21 November 2013 13:25 [Source: ICIS news]
BRUSSELS (ICIS)--Russian exports of phenol and acetone are expected to increase, according to a major European trader on Thursday, with phenol in particular characterised by higher production and weak domestic demand.
Speaking at the 12th ICIS World Aromatics and Derivatives conference in Brussels, Adam Popov, CEO of Avestra Chemical Suisse, said there are social factors in the Russian market that will keep production levels buoyed despite weak consumption.
“Economics is not always the crucial factor in Russia,” he said, citing employment stability as an influence on production.
Acetone exports out of Russia will also see further growth, with Turkey and Finland the key destinations. Popov noted that the latter is generally a hub for shipping to other markets, and that little material stays in Finland. Acetone is also exported from Russia to China via railcar, he added.
Benzene availability in Russia has grown increasingly tight, and while there are some imports into the country, the volumes involved are relatively small at less than 10,000 on an annual basis.
“It is more popular to export pygas [pyrolysis gasoline],” Popov said, adding that anywhere between 10,000-15,000 tonnes leave Russia each month.
In the case of styrene, Popov explained that Russia used to be a large exporter, at one point shipping almost 200,000 tonnes to other markets on an annual basis.
However, increased integration of styrene monomer production into derivative markets like expandable polystyrene (EPS) means that there is simply less volume available for export now, and he does not see any change to this dynamic on the horizon.
Popov also noted that import/export duties will present a challenge to Russian petrochemical players in 2014, in particular on phenol, where the pressure of South Korean material in Europe has already been sharply felt this year.
The 12th ICIS World Aromatics and Derivatives conference runs from 20-21 November, 2013.
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