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 Q2 2021
Supply in northeast Asia started to ease in Q2, with several plants in China coming back on stream at the end of the turnaround season. However, supply remained slightly tight due to planned maintenance and unexpected shutdowns in South Korea and Japan. In southeast Asia, supply lengthened further as the Philippines’ Petron Corp resumed operations at its fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) units in end-May, after shutting around mid-February due to economic reasons.
Buying sentiment was lacklustre in China in Q2 due to ample domestic supply and weakness in the key downstream PP market. However, demand was buoyed by healthy margins in other downstream markets, such as oxo-alcohols. There was also some prompt demand from South Korea and Japan due to planned maintenance and unexpected disruptions to production. In southeast Asia, demand was lifted by firmness in the PP market.
Refinery output has been curbed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic meaning some propylene production will not return. Planned refinery and cracker maintenances were underway, alongside several unplanned hiccups too, so European supply was generally fairly tight throughout Q2. Derivative maintenance turnarounds helped to offset any outages to some extent and later in the quarter, Asia-origin volumes were being imported to help relieve the tight market.
Demand remained healthy through Q2. Offtake levels have been very strong aside from that impacted by planned and unplanned production issues. Margins may be considered at a peak now on some derivatives but this has not impacted upstream supply and pricing. Inventory levels have stayed low and supply chain issues have had an effect on some derivative chains.
Supply was exceptionally tight to begin Q2 and although production and inventories improved, contract prices finished the quarter at their highest levels in over six years, aside from a brief spike in the wake of winter storm Uri. Refinery utilisation in Q2 picked up in response to resurgent transportation fuels demand, but splitter capacity limitations curbed the ability of oversupplied RGP to loosen the PGP market.
Demand for PP as well as some other key propylene derivatives stayed firm on persistent strength in manufacturing activity and projections of a strong expansion in US GDP growth in 2021. PP inventories rose from Q1’s multiyear lows, but stock levels remained below pre-pandemic averages. In addition to strong end-user consumption, downstream producers’ efforts to replenish inventories before the onset of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season sustained demand for propylene in Q2.
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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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.