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 Q1 2020
Supply was mixed in Q1. Spot cargoes from India as well as deep-sea supply from Russia were ample and available. However, supply from China was limited due to the lockdown imposed by the Chinese authorities to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Other countries in Asia including India, Malaysia and Vietnam also imposed lockdowns in late March to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Lockdowns, border closures, port restrictions and travel bans restricted supply.
Demand slumped in Q1 because of the coronavirus outbreak. Lockdowns, border closures, port restrictions and travel bans crippled demand. China was locked down since the Lunar New Year holiday in late January for most of Q1.Tyre and car makers shuttered their factories or suspended operations at their facilities due to the pandemic.
European SBR supply was readily available in Q1. At the end of 2019 there were efforts to clear inventories for year-end destocking. January and February prices rose on feedstock cost increases. In March, prices fell and sentiment became more bearish towards the end of the quarter as the coronavirus spread, impacting demand levels. Supply remained ample as demand decreased in March for the most part.
European SBR demand started off slowly, improving at the beginning of the year as market players restocked inventories after the Christmas holidays. Demand decreased significantly as the quarter has progressed. Demand in the automotive sector fell sharply as manufacturers were forced to shut in March amid government efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Europe. This has heavily impacted demand in the tyre sector.
Supply was somewhat snug during Q1 as domestic producers grappled with supply-access issues for their key feedstock butadiene (BD). This hampered production to an extent, but buyers typically had sufficient volumes to cover their needs as automotive markets have been sluggish for well over a year. There were not spot volumes available from domestic suppliers. Offers increased from foreign suppliers early in the quarter as coronavirus dented demand in Asia.
Demand continued to be sluggish during Q1. With China demand largely sidelined from the spread of coronavirus, material was ample for other regions. US buyers had no trouble securing supply. Continuing a yearlong trend underscored by underperforming automotive sectors, US SBR markets were steady but not strong. This worsened in late March when the Big 3 US automakers temporarily shut production lines and several tyre producers followed suit to prevent coronavirus spread.
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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.