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 Q3 2020
Supply of 2-EH and NBA were tight in Q3, due to plant turnarounds in east Asia. In Taiwan, producers also lowered operating rates due to lower RFCC run rates following a fire at an RDS unit in August, which limited feedstock availability. For 2-EH, limited cargoes were available in Korea, while supply was seen to be balanced-to-tight in Japan. NBA supply was also relatively snug.
Demand for 2-EH was relatively stable in Q3, on continued demand for downstream DOTP, which is used in production of medical gloves. NBA demand remained slow for most of Q3, amid subdued growth in downstream demand due to a protracted recovery from the pandemic. Demand remained stable in China, which recovered from the pandemic ahead of the rest of Asia.
Q3 began in a balanced situation with support from the 2-EH market as a variety of export opportunities to Asia took material away from Europe. The planned summer maintenance period saw a couple of producers absent from the spot market and some unplanned issues related to feedstock restrictions saw some run rates curtailed. This resulted in rather snug supply for September.
July proved decent in terms of demand as Europe emerged from lockdowns. August was mixed. Some saw a traditional summer slowdown, particularly in the south, but others noted steady buying as customers sought to recover from losses seen in Q2. September demand was healthy across all grades as those who had reduced stocks in August replenished them.
Q3 supply was steady, with availability balanced to somewhat outpacing demand, which was broadly lower than Q3 2019. Supply remained commensurate with increasing volumes in August and September. However, a resurgent coronavirus in late summer kept the DIY paint sector strong and downstream automobile production improved slowly.
Q3 demand from coatings and plasticizers gained momentum, with September volumes matching strong August levels, potentially plateauing. While coronavirus restrictions eased early in the period, resurgent cases kept some constraints in place and limited some anticipated Q3 growth. While demand from residential construction picked up, commercial paint projects languished, creating uneven recovery despite steady auto-production growth. Broadly, volumes stayed below year-ago levels.
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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.