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Maleic anhydride Europe Transcript
Maleic anhydride or MA has two feedstocks n-butane and benzene. In Europe plants are predominantly based on n-butane, but outside of Europe, the main feedstock is benzene.
MA is used in a wide variety of applications, but its major use is in the unsaturated polyester resins market. That accounts for over 50% of all MA usage. UPRs are use in construction, automotive and marine applications.
The key price drivers for MA are supply and demand and feedstock costs.
Maleic anhydride is imported but not in large quantities. Solid imports from Asia are the most common. Liquid imports are rare, because solid temperature controls make shipping logistically difficult. However, some liquid material does enter the European market from America.
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Updated to Q1 2016
The European maleic anhydride (MA) first-quarter contract price settled at a significant drop, after negotiations took longer than usual.
The Q1 price was assessed down by €170/tonne to €1,400-1,450/tonne (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe). The price reported by ICIS is pre-discounted.
A number of factors contributed to the steep decreases. The market was slow to react to crude oil price falls last year, partly because most players negotiate only once a quarter.
Separately, it is difficult to track the price of feedstock n-butane, which again makes it difficult for buyers to calculate MA production costs.
The market has been further depressed by competitive imports of Asian origin.
Spot prices fell significantly and in late March were assessed at €920-1,020/tonne FD NWE for liquid and €1,020-1,070/tonne FD NWE for flake MA.
The recent recovery of crude oil, combined with improving seasonal demand, however, has made some players believe the market is at the bottom now and will soon stabilise, if not start moving up.
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