ICIS publishes our reliable and trustworthy propylene oxide report in Asia, Europe and the US on a weekly basis. Independent and unbiased pricing assessments are quoted for spot and contract, depending on the region. Our locally-based reporters gather market intelligence to compile commentary to include insight into demand and supply movements, upstream and downstream trends, trade and production data and any other key influencing factors that may impact prices in the market at the time.
If you’re involved in this market, ICIS can provide you with this essential tool to make informed and confident business choices.
Updated to Q2 2021
The Asian region initially struggled with a shortage of PO, following unexpected outages at two Middle East-based facilities in March. Import availability to China took a heavy hit. Towards the later part of the quarter, supply rose on the back of new start-ups in the Chinese domestic market. The return of Middle East-based units to regular production added to supply.
Cargo uptake among regional buyers, especially those in the Chinese market, was largely stable in the earlier part of the quarter. However, persistently strong PO pricing, buoyed by the supply shortage, led to cautious buying among some buyers. The arrival of the seasonal demand lull in the PU sector later in the quarter weighed on buyers’ confidence, especially with waning demand in the southeast Asia market for polyols.
“Spot supply lengthened through Q2, but any improvement was gradual. As a result, the market watched propylene levels closely. Constrained supply saw derivatives markets compete for the feedstock. Some downstream producers could not run their plants at full rates due to limited PO.
The buying appetite for PO in Q2 was healthy with a strong pull from polyols, propylene glycols and glycol ethers. MPG and glycol ether prices trended downwards but remained at a high level. Polyols margins climbed throughout the quarter and pull into this market was very strong.
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Over 80% of propylene oxide (PO) goes into two main uses: polyether polyols (60%) and propylene glycol (21%).
Propylene oxide (PO) is a very volatile, colourless, flammable liquid with a characteristic ether-like odour. PO reacts violently with chlorine, ammonia, strong oxidants and acids causing fire and explosion hazards.
Propylene oxide is a highly reactive chemical used as an intermediate for the production of numerous commercial materials. The largest derivative of PO is polyether polyols, one of the main components used in the manufacture of polyurethanes. Propylene glycol (PG) is the second largest PO derivative.
Propylene oxide is made traditionally by chlorohydrin or epoxidation routes. The propylene oxide/styrene monomer (PO/SM) epoxidation process had been gaining in popularity due to its superior economics. However, new PO technologies that do not made coproducts have now been commercialised.
General downstream PO sectors include bedding and furniture; construction and automotive.