Phenol Prices, markets & analysis
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 news and market information products from ICIS
We offer the following regional Phenol analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Phenol marketplace.
Price Reporting – More information about the price reports we publish on Phenol
Independent price assessments and market coverage by region
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Phenol: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2014
European phenol is balanced going into the fourth quarter, with shutdowns well planned and prepared for. Operating rates remain relatively healthy, with good bisphenol A (BPA) and phenolic resin volumes compensating for a weak nylon chain. Price volatility remains, with movements in the benzene price key. This quarter should see heated discussions on the pricing mechanism, with buyers campaigning hard for a reduction of the fee over benzene in 2015 and sellers resolute in their attempt to maintain margin.
US phenol pricing will continue to track benzene contract values, which settled sharply lower at the outset of the fourth quarter. The October benzene drop was the third consecutive decline, and accompanied a decline in spot values, as usual. Operating rates are expected to remain unchanged in the foreseeable future from the longstanding range of 60-70% on the absence of Asian demand for exports during the past two years.
Asian phenol supply is expected to lengthen in the fourth quarter, boosted by the commissioning of three new plants in China which have a combined capacity to produce 800,000/year tonnes of phenol. These new projects are planned by Shanghai Sinopec Mitsui, Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp and Cepsa Quimica. The downtrend in benzene and propylene prices since the third quarter, along with a steady in-flow of deep-sea material to northeast Asia and India from September, are expected to maintain downward pressure on phenol prices in the fourth 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.