No change for stagnant phenol market in Europe

18 October 2013 14:02  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The phenol market in Europe is stagnant and no major shifts in balance are expected, sources said this week.

“There is nothing new to say about phenol. It is what it is. The bisphenol A (BPA) market is a mess and until this mess is cleared up, we will see phenol rates low,” said a trader of phenol and acetone.

Phenol operating in Europe are estimated to be running at 60-70% because of low demand, not just for BPA but for other phenol derivatives, such as nylon intermediates and phenolic resins. However, phenolic resins seem to be the better performing derivative.

“Resins is the more healthy application,” a resins maker said. “Quarter one was a little difficult, but by April consumption was at a very high rate - but margins are a different story.”

For nylon intermediates, demand is weak, but volumes are not so bad. Sources deemed prices to be the more critical problem.

A buyer expected tough price discussions in the approach to 2014. “I tried to go back to reality and started to follow raw materials in 2008. The range then was benzene plus €150-200/tonne and that was when market conditions were good, so this was the right position,” the buyer said.

“We need to stay at a decent price level and find a new equilibrium,” the buyer added.

Meanwhile, in BPA market, the mood remains very downbeat, with the major concern being competitively priced imports flooding the market.

“[BPA] demand is still weak and prices are determined by Asian and Russian molecules - European producers can't compete with these levels,” said a BPA trader.

In relation to the BPA price pressure being felt in Europe caused by imports, a producer said: “We couldn’t go any lower if [we] tried.”

($1 = €0.74)

By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214

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