Benzene reports are published weekly by ICIS in Asia, Europe and the US, with contract and spot price assessments, market news and analysis.
Benzene forecast reports for all three regions are published on a monthly basis, covering the market up to one year ahead. Monthly forecast reports are also available for the Styrene market.
Updated to Q3 2019
There was steady supply in the third quarter, with new facilities that were supposed to come on stream being delayed to the fourth quarter. A few planned turnarounds did little to surprise the market as participants were adequately prepared.
Elevated demand from the US and Europe in the third quarter stoked interest in Asia parcels. Relatively strong arbitrage flow was seen from Asia to the US and Europe. Chinese import demand remained weak, with users depending mostly on domestic cargoes. Otherwise, ongoing demand continued to be seen in Taiwan and southeast Asia.
Europe benzene supply lengthened towards the end of the quarter, after a tight few months which saw a steep $100/tonne backwardation on October. The price premium was because of limited availability for prompt material, and the expectation had been that October supply would improve, thereby also narrow the spread in pricing month on month. Supply was tight on reduced run rates, lengthier outages and unplanned glitches, along with fewer imports and more exports.
Demand has been lacklustre, as macroeconomic uncertainty blighted consumer confidence. A reduction in demand from mid-September to mid-November because of derivative styrene turnarounds eased supply tension for benzene. There is planned maintenance at Ellba’s 550,000 tonne/year Moerdijk facility and the LyondellBasell / Covestro turnaround at the 680,000 tonne/year Maasvlakte site, both in the Netherlands. These were scheduled for around 22 September until 6 November and from mid-September until mid-November respectively.
Supply lengthened during the third quarter amid increased refinery rates during the summer gasoline season and sustained imports from Asia. Imports from Asia remained steady amid growing oversupply in the key China market and weak domestic operating rates for on-purpose benzene units. Poor margins have negatively impacted operating rates for disproportionation units.
Demand increased in the third quarter as downstream styrene production rates rebounded and imports from Asia were steady amid lower operating rates for on-purpose benzene units. The economics for toluene disproportionation units were disadvantageous. But downstream consumption was limited by under performance in certain sectors due to global economic headwinds.
We offer the following regional Benzene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Benzene marketplace.
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Benzene is used primarily as a raw material in the synthesis of styrene (polystyrene plastics and synthetic rubber).
Benzene is a colourless, refractive liquid with a characteristic aromatic odour. Its vapour is toxic and highly flammable. In cold weather, benzene solidifies to a white crystalline mass. It is slightly soluble in water, miscible with ethyl alcohol, ether, acetone, carbon tetrachloride, carbon disulphide, and glacial acetic acid (GAA).
Benzene is the largest volume aromatic petrochemical used to produce a number of petrochemical intermediates.
Ethylbenzene (EB) is the largest chemical outlet for benzene and nearly all is consumed in the production of styrene.
The second largest outlet for benzene is cumene which is nearly all consumed in phenol production with acetone formed as a coproduct.
The third largest outlet for benzene is cyclohexane (CX) which finds its way primarily into the nylon chain via caprolactam and adipic acid.
The fourth main derivative of benzene is nitrobenzene, which can be used to make aniline.
Benzene is used to make a number of other chemical intermediates such as alkylbenzene used in detergents, maleic anhydride(unsaturated polyester resins) and chlorobenzenes (engineering polymers).
The main sources of benzene are from the steam cracking or catalytic reforming of liquid petroleum feedstocks, primarily naphtha, where the benzene is recovered from the aromatics stream. Other processes are hydrodealkylation (HDA) of toluene and toluene disproportionation (TDP).
ICIS Benzene Price Index
US Benzene Prices were assessed at $2.75 – 2.83 / gal FOB (free on board) in mid June 2015. Downstream US styrene outages have depressed benzene prices whilst at the same time fuel blending demand has raised Prices for Toluene to $2.95-3.08/gal. This change has almost eliminated the spread between the two aromatics in the US for the first half of 2015.
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ICIS is pleased to announce that the 15th World Olefins Conference will be taking place on the 4 March 2018 in Madrid, Spain. This event will once again bring together the global players from the olefins value chain to discuss the latest developments in the market and to ensure that you have all the necessary information and connections to drive your business forward.