Price and market trends: US barge acetone contracts sharply lower

04 July 2014 10:13 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

The reduction for large-volume barge acetone buyers took that price down to 62.25 cts/lb, market participants confirmed

US barge acetone contract values dropped by 4 cents/lb ($88/tonne) for June, market sources said on 27 June, and truck values were generally flat to mildly weaker, mostly on pressure from softer feedstock refinery-grade propylene (RGP).

The reduction for large-volume barge acetone buyers took that price down to 62.25 cts/lb, market participants confirmed. Weaker barge acetone values also were seen in May.

The US barge acetone contract is typically negotiated between three large producers – Axiall, INEOS Phenol and Shell – and the three largest buyers – Dow Chemical, Evonik and Lucite.

In the truck acetone market, spot pricing was described as mostly stable during June, but contract values were assessed slightly weaker for June on some reported spot weakness, slightly lower June RGP values and in line with the reduced June barge contract rates.

The June delivered truck contract range was 70-74 cents/lb, as assessed by ICIS.

Two sources said barge-versus-truck premiums that collapsed earlier in the year appear to be returning to more typical spreads.

However, some distributors said they are still operating on relatively thin margins and not filling storage tanks beyond minimum needs.

Pressuring acetone values were RGP prices that fell by nearly 10% during May and dipped lower in June before inching upward the week ended 27 June.

Domestic propylene inventories ended the previous week down 1.7% versus a week earlier, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The decline is the second week-on-week drawdown, which sources said could continue to lead to higher RGP spot prices.

By Larry Terry