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 Q1 2019
The Asian propylene oxide (PO) market saw ample availability in the first quarter, with supply overhang weighing heavily on spot pricing. Most regional producers and traders held on to high inventories, resulting in harsh competition to sell in the key China market on both US dollar and Chinese yuan bases. As such, spot pricing took a hit, softening as sellers sought to encourage cargo uptake with lower offers.
PO cargo uptake was sluggish throughout the first quarter, especially when it was a buyers’ market amid ample stocks among regional PO makers. Most buyers were not keen on stocking up on cargoes, especially since the downstream polyether polyols sector was not faring well. With the downstream demand conditions being tepid, PO demand was also directly impacted. Buyers were seen purchasing strictly on a need-to basis to address immediate requirements.
European propylene oxide (PO) has been well-supplied to on the long side during the first quarter for various reasons. The derivative polyols market has been weak – which has freed up some volumes and the derivative mono propylene glycol (MPG) market has been relatively flat amid a mild winter season. In addition, there has been some stock-build ahead of forthcoming cracker and PO turnarounds.
European PO demand has varied during the first quarter, depending on end sector. The downstream polyols market has remained subdued, while the downstream mono propylene glycol market has been relatively flat amid a mild winter season. Certain sectors such as flame retardants adhesives are being impacted by cost pressure and strong competition. By contrast, PO starch based food applications and surfactants have been performing relatively well.
Updated to Q4 2017
PO supply is likely to tighten as demand increases on concerns about availability because of production issues after hurricane Harvey. In the US, there are four major producers of propylene oxide (PO), with the bulk of production being captive, and, as a result, minimal market information is available.
Demand for PO and downstream polyols is rising in early October, on industry participants’ concerns about securing inventories in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey. However, the increase in demand may moderate as plants regularise production.
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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.
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