CHANGSHA, CHINA (ICIS)--China is likely to import around 70,000 tonnes of benzene in August, a significance increase from June and July levels, traders and end-users said on Friday.
Import volumes are set to rise because of increased buying activity for August cargoes by Chinese traders and end-users between the second half of June and mid-July, when the import window reopened, they added.
In June, the country imported about 15,000 tonnes of benzene, according to China’s customs data. July’s benzene imports are estimated at 30,000 tonnes.
Cargoes of northeast Asian origin were booked in the second half of June at $1,215-1,230/tonne CFR (cost and freight) China, while FOB Korea (free on board) prices were hovering at $1,200/tonne FOB Korea, ICIS data showed.
“I have six vessels [delivering 3,000 tonnes of benzene] arriving in August,” a major styrene monomer (SM) producer that is based in east China said.
The SM producer added that there should be at least 60,000 tonnes of benzene arriving in August.
In addition to northeast Asian cargoes, more southeast Asian parcels are expected to arrive, because the region is experiencing an oversupply from reduced operating rates or forthcoming turnarounds at benzene derivatives units in Singapore.
Several regional market players have estimated that August arrivals in China may hit up to 80,000 tonnes.
With cargo availability expected to rise amid reduced production at a number of Chinese SM plants, Chinese end-users said benzene prices would lack support in August.
“I think prices will drop to below $1,200/tonne FOB Korea,” a separate Chinese SM maker said.
A major Chinese SM plant was said to be running at 80% capacity, because of the current hot weather conditions.