US Q2 mid-cut fatty alcohol contracts rise on feedstock costs

07 April 2014 22:44 Source:ICIS News

US Q2 mid-cut fatty alcohol contracts rise on feedstock costsHOUSTON (ICIS)--US fatty alcohol Q2 contracts have settled higher on cost and volatility in upstream feedstock palm kernel (PKO) and coconut oil (CNO), sources said on Monday.

Mid-cut detergent range alcohol Q2 contracts were assessed at 96.00-109.00 cents/lb ($2,116-2,403/tonne), gaining 7 cents/lb on the low end of the range and 10 cents/lb on the upper end over Q1 prices for bulk delivered material.

PKO and CNO prices skyrocketed during the first quarter, driven up by weather damage to key coconut producing regions in Asia, sources said.

The two feedstock oils offer different yields of the main carbon chains needed for the mid-cut alcohols, with CNO previously the favoured feedstock oil for these alcohols.

With a shortage of CNO, more PKO is being used, pushing volatility into the prices for both oils, sources said.

The following chart from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers an insight into the price volatility in consideration.

US veg oil prices

The US is a major net-importer of fatty alcohols, with Asia recognized as the key global producing region for the feedstock oils and for the alcohols.

Feedstock oil prices in Asia typically affect the US market at approximately a three-month lag period because of the timeframe for producing the alcohols from the oils and shipping the product to the US.

The US has domestic synthetic production of mid-cut detergent range alcohols by Shell and Sasol via ethylene and gas-to-liquids (GTL) routes, respectively.

The contract assessment includes natural (from feedstock oils) and synthetic alcohols.

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By Judith Taylor