ICIS publishes our reliable and trustworthy propylene oxide report in Asia, Europe and the US on a weekly basis. Independent and unbiased pricing assessments are quoted for spot and contract, depending on the region. Our locally-based reporters gather market intelligence to compile commentary to include insight into demand and supply movements, upstream and downstream trends, trade and production data and any other key influencing factors that may impact prices in the market at the time.
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Propylene oxide: Market overview
Updated to Q3 2018
Supply in Asia is expected to increase in Q3 as two of the three Japanese producers will restart from their turnarounds by July. Moreover, South Korean S-Oil’s 300,000 tonne/year PO plant is expected to achieve on-spec production in August, while plant output is also expected to rise in northern China.
PO demand in Q3 will likely pick up slightly with the onset of the traditional peak demand season in August/September. However, the extent of any demand improvement is expected to be constrained due to poor market sentiment, with overall demand said to be comparatively weaker than in the past years.
European PO supply could improve during the quieter summer holiday period. However, this will also be weighed against plant reliability and whether it makes sense to convert more PO into derivatives, where flexibility allows for margin related reasons. Some producers have said they are receiving requests for additional volume requirements and to fix contracts for a longer term period over the next 2-4 years. This may suggest some concerns about security of supply in the longer term. This is likely to be linked to structural limitations in the PO market, along with increasing captive requirements for certain suppliers,
PO activity could be slower during the third quarter, because of the main holiday period in Europe. However, there is talk of buying interest for additional volume requirements and for longer term contracts, but this is believed to be due to underlying concerns about security of supply.
Updated to Q4 2017
PO supply is likely to tighten as demand increases on concerns about availability because of production issues after hurricane Harvey. In the US, there are four major producers of propylene oxide (PO), with the bulk of production being captive, and, as a result, minimal market information is available.
Demand for PO and downstream polyols is rising in early October, on industry participants’ concerns about securing inventories in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey. However, the increase in demand may moderate as plants regularise production.
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Propylene oxide news & analysis
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Propylene Oxide Methodology
About Propylene oxide
Propylene oxide (PO) is a very volatile, colourless, flammable liquid with a characteristic ether-like odour. PO reacts violently with chlorine, ammonia, strong oxidants and acids causing fire and explosion hazards.
Propylene oxide is a highly reactive chemical used as an intermediate for the production of numerous commercial materials. The largest derivative of PO is polyether polyols, one of the main components used in the manufacture of polyurethanes. Propylene glycol (PG) is the second largest PO derivative.
Propylene oxide is made traditionally by chlorohydrin or epoxidation routes. The propylene oxide/styrene monomer (PO/SM) epoxidation process had been gaining in popularity due to its superior economics. However, new PO technologies that do not made coproducts have now been commercialised.
General downstream PO sectors include bedding and furniture; construction and automotive.
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