Bitumen Prices, markets & analysis
ICIS price reporting for regional Bitumen markets is unparalleled in its ability to keep you on top of the information you need.
Our network of price reporters delivers direct and regular insights into the local markets they work in.
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Our editor gives their expert view
The Asian market for bitumen is estimated at 35-40m tonnes. China’s demand accounts for 20m tonne and the balance is traded throughout the region.
Most regional players buy as locally as possible, and arbitrage is rare. This is because shipping costs can make long distance trade uneconomic.
From a supply perspective, bitumen is sensitive to crude/fuel oil prices. Bitumen is the last component left in a barrel of refined oil, and many refineries have fuel oil/bitumen swing capabilities.
The demand side for bitumen is driven by budgets for large public works such as road building and construction.
Overall, Asia is largely balanced. In North East Asia, China has domestic capacity and imports mainly from South Korea, Thailand and Singapore.
In Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Vietnam mainly import from Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan.
Over the medium term, demand is likely to increase in most Asian countries, with China, India and Indonesia likely to see the greatest growth.
Bitumen news and market information products from ICIS
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News & analysis
News & Analysis - News & market analysis specifically relating to Bitumen
Breaking news of latest developments affecting the markets.
Insight and analysis of factors driving prices.
China bitumen market remained in oversupply from mid-August to mid-November, which is traditionally a peak demand season. Refiners preferred to produce bitumen over heavy crude product because of its higher profit, resulting in the long supply. Average China price rose by yuan (CNY) 16/tonne to CNY4,526-4,600/tonne from CNY4,510-4,584/tonne over the past three months.
End-users’ demand slightly increased in east and north China from August. However, overall supply remained at relatively high level. Supply was mostly found in east China and Shandong province, and most of the surplus was channelled to north China. Consequently, although end-user demand in north China increased in the third quarter, bitumen prices were stable because of the long supply pressure.
Import bitumen prices began on a downtrend from October. Prices of South Korean cargoes dropped to $575/tonne in mid-November, lowest in this year, from $645/tonne on a CFR (cost & freight) east China basis, which is equivalent to CNY4,380/tonne after tax. The price was CNY145/tome lower than east China domestic price in the same week. The downtrend reflected a bearish sentiment for bitumen market in the fourth quarter from traders.
Shanghai Future Exchange launched bitumen future on 9 October. The February delivery contract dropped from CNY4,658/tonne on 9 October to CNY4,260/tonne on 11 November, CNY398/tonne or 8.6% lower. This indicated that market players are keeping a pessimistic expectation for early next year.
Updated to mid-November 2013
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ICIS price assessments are based on information gathered from a wide cross-section of the market, comprising consumers, producers, traders and distributors from more than 250 reporters world-wide. Confirmed deals, verified by both buyer and seller, provide the foundation of our price assessments.
Our in-depth market knowledge drives our specialist focus, as we recognise the importance of individual market dynamics and not a one-size-fits-all approach.
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