Europe oxo-alcohols sellers have different June price expectations

28 May 2014 23:59 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--European oxo-alcohols producers offered differing responses to the settlement of the June propylene contract price on Wednesday at a €10/tonne increase from May.

There were a range of views on oxo-alcohols demand, although market participants did not indicate any issues with availability.

One n-butanol (NBA) producer said that May order volumes were good and there is no sign of weak demand. The source emphasised that margins have come under pressure in recent months, and said it will target June price increases in excess of the propylene pass-through.

A second oxo-alcohols producer also struck a positive note on demand, saying that May had seen a rebound from lower sales in March and April, which it attributed to the start of the coatings season.

The outlook for June is good, the source said, noting that it had concluded deals for the sale of additional tonnes to consumers in eastern Europe as a result of ZAK's turnaround at Kedzierzyn-Kozle.

The source was doubtful that it would be able to pass on the higher cost of propylene in June, except where accounts are formula-linked to feedstock costs.

A third producer was more pessimistic, saying that it might even struggle to roll prices over into June, and margins are steadily being eroded. In addition, the source noted that the European summer holiday season is approaching, which usually brings a decline in offtake.

A reseller said that demand is better than it had expected, and felt that prices would roll over or increase slightly for June on good demand.

One buyer of 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) described a stable situation with flat performance in the coatings sector, possibly as a result of the mild winter.

A second buyer did not expect the rise in the propylene contract price to have any impact on 2-EH spot prices.

Spot prices were assessed by ICIS on Wednesday at €1,090-1,150/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) for NBA, €1,000-1,060/tonne FD NWE for isobutanol (IBA) and €1,350-1,430/tonne FD NWE for 2-EH.

By Samuel Weatherlake