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 Q2 2021
Supply for 2-EH and NBA was extremely tight in Q2 during the turnaround season in China and continued production disruptions around the world. Supply was tightened further as major NBA supplier Formosa Plastics Corp lowered the operating rate at its plant in Mailiao, Taiwan, due to some technical issues, around mid-April. 2-EH supply was also tighter in Japan, as Mitsubishi Chemical started on its planned two-month-long maintenance turnaround in mid-May.
Demand for 2-EH and NBA was lower in Q2, as high feedstock costs saw downstream producers cut operating rates due to weak margins in some downstream markets, such as butac and plasticizers. The decline was partially mitigated by firm demand in the downstream butyl-A market, on the back of robust demand for exports amid a global shortage.
In the first half of Q2 spot supply was tight for IBA and 2-EH and extremely limited for NBA. Spot prices soared for all grades on the back of supply constraints. By mid-Q2, tightness peaked as supply disruptions consolidated with BASF, Sasol and Grupa Azoty on force majeure. The supply of IBA and 2-EH began to lengthen from mid-Q2 as run rates improved. NBA supply eased less consistently than the other grades.
Throughout Q2, buying interest in NBA was the strongest and demand for IBA was more stable but weaker. At the outset of the quarter, demand was strong for all grades and buyers secured more material in advance than typical. By June, some pockets of calmer buying emerged but overall, fundamental demand remained robust. There was notable pull into the construction and automotive industries throughout the quarter.
Supply has been tight since late Q1 and throughout Q2. The largest driver for this tightness was the fallout from winter storm Uri, which brought a hard freeze to production sites in the US unaccustomed to such weather. Since so much of the production of oxo-alcohols is in Texas, supply chains have been impacted more severely than for those of other products.
Demand in Q2 was strong, especially from the paints and coating sector. Coronavirus cases have declined by almost 80% in the US these past three months, leading to a more open economy. Due to soaring lumber futures earlier in the quarter, market players were concerned about new home builds, and backlogs were already noted from some builders. However, lumber futures have significantly declined since mid-May.
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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.