The ICIS Glycol Ether reports are published in Asia, Europe and the US on a weekly basis. Asia and US markets focus on both the ethylene and propylene based glycol ethers within this report, while in Europe these are published separately as glycol ethers and propylene glycol ethers.
Our locally based reporters gather market intelligence on demand, supply, upstream movements, production schedules and any other key factors influencing prices at the time. Follow our universally-trusted reports to help you make informed commercial decisions.
Updated to Q4 2020
Supply in Asia import markets had been decreasing all the way through Q4. In October some cargoes had been delayed as a result of poor weather conditions. In November, some unexpected plant issues of one active producer further tightened the supply side in both China and southeast Asia import markets. Meanwhile, feedstock markets were firmer amid tightened supply resulting from ongoing turnarounds.
Booming export orders from downstream users and low inventory in the domestic market boosted buyers’ sentiment in the import market of China. Downstream in southeast Asia was lacklustre in the beginning. However, due to increasing demand from China, more sellers diverted some of their cargoes from southeast Asia to China which lead to tightened supply in this region and further boosted buying sentiment of both traders and end users. Healthy pick-up in demand continued through the end of the year.
Glycol ethers supply tightened in Q4 with some producers facing constraints towards the year end. Dow Chemical’s US exports were limited and BASF also had limited spot supply from mid-Q4 onwards. Exports to Asia increased due to an attractive arbitrage. Shortages in upstream NBA added pressure to European producers and made supply shorter in December.
Glycol ethers demand was healthy in Q4, with the first half of the quarter seeing steady sales meeting sellers’ expectations. After supply conditions tightened further in the second half of the quarter, demand rose with sellers unable to meet increased requests for product. Demand for European product on the global market also increased due to shortages and higher prices in Asia.
Q4 supply of US glycol ethers BG, BDG, PM and PMA was largely balanced with demand from coatings, cleansers and disinfectants markets despite some mid-quarter supply constraints following a producer’s plant outage. Transportation constraints – truck-driver shortages as well as port and railhead congestion – also were lengthening domestic delivery lead times. Cost pressures continue from propylene and ethylene.
US BG, BDG, PM and PMA demand from architectural coatings, as well as the cleansers and disinfectants markets, gained momentum in Q4, from a blend of heightened coronavirus-related buying interest, pent-up demand stemming from previous spring coronavirus lockdowns and from some restocking for early 2021. With the coronavirus continuing to escalate in Q4, the do-it-yourself (DIY) paint sector also remained strong. Some economic optimism centred on the implementation of coronavirus vaccines, however.
We offer the following regional Glycol ethers analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Glycol ethers marketplace.
More information about the price reports we publish on Glycol ethers
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News & market analysis specifically relating to Glycol ethers
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Insight and analysis of factors driving prices.
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Glycol Ethers Methodology
A large proportion of glycol ethers goes into the paints and coatings industry, though other uses include inks, cleaning products, plasticisers, brake fluids, pharmaceuticals, cosmetic and personal care products.
There are two groups of glycol ethers: E-series and P-series depending on whether they are made from ethylene oxide (EO) or propylene oxide (PO). They are used mainly as a solvent in a variety of domestic and industrial applications such as paints and coatings.
E-series glycol ethers are used as solvents and coalescing aids in paint formulations while higher molecular weight glycol ethers are used in hydraulic brake fluids. They are used as intermediates to make esters.
Propylene glycol ethers (PGE) are high performance industrial solvents used in paints and coatings, cleaners, inks and other applications.
In the electronics industry, PGEs are used with other solvents in the manufacture of laminates and semiconductor processes for making circuit boards.
Other applications include agricultural, cosmetic, ink, textile and adhesive products.
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