FocusAsia BD may extend gains; plant start-up delays tighten supply

19 September 2013 05:04  [Source: ICIS news]

By Helen Yan

BD is a raw material for synthetic rubbers, which are used in the manufacture of tyres for the automotive industry.SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot butadiene (BD) prices in Asia are set to rise further in the near term as delays in start-up of new plants led to a tighter-than-expected supply in the market, industry sources said on Thursday.

Some 350,000 tonnes/year in additional BD capacity that was supposed to come on stream in July-August did not materialise, partly because of continued weakness in the downstream synthetic rubber market, industry sources said.

The BD supply crunch has spurred traders to hike offers to more than $1,450/tonne (€1,073/tonne) CFR (cost and freight) NE (northeast) Asia for October shipments.

“We  have received several enquiries from customers in China, Taiwan and Indonesia, and are targeting $1,500/tonne CFR NE Asia for October shipments,” a Japanese trader said.

On 13 September, BD spot prices averaged  $1,325/tonne CFR NE Asia, racking up gains of about 52% from 19 July, according to ICIS data.

Sichuan Petrochemical’s 150,000 tonne/year unit in China, CPC’s 100,000 tonne/year unit in Taiwan and Chandra Asri’s 100,000/tonne facility in Indonesia failed to commence operations as originally planned, industry sources said.

Spot cargoes available in the market are scarce, with a number of Asian BD producers out of October stocks at a time when deep-sea supply from Europe is dwindling, industry sources said.

“We have sold out our October cargoes and have no spot available,” a major South Korean producer said.

Downstream synthetic rubber producers, on the other hand, are resisting further spikes in BD prices that are eroding their margins amid continued weakness in demand.

“We have no margins as the BD price is moving up too fast while the synthetic rubber price is lagging behind and there is a lot of resistance to price increases for synthetic rubber,” a northeast Asian synthetic rubber producer said.

Spot prices of butadiene rubber (BR), a type of synthetic rubber, averaged $1,800/tonne CFR NE Asia on 12 September. BR prices increased by 12% from 25 July – barely half the 52% jump in BD prices in roughly the same period, according to ICIS data.

Synthetic rubbers are used in the manufacture of tyres for the automotive industry.

($1 = €0.74)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

By: Helen Yan
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