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 Q4 2018
Supply in Asia is expected to remain ample in the fourth quarter. With the spot East-West arbitrage closed for most part of the year, suppliers will continue to seek outlets in Asia. While there are some maintenance shutdowns in the region, they are not expected to have significant impact on supply.
Demand could see some tapering off in the fourth quarter amid the traditional lull season. Users in China and across the region will continue to depend largely on term cargoes to meet production requirements. Sellers of spot will likely have to work hard in securing buyers unless some supply disruptions occur.
Availability of benzene in Europe is expected to be steady overall in the fourth quarter versus the third quarter. There is some expectation that imports will reduce in the fourth quarter, and export opportunities could arise if the arbitrage allows. Inventories are expected to stay long in Europe and globally.
The European benzene market could see an active buying interest early in the fourth quarter, but as the quarter progresses players are expected to undertake destocking measures in preparation for year-end. Demand for benzene is likely to start tailing off by the end of November/early December.
US benzene supply is anticipated to see some declines in the fourth quarter. Refinery operating rates are likely to be scaled back with the passing of the summer high season for gasoline while the end of global high season for polyester will result in slower demand for PX and may thereby depressing operating rates at on-purpose benzene units, some of which also produce PX.
No major change is expected in US benzene demand during the fourth quarter although some derivatives may see a slowdown in demand during the low season for the construction sector, which is a key consumer of several major benzene derivatives.
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.