LONDON (ICIS)--Low availability is continuing to drive up European methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) prices, market sources said on Monday.
Prices as high as the mid-€1,400s/tonne free delivered (FD) northwest Europe (NWE) have been quoted by several players.
Last week, MEK stood at €1,300-1,340/tonne FD NWE.
The spike is being driven by low availability from producers, with ExxonMobil widely reported to be short of material in Europe, and as many as two other major producers also suffering from limited availability on the spot market.
A distributor said: “[Producer] are supplying allocation to regular customers but not to the spot market. [Another producer] are very tight; they are not looking to participate in the spot market- they’re really keeping the product under lock and key.”
It also noted that while end-user demand is fairly ordinary: “As soon as a shortage comes around people try to take positions, which tends to exacerbate the problem.”
One producer said that it has announced major price increases for this month.
It attributed the firm pricing to a combination of low availability and relatively strong downstream usage for the quarter. It said: “Demand has picked up a bit… I think for the last month people have struggled to get the volumes they need.”
A trader said that it saw some “panic sales” last week as players attempt to avoid being caught short of material, although it described prices this week as stable.
It added: “I don’t see a reason why prices will decrease later this month… yes [they will go higher].”
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