ICIS publishes a Butanediol report for Asia, Europe and the US, though the Europe and US reports are combined as a global report.
Contract and spot price assessments are made by our locally based reporters, and market news and analysis, such as production, upstream/downstream activity and graphs, are all included when relevant. Our independent reports are an essential tool to help you make important commercial decisions.
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Butanediol: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2017
Limited plans for shutdown going forward into the fourth quarter brought along expectations of largely stable supply conditions. Most market participants said that the Chinese local market is poised to see persistent supply overhang, as nameplate capacity outstripped demand significantly.
Demand for BDO is set to improve following seasonal demand lull in the third quarter. Some market players painted a positive outlook for demand in October as well, on the back of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction, which could potentially see greater appetite for spot cargoes from the US for Asia-origin material.
The supply balance is expected to improve in Q4, with local and overseas production problems easing. Ashland’s European plant at Marl, Germany is now running again, following a fire on the site on 10 August. Force majeure remains in place, but more volumes are expected to be available into the fourth quarter. There has also been a lengthy absence from the market of Saudi Arabian product from International Diol Co (IDC), after force majeure being declared back in April. There is talk in the market that volumes will be available from the producer in the fourth quarter, but no confirmation from the seller.
Demand traditionally deflates towards the end of the year, as players start to manage inventory before the end of year. Because of the supply constraints this year there will be a back log in orders, which is expected to continue into the fourth quarter.
The supply outlook for US butanediol (BDO) in the last quarter calls for an increase in supply because of plant issues that arose in late August and September from Hurricane Harvey. US BDO producers LyondellBasell and Invista declared force majeure on BDO in late August because of plant issues stemming from Harvey, with both producers operating plants in the Houston, Texas, area, which was struck by torrential rains and flooding in the aftermath of the storm. Both producers sent letters to customers attributing the force majeures to severe weather from the hurricane.
US butanediol (BDO) demand remains strong, with supply shortages prompting big increases sought by producers separately on fourth quarter contracts. Three producers nominated price increases of 9-10 cents/lb because of late summer events in Europe and the US. In the past decade there have only been three fourth quarter increases in US BDO, and all for much less than the amount proposed this year.
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Butanediol (BDO) is a colourless and almost odourless viscous liquid. This hygroscopic diol is soluble in water, alcohols, esters, ketones, glycol ethers and glycol ether acetates; immiscible in aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons and diethylether.
BDO is a chemical intermediate used in the production of polymers, solvents and fine chemicals.
The largest consumer is tetrahydrofuran (THF), used to make polytetramethylene ether glycol (PTMEG) which goes into spandex fibres, urethane elastomers and copolyester ethers. The next largest outlet is polybutylene terephthalate (PBT).
Sizeable quantities of BDO go into the manufacture of gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), which has outlets in electronics and high-performance polymers.