ICIS has a network of locally based reporters providing coverage of regional Benzene markets. They provide not just pricing information, but an in-depth understanding of the factors driving prices and market fluctuations.
Updated to Q4 2018
US benzene supply remained long throughout the fourth quarter on sufficient availability from Asia along with high refinery operating rates within the US. Inventory levels have been persistently high through most of 2018 and remained high throughout the fourth quarter. Operating rates at selective toluene disproportionation (STDP) units trended lower near the end of the quarter as prices for coproduct paraxylene (PX) declined with the low season for that product while benzene traded at a discount to feedstock toluene.
US benzene demand was mostly steady in the fourth quarter. Styrene exports slowed in the second half of the quarter, weighing down incremental demand for benzene. Styrene is the largest benzene derivative, accounting for around half of US benzene consumption. Demand for phenol was strong in the quarter while some regional shutdowns depressed demand from the methyl di-p phenylene isocyanate (MDI) sector.
We offer the following regional Benzene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the China 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 major chemical feedstock used to produce a number of other petrochemicals such as ethyl benzene (EB), styrene and solvents such as cumene, phenol and acetone.
The main sources of benzene are from the steam cracking or catalytic reforming of liquid petroleum feedstocks, primarily naphtha with benzene recovered from the aromatic stream.
Although benzene is mainly sourced from naphtha, crude and gasoline futures on NYMEX futures are also shown to be a key driver in the market at times.
Another factor that can influence the market is weather, especially in the summer. Much of the North American benzene production is concentrated in the US Gulf (USG), which is always vulnerable to hurricanes.
The ICIS US Gulf benzene report is used by some majors as a benchmark in the aromatics and petrochemicals sector. This is important because many companies trust ICIS and how we assess the market.
We publish a single contract number and we publish spot prices. That can affect the entire outlook for a month or quarter, or an entire year. The US Gulf report includes contract and weekly spot prices on a free-on-board (FOB) basis.
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