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Updated to Q2 2020
With turnarounds gradually ended, supply increased. The market saw some recovery with slightly boosted sentiment.
As the coronavirus situation improved in some parts of Asia, especially China, demand gradually picked up. In addition, oil prices slowly increased, which further boosted buying sentiment.
Toluene supply was adequate in Q2. There were no production issues and product was readily obtainable due to low demand from downstream sectors due to the impact of coronavirus. Furthermore, the availability of toluene in Europe was observed to be better than mixed xylenes. Some distributors of truck toluene were facing issues over increasing inventories. This was due to weak market conditions and buyers were not willing to pay the inflated toluene truck prices.
Price differentials in Q2 between toluene and benzene remained mainly in negative territory making circumstances unfeasible. There has been a large decline in downstream TDI demand since April, but there were moderate signs of an improvement in June. Demand was generated primarily from the blending sector in Q2, but some demand was capped as blenders had other options available. The arbitrage window for supplies from Europe to the US remained mainly closed in Q2.
Supply was stymied as derivative demand waned amid coronavirus lockdown measures. The US continued to be a net importer going into Q2 2020, seeing spikes in volumes compared to previous years’ levels. Refiners indicated toluene supplies were kept in storage facilities rather than prioritised for derivative commodity production. Volumes grew only as imports continued into the US gulf region.
Demand was rather weak as the pandemic forced many producers to reevaluate market conditions, particularly focusing on benzene and other downstream commodity markets. Fuel blending activity, however, showed some resurgence in the quarter amid increased transportation demand and gradual signs that the US economy was prepared to reopen. Some producers noted that demand going into TDP units was very limited during the quarter.
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