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 Q2 2021
Saudi Arabia’s Petro Rabigh shut for two weeks starting 1 April. Japan’s Chiba-based Mitsui Chemicals shut for two weeks starting 14 April. Thailand’s PTT Phenol shut Line 1 and ran Line 2 at 60% for a couple of weeks, following a power outage. Taiwan Prosperity Chemical Corp was on a force majeure for 10 days starting 1 June.
Demand was bolstered by healthy derivative margins particularly from BPA. The strong performance from BPA had prompted several producers to postpone their BPA turnarounds to after Q2, resulting in continuous strong phenol consumption.
The market continued to tighten throughout the first half of Q2, before starting to ease a little in the second half. Increased availability of feedstock was mainly behind the more balanced market, and the arrival of some imports. Nevertheless, the market remained tight, especially with Borealis in a planned turnaround in April/May and its subsequent declaration of force majeure on technical issues in mid-June. Versalis also entered its delayed one-month turnaround in mid-June.
Demand was very good in Q2, driven especially by BPA and nylon, with customers pulling very strongly on contract volumes throughout the quarter. Spot offtake was also strong. The phenolic resins sector was supported by a healthy downstream construction market. High feedstock benzene prices did little to deter buying for the majority of customers. There were some planned and unplanned downstream outages in Q2 impacting offtake to a certain extent.
US refinery utilisation climbed, which helped improve feedstock supply. Phenol supply was snug as inventory continued to be rebuilt. Olin had a planned turnaround in April. Pressure on supply persisted amid a stressed supply chain and strong demand, while exports were less of a priority. Extra product was not readily offered, which drove some buyers to lock in future contract material early, especially if they faced a difficult spot market this year.
The housing market continued to be strong despite the pandemic, record-high prices and all-time low inventory, driving demand in wood resins for construction. US automakers continued to adjust production schedules as the global microchip shortage persisted, with sentiment growing that the issue could extend into next year. Players continued to struggle with tight logistics capacity with a lack of railcars and a shortage of truck drivers. ”
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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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