The ICIS Ethylbenzene reports are covered weekly in Europe and the US. Both regions focus on the spot price assessments on an FOB NWE and FOB USG basis.
The locally based reporters publish news and market analysis on upstream price movements, demand, supply, production updates and graphs. There are also feedstock contract price quotes within both reports. Our independent information gives you the necessary insight to make informed and confident commercial decisions.
Updated to Q2 2020
Supply for June and July delivery cargoes fell short of demand amid output constraints. Major producers in Japan and China cut or halt supply to customers as their plants were undergoing maintenance. The supply crunch was exacerbated by a prolonged outage at South Korean producer Lotte Chemical’s Daesan plant, which shut in early March following a fire accident, and production problems at ENEOS Corp’s unit.
China’s import demand improved in line with a resumption in downstream activity after the coronavirus outbreak in the country was bought under control. Restocking was also boosted by the restart of downstream plants in April and May on the back of improved margins and following the completion of scheduled maintenance. However, downstream margins came under renewed pressure in June, prompting some buyers in China and Taiwan to cut output.
Scheduled cracker maintenances at two sites were postponed from the spring to later in the year because of coronavirus concerns. Crackers ran well on the whole despite some disruptions downstream. Supply lengthened significantly but exports afforded by low feedstock costs helped to manage balances. Spot prices were significantly below the prevailing contract reference prices as a result. Towards the end of the quarter, cracker rates in some areas were constrained by poor C4s performance.
Demand for ethylene derivatives involved in the packaging and medical/hygiene sectors was boosted by the coronavirus pandemic, but the construction and automotive sectors did not fare so well. Demand in these areas fell significantly in April, but while buying interest in the construction sector saw a steady recovery in May and June as lockdowns across Europe began to ease, there was a limited pickup in the automotive sector.
Supply was mostly steady in Q2 following Q1 2020 and Q4 2019 capacity increases. Despite the demand shock from the coronavirus, cracker operators did not substantially lower rates. Increased ethane cracking due to other feedstocks’ unfavourable economics resulted in greater ethylene production. Upstream drilling cuts in response to plunging crude prices raised some concern among participants about constrained feedstock supply, but such constraints did not materialise.
Demand for most ethylene derivatives was muted to begin Q2 with widespread shutdowns across the US economy. Consumer spending, construction and manufacturing have been slow to recover. Declines in these sectors were too steep to be offset by rebounding export and PE demand, which have been buoyed by higher demand for food packaging, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies and cleaning chemicals.
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Around 99% of ethyl benzene (EB) produced in Europe is used in the production of styrene monomer, which is then used in many homopolymer, copolymer and terpolymer applications.
Ethylbenzene (EB) is a colourless liquid, with a pungent aromatic odour. It is practically insoluble in water but soluble in ethyl alcohol, ether and benzene.
Nearly all EB output is used in the production of styrene monomer, which is then used in many homopolymer, copolymer and terpolymer applications. These applications cover a wide scope of industrial, consumer and medical products.
Ethylbenzene is also used in the production of synthetic rubber, as a component of automotive and aviation fuels and in the manufacture of cellulose acetate. It is utilised as a solvent or diluent for alkyd surface coatings, and as a chemical intermediate for diethylbenzene and acetophenone, ethyl anthraquinone, EB sulphonic acids, and alpha-methylbenzyl alcohol.
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