AFPM '14: Oxo-alcohol and plasticizer markets hold steady

29 March 2014 17:00 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--March has been a quieter month for the oxo-alcohol market, following price increases on n-butanol (NBA), isobutanol (IBA) and 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) in January.

Heading into this year’s International Petrochemical Conference (IPC), market participants have described the oxo-alcohol market as balanced and well-supplied.

Oxo-alcohol prices have been mostly flat of late. Producers have been focusing on maintaining prices rather than increasing them, as feedstock propylene contract prices fell in February and March.

Going into the second quarter, several major oxo-alcohol producers have turnarounds planned. Sources said that this could reduce availability and prevent erosion of contract prices.

Two producers are planning expansions in US 2-EH capacity. Eastman Chemical plans to expand 2-EH capacity at its site in Longview, Texas by 20,000 tonnes/year. Completion is expected in the fourth quarter of 2012. Oxea has also started basic engineering for a 2-EH unit at its plant in Bay City, Texas, scheduled to come on-stream in late 2016. The company has not disclosed the size of the planned capacity addition.

US plasticizer prices have been steady in March after producers secured price increases in February. While many market participants had anticipated further increases this month, feedstock propylene prices did not move upwards. As the plasticizer market is balanced, raw material costs tend to be a price driver. Without this impetus, sellers have not been pushing to bring their prices up.

However, a force majeure on production of acid trimellitic anhydride (TMA) is poised to cause price rises on non-phthalate plasticizer trioctyl trimellitate (TOTM). Producers plan to raise prices on TOTM in April due to reduced supply and increased costs for TMA, which is used with 2-EH to produce TOTM.

While producers have cited steady levels of demand for most plasticizers this month, several market participants have noted the continuing increased interest in non-phthalate plasticizers such as dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP). DOTP has become popular as a replacement for dioctyl phthalate (DOP) and diisononyl phthalate (DINP).

Hosted by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the IPC takes place 30 March through 1 April in San Antonio, Texas.

By Matthew Donovan