The ICIS styrene butadiene rubber report (SBR) is published in Asia, China, Europe and the US. Our network of locally-based reporters gather market intelligence to published independent price assessments for 1502 non-oil grade and 1712 oil-extended grade in Asia, China and the US, while Europe’s grades are 1500, 1723 and 1783. There are contract and spot prices, depending on region.
News and analysis gives you trustworthy information to use while making those vital commercial choices. Commentary can include economic news, spot business, regional updates, feedstock developments as well as demand and supply trends.
Updated to Q4 2020
Asian plants were mostly running at higher rates in Q4 as regional economies had largely reopened after lockdown measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic were eased or lifted. Despite some production issues and maintenance shutdowns in September and October, production in China, southeast Asia and India largely increased during Q4 2020 compared with H1, when most plants had run at reduced rates due to the lockdown measures.
Demand remained firm during Q4 2020 as market activities and trades gained momentum following the reopening of regional economies. Demand was bolstered by downstream tyre factories, which ran at increased rates due to the rebound in the Asian automotive sector. Trading and business activities picked up amid the ongoing efforts by the governments in Asia to stimulate and bolster their economies.
European SBR December contracts increased by triple digits on the back of surging feedstock costs, limited supply and good demand. Spot prices were on an upward trajectory on tight supply and continued exports to Asia. Availability in Russia was also lacking in the last quarter of 2020.
After demand was hit heavily in the automotive and tyre sectors earlier in the year, demand recovery has been cautious. Due to the rising spot prices, some pre-buying activity helped boost demand as consumers secured supply. Demand for exports was quite healthy in Q4. Tyre shutdowns took place over the Christmas break and activity slowed towards the end of the year.
Q4 supply increased following numerous storm-related disruptions during an active and later-than-expected hurricane season. Producers looked to ramp up operating rates as storm-related disruptions eased and feedstock BD supply became more available following supply chain disruptions throughout Q3 into Q4. As of December, most SBR producers were receiving their full contract allotment, allowing them to start building inventories during the typical destocking season as downstream demand rebounds from the pandemic.
Demand increased as key end segments such as automotive and construction continued to rebound and recover from the onset of the pandemic earlier in the year. Demand also increased as producers looked to catch up to pent up demand during numerous disruptions during an active and later-than-expected hurricane season. Producers were largely sold out during the typical destocking season, looking to secure as much feedstock supply as possible in order to inventory build ahead of expectations of a steady demand recovery throughout 2021.
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Styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) is the most widely used synthetic rubber. Emulsion SBR contains 23.5% styrene and 76.5% butadiene.
Styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) is similar to natural rubber in its resistance to mild solvents and chemicals and, like natural rubber, can be successfully bonded to many materials. No acute health hazards are known or expected for SBR.
Styrene butadiene rubber is the largest volume synthetic rubber. With over 70% of SBR being consumed in the manufacture of tyres and tyre products, demand is very much dependent on this sector.
There are two major types of styrene butadiene rubber – emulsion SBR and solution SBR. There is a trend towards the increasing use of solution SBR as it is able to meet the increasingly stringent specifications in the manufacture of high performance tyres.
SBR is produced by the copolymerisation of butadiene with styrene in the approximate proportion of 3:1 by weight.
Emulsion SBR is produced using a continuous process while solution SBR can be produced on both continuous and batch processes.