Styrene Prices, markets & analysis
For those looking to keep abreast of the global Styrene market, our independent, unbiased pricing information, news and analysis of the Styrene monomer markets is an invaluable resource.
Whether you buy or sell Styrene monomer or related products, you need to know about the prices and the factors driving the prices in the global Styrene 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.
Our editor gives their expert view
Styrene Overview Transcript
Styrene is a liquid chemical which is used to manufacture a wide range of products in two basic groups: plastic resins and synthetic rubber. The raw materials for styrene are benzene and ethylene which are produced from naphtha in an integrated plant.
In the plastic group, styrene is made into polystyrene, EPS, ABS, SAN and UPR. These resins then go into consumer electronics, office equipment, toys, and automobiles as well as the packaging construction and infrastructure sectors.
The other group that styrene goes into is synthetic rubber like styrene butadiene rubber, and styrene butadiene latex. These synthetic rubbers are then used to make items like automobile tyres and a host of rubber products.
The main merchant market for styrene is China, which has been growing at a relatively high rate annually. The Asian styrene market is spot driven, with values of most term contracts derived from spot prices.
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Styrene: Market overview
Supply concerns for prompt material and growing bullishness across global markets have helped support European styrene pricing so far in 2014, and the upcoming turnaround season in Asia is likely to divert US material away from the ARA region and keep pressure on availability. Some higher numbers in both the US and Asia have helped support European levels so far in January, with Asia trending upward and the market there in a firm contango for February ahead of the planned turnarounds across the region. There are also lingering concerns about prompt availability in Europe following last month’s strike action at Total’s site in Gonfreville, France. While prompt material is available, sellers are wary of dropping prices and were keeping offers firm.
Nevertheless, this bullishness was counteracted by other players watching downstream markets in Europe, where demand is traditionally slow to start the year in line with sporadic construction industry offtake.
The US styrene market was mixed in the fourth quarter of 2013, as prices followed direction from the feedstock benzene sector. Spot prices declined to yearly lows in October and November, only to rebound in late December on stronger benzene prices and tight supply. Shell remains on force majeure on styrene out of its facility in Alberta, Canada, since late November, while Styrolution’s Texas City, Texas, facility remains on a 65-day shutdown, which began in November. US trade participants expect 2014 to see supply remain tight alongside moderate growth in some consumer areas, such as unsaturated polyester resins (UPR). In addition, some suppliers expect to see more of a disconnect between the styrene market and feedstock benzene costs.
Expectations of tighter supply in the first and second quarter kept the Asian styrene market in a contango. Scheduled maintenance at several regional plants from February to April has fuelled talks of potentially snug supply in the first half of 2014 since late last year. Shore tank inventories along eastern China remained at around 50,000 tonnes in January, lower than the usual 60,000-70,000 tonnes on average each month. Limited plant expansions and new capacities planned for in 2014 may also worsen any tight supply situation in Asia this year, traders said. However, with benzene supply in Asia set to increase by more than 1m tonnes this year on plant expansions, prices Asian styrene could still come under downward pressure if benzene values tumble, although tight availability could help limit the downside to a certain degree.
Updated to mid-Jan 2014
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Styrene Asia Weekly Margin Report Methodology
Styrene Europe Margin Report Methodology
Styrene US Margin Report Methodology
Pure styrene is a colourless to yellow, oily liquid that evaporates easily and has a sweet smell. Styrene is highly flammable, forms explosive mixtures in air, is dangerous when exposed to flame, heat or oxidants and on decomposition, emits acrid fumes.
Styrene is mainly used in the manufacture of homopolymers and copolymers. These include polystyrene (PS), expandable polystyrene (EPS), styrene copolymers (such as acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resins, styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) and styrene-butadiene latexes), styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) and unsaturated polyester resins.
Styrene is produced predominately by ethylbenzene (EB)-based technology. EB is first made by the catalytic alkylation of benzene with ethylene and then dehydrogenated to styrene. The coproduction of styrene with propylene oxide (PO) by the PO/SM process had been gaining popularity.