ICIS publishes a Butanediol report for Asia, Europe and the US, though the Europe and US reports are combined as a global report.
Contract and spot price assessments are made by our locally based reporters, and market news and analysis, such as production, upstream/downstream activity and graphs, are all included when relevant. Our independent reports are an essential tool to help you make important commercial decisions.
Updated to Q4 2019
The slightly higher output from China was offset by reduced supply from Taiwan. Q4 supply in China increased slightly after local plant operating rates recovered to 60-70% in November and December, from 50-60% in Q3 and in October. Meanwhile, a Taiwanese producer shut one of its Mailiao plants from September to late November because of poor margins. Its other plant at the site was shut since April 2019 for the same reason.
Overall demand dropped in Q4 due to the year-end lull, as buyers preferred to keep their inventories lean. Demand from key downstream sectors such as polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and polytetramethylene ether glycol (PTMEG) as well as the thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) sector were in the doldrums in 2019 because of suppressed buying interest due to global economic uncertainties and geo-political tensions in the Middle East.
European butanediol (BDO) supply was lengthy at the start of the quarter. Destocking activity took place earlier than is traditional, and the market became slightly more balanced by December. However, demand remained low and most players were looking ahead to the New Year. Chinese imports also decreased.
Demand remained weak in the fourth quarter. Downstream, DuBay Polymer extended its annual polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) turnaround due to lower demand expectations in Q4. This contributed to low demand for BDO, alongside poor demand from the automotive sector. Ample supply also exacerbated lengthy market conditions.
US supply of butanediol (BDO) continued to be ample against weakened demand during the fourth quarter. Supply had been structurally long globally through the year and that continued after a less-than-expected draw from the peak demand season in the third quarter. As demand lowered for materials for construction during the fourth quarter, BDO supply remained long and prices remained weak as a result. Weakness in the auto and spandex sectors kept supply ample in the US.
The passing of the peak demand season for construction during the third quarter meant that the fourth quarter demand factors glided lower gradually. Demand for spandex and automotive uses were weak through the year, and demand for solvents and construction materials lowered during the quarter after a weaker-than-expected peak demand period. The demand weakness is largely attributed to overall weaker macro-economic factors and the trade disruptions between the US and China.
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1,4-Butanediol (BDO) is an intermediate product; a colourless and almost odourless viscous liquid.
Butanediol (BDO) is a colourless and almost odourless viscous liquid. This hygroscopic diol is soluble in water, alcohols, esters, ketones, glycol ethers and glycol ether acetates; immiscible in aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons and diethylether.
BDO is a chemical intermediate used in the production of polymers, solvents and fine chemicals.
The largest consumer is tetrahydrofuran (THF), used to make polytetramethylene ether glycol (PTMEG) which goes into spandex fibres, urethane elastomers and copolyester ethers. The next largest outlet is polybutylene terephthalate (PBT).
Sizeable quantities of BDO go into the manufacture of gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), which has outlets in electronics and high-performance polymers.
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