ICIS provides reliable and trustworthy weekly price assessments for propylene in Asia, China, Europe and the US. Daily market intelligence is also available for coverage of the Asian markets. Depending on the region, quotations are for spot and contract. Our locally-based expert reporters can provide those involved with propylene or related markets with up-to-date and unbiased intelligence allowing this essential tool to be used in decision-making processes.
Market commentary gives news and analysis on day to day activity, production updates, upstream and downstream movements, import and export activity and any other key factors influencing prices.
Updated to Q1 2021
After easing slightly at the start of Q1 on the back of new and returning capacities, supply in northeast Asia quickly tightened with the start of China’s turnaround season in March. Several major PDH units were taken offline for planned maintenance, including Ningbo Kingfa Advanced Materials’ 600,000 tonne/year unit. Meanwhile, supply was tighter in South Korea with the successful start-up of Hanwha Total Petrochemical’s 400,000 tonne/year PP plant in March.
Demand for propylene imports fell in Q1, as China’s buying sentiment waned due to ample domestic supply following some start-ups as well as weakness in the key downstream PP market. Buying activity increased in February as some supply flowed out of Asia towards the US, following winter-related shutdowns and production cuts. However, apart from some prompt demand in Taiwan and Japan due to unplanned outages, demand remained generally lacklustre in northeast Asia.
Supply stayed tight throughout Q1, but the balance improved in March when compared with January on the back of smoother cracker operations, imports and unexpected derivative issues. Some refinery maintenance got underway.
Demand was very strong. All derivative sectors were healthy and many sought incremental volumes in advance to run fully. High US costs proved a boon for derivative exports and this was exacerbated further in mid-February by the Texas ice storm. Supply chain disruptions and planned and unplanned derivative production issues led to improved availability.
Low refinery utilisation, plant outages and low inventories contributed to market tightness in Q1 even before the winter storm disrupted over three-quarters of US propylene capacity. Outages and rate reductions related to the storm pressured spot prices to all-time highs and drove the largest ever month-on-month increase in contract prices in February. However, refinery rates finished Q1 near pre-storm levels and most propylene-related outages were resolved by April.
Demand for propylene remained strong in Q1 due to healthy end user consumption and continued supply shortages downstream. Following a sharp contraction in the second quarter of 2020, the US economy has rapidly returned to growth, primarily driven by strength in manufacturing as lingering coronavirus-related movement restrictions have caused many consumers to cut back on travel and entertainment spending.
We offer the following regional Propylene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Propylene marketplace.
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News & Analysis – News & market analysis specifically relating to Propylene
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Propylene is a colourless, highly flammable gas. It is produced by several routes, the most common of which is as a co-product of ethylene production from steam crackers.
Propylene is a colourless, flammable gas that burns with yellow, sooty flames. It is a dangerous fire risk because it is highly flammable and explosive when mixed with air or oxygen.
The dominant outlet for propylene is polypropylene (PP). Propylene is also used to produce acrylonitrile (ACN), propylene oxide (PO), a number of alcohols, cumene and acrylic acid.
The two main sources of propylene are as a byproduct from the steam cracking of liquid feedstocks such as naphtha as well as LPGs, and from off-gases produced in fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) units in refineries. The remainder of propylene is produced using on-purpose technologies such as propane dehydrogenation (PDH) and metathesis.
Propylene is highly flammable and needs to be stored in pressurised or refrigerated tanks.
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