Imports into the structurally short US benzene market fell about 18% year-on-year in 2016 compared with 2015, as downstream issues in derivatives such as styrene weighed on demand. Meanwhile, benzene prices rose late in 2016 on a rally in upstream crude oil as well as several issues at refineries on the Gulf Coast.
On the demand side, China's appetite for benzene ahead of its Lunar New Year holiday spurred price increases and US exports to China in December. The US benzene market is structurally short and relies on imports to meet about 20% of consumption. South Korea, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Brazil continue to be key suppliers to the US market. Explore these trends in our benzene infographic.
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