S Korea Apr benzene exports to US fall on closed arbitrage window

03 May 2013 05:07  [Source: ICIS news]

Busan port in South KoreaSINGAPORE (ICIS)--South Korea’s benzene exports to the US stood at slightly above 20,000 tonnes in April, down by half from March as the window for arbitrage trades failed to open during the month, market players said on Friday.

Average spot prices in the US for prompt cargoes in April were at $4.45/gal (€3.43/gal) FOB (free on board) Gulf, while spot prices in Asia for cargoes loading in zero to six weeks forward averaged $1,303/tonne FOB Korea, according to ICIS.

The price gap of about $30/tonne was insufficient to cover freight cost for a 15,000-tonne vessel from Asia to the US, market players said.

A total of 21,296 tonnes of benzene were shipped out to the US last month by two South Korean producers.

“These cargoes were on contract basis, so regardless of the negligible price spread between [Asia and the US] we still had to move cargoes over,” said a source at one of the two South Korean producers.

In March, the US received 42,821 tonnes benzene of South Korean origin.

A third aromatics producer in South Korea and a northeast Asian trader that is active in the benzene market decided to skip spot exports to the US.

“The price is just not doable,” the trader said.

($1 = €0.77)

Author: Ong Sheau Ling

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