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 2019
Supply for 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) in east Asia was tight in the fourth quarter amid lowered run rates as some producers sought to manage their inventories and protect margins. A major producer kept its plant shut after planned maintenance work was completed because it was cheaper to buy 2-EH from the spot market. However, while supply in the region was tight, there was an influx of deep-sea cargoes.
While demand for 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) was stable in the fourth quarter, buyers were mulling between purchasing higher-priced material from Asian producers or cheaper deep-sea cargoes with longer lead-times. In the n-butanol (NBA) market, demand was fairly weak as buyers were sitting on high NBA and butyl acetate (BA) inventories. Many were not in a hurry to purchase and some stayed out of the market.
There has been good supply of all the oxo-alcohols, nbutanol (NBA), isobutanol (IBA) and 2-ethyl hexanol (2-EH) during the fourth quarter. All European units have been running to plan and there was talk of some reduced output so that producers could balance inventories in a slow-moving market. This was particularly the case towards year end as export opportunities diminished. INEOS unexpectedly cutback due to the industrial action taking place in France in December.
October can be a fairly strong month, but demand did not perform as many had hoped and buying attitudes remained cautious. The knowledge of good supply and ongoing challenges from the global economic climate and poorly performing automotive sector continued to hamper demand and the end of year slow down saw spot activity disappear as buyers covered needs from contract volumes.
Supply of US oxo-alcohols was balanced to ample during the fourth quarter of 2019. Along with seasonally weak demand during most of the period and a largely downward trajectory in precursor chemical-grade propylene (CGP), oxo-alcohols pricing also trended lower. Supply of oxo-alcohols, used as intermediates in the production of paint, coatings, adhesives and plasticizers, generally outpaced demand during much of the fourth quarter.
Demand for US oxo-alcohols continued mostly weaker at the end of 2019 amid a delayed and below-average downstream architectural and automobile coatings season. Downstream plasticizers markets were oversupplied and saw similarly soft conditions. Although some latent oxo-alcohols demand surfaced just ahead of the Christmas and US Thanksgiving holidays, it was attributed to a wet September-October, when some paint makers often see a final surge of buying interest each year.
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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.
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