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Whether you buy or sell Phenol or related products, you need to know about the prices and the factors driving the prices in the global Phenol market as they happen. Our network of price reporters throughout Asia, Europe and the US provide key local insights. We collate this intelligence into daily and weekly price reports, ensuring you have the up-to-date information you need at all times.
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Phenol: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2018
Supply in Asia is expected to be limited with a couple of scheduled regional turnarounds taking place in the second quarter of the year in Thailand and Singapore. Thai producer PTTGC and Singapore-based Mitsui Phenol Singapore have their turnarounds planned from April-June and this is likely to limit supply especially in southeast Asia. The idling of Shell’s No 3 plant in the US on 28 February will continue to reduce supply from the US heading towards Asia, especially China.
Demand from Asia is slated to remain stable on healthy BPA and caprolactam demand which is supported by healthy downstream margins in the polycarbonate and phenolic resin sector. Polycarbonate and phenolic resin demand is healthy due to peak seasonal demand in the spring from the adhesives, coatings and resins sector in China and India.
Europe’s phenol market is expected to remain tight at the start of quarter two with planned maintenance adding to supply difficulties. Borealis will have a turnaround at its 195,000 tonne/year Porvoo, Finland, site in April, which is expected to last around three weeks. A downward co-product acetone trend in the first quarter due to supply length could also affect operating rates in the second quarter as producers look to balance both markets.
Demand is expected to remain strong, although if supply conditions remain the same sellers will not have much material to offer. Trade flows could change following the idling of Anglo-Dutch seller Shell Chemical’s Deer Park, Texas plant. The 240,000 tonne/year phenol line was idled in February.
Year on year, supply will be tighter on the idling of a major phenol unit, while domestic supply should be balanced, rather than long.
Domestic demand should continue to increase as production of BPA in the US grows as derivative imports decline. Demand for phenol exports is expected to remain strong and attractive to sellers.
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Phenol occurs as colourless to yellow crystals, with a characteristic carbolic odour which turns pink on exposure to light and air. It is strongly hydroscopic, liquefying in moist air. It is moderately dissolvable in water, but very soluble in ether, methyl and ethyl alcohol, carbon tetrachloride, acetic acid, glycerol, benzene and chlorinated hydrocarbons. The solution in water is a weak acid.
The main chemical intermediates and derivatives of phenol are bisphenol-A (BPA) used to make polycarbonate (PC) and epoxy resins, phenolic resins, caprolactam, alkylphenols, aniline and adipic acid. The largest market for phenol is BPA followed by phenolic resins.
Cumene-based technology is the dominant process to produce phenol. Here, benzene and propylene are reacted to form cumene, which is oxidised to the hydroperoxide, followed by acid-catalysed cleavage to yield phenol and acetone.