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 Q3 2016
Asian phenol prices are expected to stay soft relative to benzene in the third quarter as PTT Phenol and Kumho P&B start up their new phenol plants, while a combination of production cutbacks and mechanical glitches cap northeast Asian BPA output. However, curtailed phenol output in Singapore, a consequence of feedstock supply shortages, alongside the decrease in Chinese phenol output ahead of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, is likely to moderate expected downward price pressure.
US phenol prices are expected to move in tandem with feedstock benzene in the third quarter, with efforts by producers to expand margins likely to meet stiff resistance. While supply early in the quarter will be tight to balanced, supply should lengthen by the end of the quarter, especially as a producer is set to restart a line at its plant.
The European phenol market’s preference for contract over spot is expected to help the market maintain the stability and balance seen in the market throughout the first half of the year. Although August will see two production turnarounds in Europe, these will coincide with the European holiday season and an expected dip in demand.
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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.