LONDON (ICIS)--EU benzene imports were up 27% during the first six months of this year compared to the same period of 2012, according to Eurostat data.
From January to June, the EU imported 358,914 tonnes of benzene, up from 282,949 tonnes in the first half of 2012.
This year has seen global pricing volatility on benzene push and pull material between the three key global regions, amid unplanned production outages, vulnerable demand patterns and an uncertain macroeconomic environment.
Europe has been the highest valued region for benzene globally since April, as opposed to 2012 when the US market was the key price driver, with prices reaching record highs three times in the year and breaking the $5.00/gal mark on spot pricing.
As a result, first half 2013 exports out of the EU remained fairly balanced in comparison, up from 114,861 tonnes to 126,390 tonnes, an 11% increase from the same period last year. The monthly shift in volumes has, however, been erratic, a reflection of the global price volatility for much of the year so far.
Exports from the EU saw a sharp year on year drop in June, with firm bullish European spot numbers keeping the arbitrage window closed, as well as for the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year, when they were down by 50%.
However, April saw a sharp year on year rise in exports from the EU following a €62/tonne drop in the European contract price helped open the arbitrage into other regions. Just over 78,000 tonnes left the region that month, more than 60% of total EU benzene exports in the first half.