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 2019
Taiwan Prosperity Chemical Corp (TPCC) extended its turnaround beyond January. A fire occurred during the initial start-up phase. Formosa Chemical and Fibre Corp (FCFC) was shut for scheduled maintenance from February. India’s Hindustan Organic Chemicals (HOC) and SI Group had short shutdowns due to plant issues in January. Buyers also stocked up in the lead-up to Thailand’s PTT II scheduled turnaround, expected in April. Phenol prices softened from early March, alongside feedstock benzene.
Asia spot phenol demand was strong in the first quarter, on the back of tightened supply from turnarounds and stocking activities for the Lunar New Year in H1 February. In India, spot procurement increased, as contractual volumes were affected when two domestic producers, Hindustan Organic Chemicals Limited (HOCL) and SI Group faced production issues in January. Taiwan Prosperity Chemical Corp (TPCC) extended its scheduled restart to end-January following an explosion during the initial restart in H1 January.
European phenol supply was balanced at the start of 2019 after the lifting of INEOS’s force majeure in December 2018. The Swiss-headquartered seller declared the force majeure on its Gladbeck and Antwerp facilities originally in October due to low river Rhine water levels. Some participants still found securing volumes difficult in early 2019, as there was a premium on available material. There were also production issues globally in the first quarter, although no large impact was felt in Europe.
There were strong and steady levels of demand for European phenol in the first quarter. The downstream phenolic resins market was in particular experiencing high order book volumes at the start of 2019. This was not the case in the caprolactam (capro) market, which is another phenol application. Capro consumption was quiet in the first quarter due to a knock-on effect from limited nylon business and weak automotive performance.
US phenol supply was tight during the first quarter of 2019, with issues at three producers that yielded three separate force majeures. Shell was down for a month for repairs. Weather-related logistics issues prevented Altivia and AdvanSix from receiving cumene, prompting a reduction in operating rates. Both companies were impacted for about two weeks. Very little material was available for domestic spot or export markets, as most material went to fulfil contractual obligations.
US phenol demand remained robust in Q1 2019. Demand is strong in epoxy resins, phenolic resins and nylon sectors, but softer in polycarbonate (PC) sectors amid PC oversupply. Despite seasonally lower demand in downstream sectors, demand outpaced domestic supply levels amid three producer force majeures. Supply was tight. Contract buyers were largely covered, but some customers had trouble securing product. This put upward pressure on domestic spot prices, and some buyers took increases.
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.