The reliable and trustworthy ICIS Oxo-alcohols report is covered weekly in Asia, China, Europe and the US. All four regions have price assessments gathered by our locally-based reporters that focus on market movements on n-butanol, iso-butanol, 2-ethylhexanol and dioctyl phthalate.
Europe also has a spot quote for diisononyl phthalate (DINP). The commentary gives additional background information on the factors influencing prices, such as demand and supply, import/export data, graphs and feedstock movements. This invaluable tool can be used to support you in making those crucial commercial decisions.
Updated to Q1 2021
Supply for 2-EH and NBA was extremely tight in Q1, due to unexpected production shutdowns around the world. These included winter-related shutdowns in the US, while South Africa’s Sasol suffered production woes and BASF’s NBA plant in Germany remained offline. In southeast Asia, BASF PETRONAS in Malaysia was shut for maintenance, while Indonesia’s PT PON and Malaysia’s PETRONAS saw disruptions due to various technical issues.
Demand for 2-EH and NBA was mixed in Q1, as prices soared due to short supply. Demand was firm in the downstream butyl-A market, on robust demand for exports amid a global shortage. However, demand for butac and plasticizers shrank as some downstream producers cut operating rates due to weakening margins.
Oxo-alcohol supply tightened in Q1 as local force majeure declarations were ongoing for Europe’s largest n-butanol (NBA) producer, BASF, along with a declaration from the South African importer, Sasol. Many cited the major producer BASF remaining in force majeure as the primary concern on supply. Material for NBA was significantly shorter than isobutanol (IBA) and 2-ethyl hexanol (2-EH), though there were also restrictions here too as some run rates had reduced early in Q1 due to tight propylene supply.
Demand in Q1 was very strong for all grades resulting in a competitive market for buyers. Some players were unable to source any spot material and others were unsatisfied with the volumes they can secure. There was a strong pull of NBA to markets such as butyl-acetate and acrylate esters and for 2-EH to plasticizer dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP). Steep price increases throughout the quarter have seen some buyers reduce off-take.
US oxo-alcohols supply during Q1 tightened on strong demand, restricted supply of propylene and a severe mid-February winter storm in the central and southern US that worsened already tight supply conditions by forcing regional petrochemical outages. Buyers continued to face volume allocations and extended lead times as the supply chain struggled to recover at the end of Q1. Supply to customers also remained stymied by ongoing transportation strictures.
Demand from architectural and automobile coatings and plasticizer-based automotive-component manufacturing continued to outpace supply throughout Q1 but was generally steady despite some mid-quarter slowdowns in the housing markets caused by the winter storm. Month-on-month housing starts were down in February, as were sales of existing homes and new single-family homes. The automobile manufacturing sector was stymied by a global shortage of semiconductors, which contributed to automotive production cuts.
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The alcohols (NBA, IBA, and 2-EH) have some uses just as solvents, but are primarily used as feedstocks for other products.
The oxo-alcohols chain consists of n-butanol (NBA), isobutanol (IBA), and 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH). Around 50% of 2-EH is used to make plasticisers, mainly dioctyl phthalate (DOP).
DOP is a plasticiser, which is material used for plastic, typically polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to enhance its flexibility and malleability. Di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) is also a plasticiser.
NBA is a feedstock for butyl acrylate and methacrylate, butanol-based glycol ethers, butyl acetate (butac), and some plasticisers. IBA is used as a solvent for nitrocellulose, in hydraulic fluids, and as a resin modifier.
Key drivers for oxo-alcohols are the construction industry (home and commercial), the appliance industry, the automotive industry and industries that need imperial coating material.
In addition, the alcohols NBA, IBA, and 2-EH have some uses just as solvents.
Health risks include irritation to the eyes, skin and respiratory tracks when inhaled.
In Europe DOP has been re-labelled to a higher-risk category, featuring the skull and crossbones on packaging and machinery where it is used. DINP remains in the category below but is under investigation.