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 Q3 2020
Supply was generally tight, particularly in northeast Asia. In Japan, there were various planned and unplanned shutdowns affecting FCC units as well as steam cracking units. In South Korea, strong domestic demand also led to limited spot cargoes available for exports. Southeast Asia was balanced but tightened towards the end of Q3. With a new PO unit set to begin commercial production in October, one Thai producer cut back its exports in September.
Demand in China was generally stable for imports. In Q3, two PDH units achieved on-spec production, which impacted import sentiment. In late August and early September, the Chinese yuan strengthened against the US dollar, giving importers a further shot in the arm. Demand in South Korea was good with a major PP producer relying on the spot market while its cracker remained shut. Demand in Taiwan and southeast Asia was stable while Japan saw sporadic demand.
European propylene supply was mixed during Q3, depending on grade and location. Supply was balanced-to-tight for polymer grade at the coast, but quite lengthy for chemical grade in the inland sector, which resulted in a wide spread of spot prices being seen. Various cracker outages and ongoing constraints from refineries helped offset derivative outages in September.
Demand was mixed. Overall levels improved, but as demand for those derivatives boosted by the onset of the pandemic cooled off, demand for other derivatives that had not fared so well, began to improve. Planned and unplanned derivative production issues in September lengthened supply in all areas in September, but particularly impacted chemical grade in the inland region.
Propylene was not as affected by the storms that hit the US Gulf Coast in Q3. Outages unrelated to weather curbed production. The prolonged shutdown at BASF Total’s Port Arthur, Texas, cracker, in particular, reduced propylene supply. The growing predominance of ethane as a cracking feedstock, combined with refinery rates remaining below 80%, further limited propylene production.
Demand for US propylene improved from its Q2 trough as economies around the world adjusted to the coronavirus and eased restrictions that would inhibit consumption. US economic activity in manufacturing, a reliable proxy for propylene demand, recovered through the quarter. A recovering automotive industry also buoyed demand. Propylene demand from the PP sector softened, although the demand for PP improved.
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.
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