EU benzene exports down by 50% year on year in Q1 2013

01 July 2013 16:02  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Benzene exports from the EU to the rest of the world were down by 50% for the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, according to data released by Eurostat.

Imports into the EU from the rest of the world, however, showed a 23% year-on-year increase for the first quarter, reflecting the bullishness for European pricing seen so far this year. January and March 2013 in particular saw import levels move much higher than the usual structural imports into Europe.

Global benzene spot Q1 2013After the European benzene contract for January was settled at a record high of $1,529/tonne (€1,153/tonne in euro terms), this saw an influx of material coming into the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) region.

However, a strong US market during January also saw exports start to leave Europe across the Atlantic, but this was short-lived as global pricing began to ease off alongside falling Asian numbers and struggling derivative markets.

By March, European benzene numbers moved down to their lowest point since May 2012 on weak demand and global bearishness, but this downtrend was seen both in the US and Asia, which kept arbitrage opportunities from Europe into other regions limited.

Notably, the first quarter of 2012 saw a sharp rise in European pricing over the course of January, and this kept export opportunities from the US Gulf region limited into February when this trend was reversed, with prices there moving up while Asian spot benzene numbers remained the lowest globally.

This would seen some material leave Europe for the US during this period, which arguably explains why the export level is down this year compared to the first quarter of 2012, aided by the tight spread between the three regions during the first quarter of 2013.

Benzene import and export data by Eurostat (units: tonnes)

Period

IMPORT

EXPORT

Q1 2012

128,692

69,596

Q1 2013

158,761

34,576

 

 

 

Volume difference in tonnes 

30,069

35,020

% change year on year

23%

50%

($1 = €0.77)


By: Truong Mellor
+44 208 652 3214



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