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 Q1 2019
Supply in the first quarter is expected to lengthen as maintenance at regional plants will mostly complete by December. Fewer turnarounds have been planned for in the first quarter, which could further contribute to supply in Asia. The still closed spot east-west arbitrage window to the US could result in more parcels circulating in the region.
Demand for benzene is expected to stay tepid in the first quarter as markets in the region will close for the Lunar New Year holidays in early February. Downstream markets such as styrene, phenol and caprolactam are usually slow in the first quarter before kicking into higher gear in the second. With the US-China trade war unresolved, end-users are expected to remain in a cautious mode, which would continue to weigh on trade.
Availability of benzene in the first quarter of 2019 is likely to be less lengthy. Derivative consumption is expected to pick up as players downstream undertake traditional re-stocking activity after the de-stocking at 2018 year-end, which will create some pull on supply. Inventories are expected to stay long in Europe and globally.
Europe benzene derivative consumption is expected to pick up in Q1 2019 as players downstream undertake traditional re-stocking activity after the de-stocking at 2018 year-end.
US benzene supply is expected to remain long in the first quarter as benzene supply from Asia is expected to remain sufficient for most of 2019. Refinery operating rates are likely to be scaled back during the slow season for gasoline, which is a time when many refineries schedule their turnarounds. Selective toluene disproportionation (STDP) units are expected to maintain low operations as seasonally slow demand for paraxylene (PX) along with benzene remaining at a discount to feedstock toluene will discourage operations at these units.
The first quarter is typically the heavy turnaround season for the US styrene sector, which is likely to depress benzene consumption during the quarter. Styrene plants have experienced significant production cuts in the first quarter in each of the past two years. Demand for several other benzene derivatives such as phenol and methyl di-p phenylene isocyanate (MDI) are experiencing seasonal slow periods for demand in the first quarter.
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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