For those looking to keep abreast of the global Phenol market, our independent, unbiased pricing information, news and market analysis is an invaluable resource.
Whether you buy or sell Phenol or related products, you need to know about the prices and the factors driving the prices in the global Phenol market as they happen. Our network of price reporters throughout Asia, Europe and the US provide key local insights. We collate this intelligence into daily and weekly price reports, ensuring you have the up-to-date information you need at all times.
Updated to Q1 2021
Supply tightened as US-based Olin shut in mid-February. China’s Cepsa Quimica and Sinopec Mitsui ran at reduced rates after a mid-January power failure. Taiwan Prosperity Chemical was shut from late January to H1 February, Formosa Chemicals and Plastics was shut for three weeks starting from March. Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals was shut from mid- to end-February from an earthquake-related power outage. South Korea’s Kumho P&B shut for 4-5 days in mid-March.
There was increased spot demand for Asia-origin cargoes amid global outages, especially after the Gulf Coast polar storm.
The phenol market tightened throughout Q1 although the start of January saw Borealis lift a force majeure on acetone and phenol production that had come into effect on 28 December. Feedstock restraints restricted output at non-integrated players as refinery rates were lowered due to lockdowns. Imports fell during the quarter because US production declined following February’s polar ice storms. There were fewer exports as the domestic market tightened.
Phenol demand was healthy in Q1 as several downstream sectors pulled hard on contract volumes. Demand for spot was also healthy. BPA demand was strong with both its downstream sectors running hard and the capro market was also healthy. Phenolic resins offtake was good, especially after some substitution for other products in the construction sector. Lockdowns in Europe did little to quash sales at the end of Q1.
Supply was very tight after the winter storm, as it was impacted by widespread feedstock and production issues, with inventory being low across the value chain. Cumene was critically tight, but refinery rates did recover to near pre-storm levels, helping to provide the feedstocks needed to rebuild inventory. Some cumene and phenol was heard to be flowing to Europe, as the market there was even tighter.
Demand had been ramping up even before the storm and continued to strengthen afterward. Buyers scrambled for material, but availability was limited. Despite high overseas prices, export activity was curbed, as the focus was on the domestic market. The storm impacted auto production due to the shortage of chemicals. Other end-users also curtailed production due to the lack of one or more raw materials.
We offer the following regional Phenol analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Phenol marketplace.
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The primary chemical intermediates and derivatives of phenol include phenolic resin, bisphenol-A (BPA), caprolactam, adipic acid and plasticiser.
Phenol occurs as colourless to yellow crystals, with a characteristic carbolic odour which turns pink on exposure to light and air. It is strongly hydroscopic, liquefying in moist air. It is moderately dissolvable in water, but very soluble in ether, methyl and ethyl alcohol, carbon tetrachloride, acetic acid, glycerol, benzene and chlorinated hydrocarbons. The solution in water is a weak acid.
The main chemical intermediates and derivatives of phenol are bisphenol-A (BPA) used to make polycarbonate (PC) and epoxy resins, phenolic resins, caprolactam, alkylphenols, aniline and adipic acid. The largest market for phenol is BPA followed by phenolic resins.
Cumene-based technology is the dominant process to produce phenol. Here, benzene and propylene are reacted to form cumene, which is oxidised to the hydroperoxide, followed by acid-catalysed cleavage to yield phenol and acetone.
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