The ICIS Isopropanol (IPA) report is published weekly in Asia, Europe and the US. Our price assessments cover spot activity and, in Europe, technical, and cosmetic and pharmaceutical grades are quoted.
Locally based reporters gather market intelligence and compile commentary to cover regional activity, production issues, upstream and downstream news, as well as economic indications. The independent and unbiased information helps support you to make business decisions with confidence.
Updated to Q4 2020
A tight market was seen on the back of several plant shutdowns in Q4, most planned. An unplanned shutdown and later resumption at reduced production at South Korea’s LG Chemical in mid Q4, caused by a fire at their main control room, caused IPA supply to decrease to Asia, especially to India. Along with reduced production at other existing IPA plants amid high feedstock costs, the Asian market saw an overall tightness.
As supply decreased unexpectedly because of a major supplier’s unplanned shutdown and later reduced production, enquiries for spot IPA cargoes increased. Amid high feedstock costs, IPA suppliers also chose more lucrative regions to sell to. Regional markets also saw improved sentiment as local orders increased and downstream buyers stocked up on their inventories.
Supply was tighter on fewer imports from Asia, a healthy export market, and lower plant operating rates in Europe due to feedstock supply curtailments, especially in the later part of the quarter. Persisting tightness in the acetone and propylene markets in December impeded full capacity production at several producers’ units during the second half of the quarter.
Some stockpiling of IPA as a feedstock for hand-sanitizing and surface-cleansing products, pharmaceuticals and homecare uses, occurred in October on concerns of a third wave of the pandemic and on a relative pick-up of activity in the automotive industry, although the latter applications remained overall subdued year on year.
IPA supply tightened primarily due to production issues abroad. As IPA prices came down from highs in late Q1 and early Q2, some new entrants exited the market by the early fall. However in Q4, any sources of tightness came primarily from production problems in South Korea, as well as container costs from east Asia in general doubling or even tripling. Neither issue applied to domestic production.
Demand for IPA continued to ease following the unprecedented surge in March and April. Output of hand sanitizers and other disinfectants increased substantially to meet demand in H1 and there were far fewer shortages, accordingly. Market players kept expecting a potential increase in IPA demand amid rising coronavirus cases, but other than brief upticks, IPA demand declined from early 2020 levels, albeit gradually.
We offer the following regional Isopropanol analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Isopropanol marketplace.
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Isopropanol (IPA), also known as isopropyl alcohol, is a low-cost solvent used in many industrial and consumer products and as an extractant.
Isopropanol (IPA) is a clear, colourless, mobile liquid with an alcoholic odour. It is miscible with water and ethyl alcohol and reacts with strong oxidants.
IPA, also known as isopropyl alcohol, is a low-cost solvent used in many industrial and consumer products and as an extractant. Outlets include cosmetics and personal care products, de-icers, paints and resins, pharmaceuticals, food, inks and adhesives. It is also used as solvent for oil and gums and in the manufacture of fishmeal concentrates. Low-grade IPA is used in motor oils.
Other applications include its use as a cleaning and drying agent in the manufacture of electronic parts and metals, and as an aerosol solvent in medical and veterinary products. It can also be used as a coolant in beer manufacture, a coupling agent, a polymerisation modifier, a de-icing agent and a preservative.
Some chemical compounds are manufactured from IPA, in particular derivative ketones, such as methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), isopropylamines and isopropyl esters.
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