts, not only in Europe but globally.

Business concluded during the early part of this week was still being done in the mid €800s/tonne, but by Friday acetone spot prices had moved up to €950/tonne.

The deals were on a FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) basis.

It was also reported that acetone traded in Antwerp at €1,000/tonne.

One producer even quoted €1,200/tonne as its market price, but at the same time confirmed that it had no material to sell.

Regarding the acetone market, the major producer commented: “I wish I could sell but I don’t have a single kilo. The situation is critical.”

The producer said describing the acetone market as tight was “an understatement”.

It also said it contract partners were worried about availability, however, a major consumer of acetone for the production of methyl methacrylate (MMA) was sounding relaxed about its acetone availability.

“I’m not worried and extremely relaxed”, it said.

However, a smaller maker of MMA was concerned about security of supply and the sharp increase in spot acetone.

“I am a little bit worried. If I ask for a truck I will not get it and my usual supplier will not give it to me. The problem is we are just in January. If phenol does not get better in January, why will it get better in Feb? If things don't get better in February and March we will be in big trouble,” the buyer said.

In the bisphenol A (BPA) market there were also concerns about the availability of acetone, but none for phenol.

A major buyer of both materials for the production of BPAin to polycarbonate (PC) said: “Phenol orders are not a problem, but acetone is much tighter and it’s not so easy [to get].”

Acetone is a byproduct of phenol. For every tonne of phenol produced 0.62 of acetone is made as a by-product.


Author: Julia Mehaan

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