The Toluene markets are covered by ICIS weekly in Asia, Europe and the US. This reliable and trustworthy tool allows you to stay up-to-date with news and analysis and gives you the confidence to make vital commercial decisions.
Price assessments cover spot activity over the week as well as at close of business in the day, and contract prices are also published in Europe. This market intelligence is compiled by our locally-based reporters and commentary includes news on deals taking place, feedstock movements, demand and supply trends, outlooks, regional focus as well as graphs.
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We offer the following regional Toluene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Toluene marketplace.
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Toluene: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2018
Supply is likely to lengthen in the fourth quarter, after several plants restart from their turnarounds – mainly in southeast Asia and South Korea – and one unit in South Korea debottlenecks. This is in addition to ready availability from other producers amid squeezed downstream TDP spreads.
Demand is likely to remain strong only in October, because India buyers still need to restock before the Diwali holiday period in early November. China demand will be weak in the fourth quarter as the market enters the typical seasonal lull, with the key solvent downstream market to be slow moving.
Supply will be curtailed in early Q4 due to turnarounds. An arbitrage with the US has potential to tighten Europe in early Q4. The riskiness of sending material – partly on unpredictable upstream prices - could stopper exports. Low Rhine water levels in early Q4 imply tighter distribution availability; this could improve later in the quarter.
Blending demand for toluene should ease with the end of the summer driving season and rise of ‘winter specification’ gasoline. Chemical demand was expected to be stable or muted in early Q4 on some disrupted toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) production. Hydrodealkylation (HDA) economics may continue in negative territory in early Q4.
Updated to Q3 2018
US toluene supplies are expected to continue improving throughout the third quarter as gasoline demand continues to stabilise from summer highs. Gasoline demand is expected to fall ahead of the switch from summer-blend gasoline to winter-blend gasoline which typically occurs in September. Supplies are also expected to improve on increasing refinery rates.
US toluene demand is expected to trend down throughout the quarter alongside stabilising gasoline demand. Gasoline demand is expected to tick down throughout the quarter before the switch from summer-blend to winter-grade gasoline, which typically occurs in September. The switch will decrease demand for octane-enhancing aromatics such as toluene for the gasoline-blending pool.
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Toluene news & analysis
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Toluene is a colourless, mobile liquid with a characteristic sweet, pungent, benzene-like odour. It is an irritant to the eyes, skin, nose and lungs. Toluene is a dangerous fire hazard and can lead to a flashback due to its heavy vapour.
The main chemical use of toluene is to make benzene and xylenes using a number of technologies.
Toluene is also used in solvent applications and is consumed in the manufacture of toluene diisocyanate (TDI) which is used in the manufacture of polyurethane foams. Smaller uses for TDI include polyurethane elastomers and coatings.
Other minor chemical uses include the manufacture of phenol, caprolactam, nitrobenzene, benzoic acid and benzyl chloride.
In non-chemical uses, toluene is used in large quantities as an octane booster in gasoline but most of that portion remains in the refinery streams.
There are three grades of toluene: TDI grade of 99+% purity; nitration grade at 98.5-100%.
The original source of toluene from coke-oven gas has been replaced by the catalytic reforming of naphthas and from pyrolysis gasoline co-produced in the steam cracking of liquid feedstocks. A very small amount is still produced from light oil formed by the carbonisation of coal.