For those looking to keep abreast of the global Phenol market, our independent, unbiased pricing information, news and market analysis is an invaluable resource.
Whether you buy or sell Phenol or related products, you need to know about the prices and the factors driving the prices in the global Phenol market as they happen. Our network of price reporters throughout Asia, Europe and the US provide key local insights. We collate this intelligence into daily and weekly price reports, ensuring you have the up-to-date information you need at all times.
Phenol Overview Transcript
The global phenol market is structurally short and will remain so until new capacities starts to come on stream in Asia over the next few years.
Demand for phenol derivatives is set to remain steady in Europe, Asia and the US. This is because demand in downstream markets such as bisphenol A, caprolactam, adipic acid and phenolic resins is likely to remain subdued in the near term.
Global economic uncertainty and slow growth in developed markets will play their parts to aid stability. There is some concern over the supply of cumene, an upstream chemical, which may itself become short, tightening supply.
The other challenges facing the market for phenol are sharp fluctuations in the benzene price which can be hard to pass on to consumers in downstream markets where prices are negotiated rather than set on a formula basis.
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Phenol: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2016
Some US phenol sellers were seeking higher contract pricing heading into the second quarter. While sellers were generally successful in securing increased contract adders in January, they began to push for an additional increase of 1-2 cents/lb to help restore profitability, following declines in benzene. Given that phenol supply remains plentiful, buyers were resisting further price hikes.
The European market is expected to remain balanced as it moves into the second quarter. The market’s reliance on contract is expected to help protect supply and demand dynamics in the face of planned turnarounds in the latter part of the first quarter and in the second quarter. Producers are hoping to improve margins in the second quarter, after lower-than-expected first quarter benzene prices negatively impacted margins.
Asian phenol prices staged a strong recovery in the first quarter, lifted by sturdy Indian demand for spot imports and a combination of feedstock shortage, decreased output and routine maintenance. However, the scheduled commissioning of two new plants in Asia, operated by Thailand’s PTT Phenol and South Korea’s Kumho P&B, is expected to add length to an oversupplied market in the second quarter.
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Phenol occurs as colourless to yellow crystals, with a characteristic carbolic odour which turns pink on exposure to light and air. It is strongly hydroscopic, liquefying in moist air. It is moderately dissolvable in water, but very soluble in ether, methyl and ethyl alcohol, carbon tetrachloride, acetic acid, glycerol, benzene and chlorinated hydrocarbons. The solution in water is a weak acid.
The main chemical intermediates and derivatives of phenol are bisphenol-A (BPA) used to make polycarbonate (PC) and epoxy resins, phenolic resins, caprolactam, alkylphenols, aniline and adipic acid. The largest market for phenol is BPA followed by phenolic resins.
Cumene-based technology is the dominant process to produce phenol. Here, benzene and propylene are reacted to form cumene, which is oxidised to the hydroperoxide, followed by acid-catalysed cleavage to yield phenol and acetone.