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 Q4 2020
Supply for 2-EH and NBA was tight, led by unplanned outages in northeast Asia and beyond the region. Spot supply was short, as the impact from the unexpected shutdown of LG Chem’s cracker in Yeosu, South Korea, trickled down to the downstream markets. In addition, supply was tightened due to the unplanned shutdown of BASF’s NBA plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany.
Demand for 2-EH and NBA rose in Q4 on the back of a surge in demand in the downstream markets, particularly for plasticizers and acrylate esters. Downstream demand was led by greater buying interest from southeast Asia, India, and Europe. In South Korea, there was also an increase in spot demand due to an unplanned outage at a major domestic producer’s plant.
Supply tightened through the quarter and this was accelerated by a force majeure declaration from the largest n-butanol (NBA) producer, BASF, in early December. Inventory levels across Europe were not replenishing as planned even prior to the declaration as there had still been strong export business of both NBA and 2-ethyl hexanol (2-EH) taking material out of Europe. The small Romanian producer, Chimcomplex, resumed production in December following a year of downtime.
Demand in Q4 was much healthier than many expected and the traditional year-end slowdown was not seen. Customers were looking to recover volumes lost earlier in the year during the peak of the first wave of the coronavirus. 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).
Supply in Q4 became more constrained as demand increased toward the end of the period. A major producer began sales controls in December, largely stemming from strong demand. Transportation constraints like truck driver shortages and port and railhead congestion also lengthened domestic delivery lead times for some buyers.
Demand from architectural coatings and automobile production was stronger throughout Q4, contrary to typical year-end patterns. Much of that was attributed to pent-up demand stemming from early 2020 coronavirus lockdowns, which led to construction slowdowns and the temporary shutdown of automobile production. Some demand is from a still strong do-it-yourself (DIY) paint sector and some restocking for early 2021.
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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.