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 2020
Supply was slightly long early on as propylene producers were experiencing good margins due to low crude oil prices. There were some turnarounds and plant outages, such as in Japan. Other unplanned outages in China resulted in brief rallies in domestic market prices. In May-June, there were also some influx of deep-sea cargoes from Europe, the US and Brazil.
Propylene started Q2 with weak demand and low prices, dropping to a five-year low in April. Demand was also poor from Japan after various automakers shut their production facilities and that led to more length in propylene. The market improved in the second half of Q2 on a China-led recovery. PP did well, with some grades being used to produce face masks.
Supply was mixed during Q2. Some cracker maintenance was postponed, but some refineries cut back rates and/or shutdown which tightened supply, offsetting disruptions to demand downstream. Refinery rates began to improve in May and June, the propane dehydrogenation unit resumed operations and there were a couple of unplanned cracker issues – leading to more balanced market fundamentals as much demand was still soft.
Demand was mixed. Polymer demand for packaging and IPA demand for hand sanitisers supported the market but was not enough to compensate for other derivatives more heavily impacted by the disruption to the construction and automotive sectors. Construction began to recover mid-quarter but derivative operating rates in several areas were low.
Supply fell in Q2 due to sustained production issues and reduced cracking of propylene-yielding feeds. Unfavourable economics for other feeds encouraged elevated ethane cracking, which yields virtually no propylene. Outages at facilities that produce large amounts of propylene, either on purpose or as a co-product, curbed supply in Q2. In addition, drastically reduced refinery rates reduced RGP production.
The global economic collapse brought on by the coronavirus outbreak dampened Q2 demand for US propylene and its derivatives. Sales of durable consumer goods were hit hard by the crisis, causing sales of PP, the largest propylene derivative, to plummet. Fibre and filament sales increased on greater production of surgical masks and medical gowns, but not enough to outweigh demand destruction across large sectors of the economy – for example, the automotive industry.
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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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