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 Q4 2019
Phenol supply in Q4 was lower, due to reduced run rates across several major plants including South Korea’s LG Chem and Kumho P&B; Taiwan’s Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp (FCFC); Mitsui Phenol Singapore (MPS); Japan’s Ichibara-based Mitsui Chemicals and India’s Deepak Phenolics. The cuts occurred due to poor margins. There were also turnarounds at Taiwan Prosperity Chemical Corp (TPCC) and at plants located at Shanghai Caojing park, which houses a quarter of China’s phenol capacities.
Phenol demand in Q4 was subdued on sluggish downstream consumption. Major derivative bisphenol A (BPA) prices only caught up in the last month of the quarter; cyclohexanone prices were largely weak. Phenol consumption showed little improvement despite cyclohexanone plant, Jiangsu Weiming, starting up in December. The plant relied on existing feedstock inventories and did not buy spot volumes. There was little motivation to seek January-arrivals, with the Lunar New Year falling on 25 January.
Spot phenol supply was limited in the fourth quarter of 2019, as producers had reduced run rates to cater only to contracted volumes and to reduce the oversupply of co-product acetone. Availability was lengthened, however, as downstream demand slipped into derivative products bisphenol-A, caprolactam and the nylon chain. Outages at INEOS Phenol and Borealis had no noticeable impact on availability of contracted volume, while imports from the US and the startup of the Omsk plant in Russia added to market length.
Demand for downstream products slowed in the later months of 2019, as a result of ongoing poor performance in the construction and automotive sectors, seasonal factors and a fragile macroeconomic climate. Industrial action in Finland exacerbated slower demand for phenolic resins. Imports of bisphenol-A and other downstream product from Asia also reduced demand for domestic phenol.
Supply of US phenol was steady and balanced in the fourth quarter, despite the closure of a feedstock cumene-producing refinery in mid-2019. Sources estimate the US had an overall phenol operating rate of 80-85% in late 2019. Lower demand and oversupply of co-product acetone did impact phenol production, but also kept the markets from getting tight.
Demand decreased during the fourth quarter as a low season, trade tensions and a global economic slowdown hurt demand from downstream sectors. Demand was limited by sluggish sales in the automotive sector and an underperforming construction sector. Export activity was thin as overseas demand for US material was limited, with the arbitrage window to Asia largely closed.
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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