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Maleic anhydride Europe Transcript
Maleic anhydride or MA has two feedstocks n-butane and benzene. In Europe plants are predominantly based on n-butane, but outside of Europe, the main feedstock is benzene.
MA is used in a wide variety of applications, but its major use is in the unsaturated polyester resins market. That accounts for over 50% of all MA usage. UPRs are use in construction, automotive and marine applications.
The key price drivers for MA are supply and demand and feedstock costs.
Maleic anhydride is imported but not in large quantities. Solid imports from Asia are the most common. Liquid imports are rare, because solid temperature controls make shipping logistically difficult. However, some liquid material does enter the European market from America.
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Updated to Q4 2016
European maleic anhydride (MA) contract ideas started wide apart for the fourth quarter. Demand was considered quite healthy into the unsaturated polyester resins (UPR) market and raw material costs were higher, but with supply plentiful, implementing increases proved to be a struggle. Targets were heard at plus €30-40/tonne for some sellers but plus €100/tonne was also sought by a key producer.
In October spot prices were steady to soft, with both flake and liquid numbers heard €10-20/tonne lower.
Despite hefty targets for contract business, customers said rollovers and in some cases decreases of €30-40/tonne were agreed, depend on starting point. There were lengthy talks, and discussions fell into November, but more and more sources agreed at a rollover. This led producers to be concerned about the squeeze on margins given that costs continue to rise.
On the spot market, numbers eased down another €10-20/tonne on long supply and flat demand. However, by the end of November prices for liquids started to bounce back and recovered €40-60/tonne, which some attributed to a cut in production. While there was no specific confirmation from producers of any outages or production issues, it was reiterated that margins were so poor that some sort of supply cutback was necessary. In December, demand appeared to remain strong and prices held firm at year end at €940-1,000/tonne FD NWE for liquid and €1,020-1,080/tonne FD NWE for flake.
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