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 2020
Supply for 2-EH tightened on the back of some plant turnarounds in east Asia. In India, the start up of a propylene derivative petrochemical products (PDPP) complex in Kochi, which will produce 212,000 tonnes/year of oxo-alcohols, was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. NBA supply was generally stable, but started to tighten in June as some manufacturers switched to produce 2-EH. Snug domestic supply in China continued to drive import trades.
Demand for 2-EH rebounded in Q2, led by the return of industrial activity in China, despite several Asian economies still struggling to recover from the coronavirus outbreak. Demand was supported by sustained recovery in the downstream plasticizers market. NBA demand growth was comparatively slower, as downstream demand stayed sluggish.
Availability was ample in Q2, despite a force majeure from Oxea, which was lifted at the end of April. Other disruptions to production included a week at Perstorp’s unit in Sweden which was impacted by issues at the neighbouring Borealis cracker and Romania’s Chimcomplex remained out of production and postponed a restart given market fundamentals. Other manufacturers had also decreased run rates to account for the impact the coronavirus had on end-user demand.
April and May saw the peak of the coronavirus across Europe result in a number of enforced shutdowns at downstream plants. The fall in consumption hit the automotive sector particularly hard and construction also ground to a halt for many. The domestic paints and coatings sector remained a little healthier, but overall buying was significantly lower than forecast. Towards the end of Q2, export business, mainly for 2-EH started to strengthen to Turkey and Asia.
Supply was steady, mostly balanced to somewhat outpacing demand. Buying interest remained diminished as coronavirus restrictions were still largely in place or beginning to ease. Oxo-alcohols volume was plentiful, especially to coatings makers who supplied the robust DIY sector and to plasticizers customers. The latter saw demand drop off as the automobile sector rebooted during the quarter, but at a slower-than-expected pace.
Demand was steady to broadly softer. Interest stemmed largely from the DIY paint sector, which saw robust activity during coronavirus-related stay-at-home restrictions. While those limits began to lift in Q2, the major end markets of contractor-driven construction coatings and new-automobile coatings were slowly improving. Some customer destocking that appeared to have escalated in May, pushing demand to its nadir, continued into June.
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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.