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Updated to Q3 2019
Supply from southeast Asia decreased slightly on planned shutdowns and more internal usage from some refineries for gasoline production. Supply in northeast Asia was mostly flat, with continuously low downstream TDP operating rates on weak margins, and healthy gasoline demand from the driving season in the West. Supply in China was curtailed by strong domestic gasoline demand from the domestic refineries as well.
Demand from Chinese importers improved on a decrease in shoretank inventories at east China and overall strong demand from gasoline blenders, on positive economics. India demand was strong throughout because of healthy import distributor margins. Southeast Asian demand was strong in August and September from both gasoline and solvent sectors.
Healthy supply dominated, despite the summer driving season when fuel-blending components are often in high demand.
This carried over from the second quarter’s lengthy supply as Italy’s Versalis and Petrogal’s Portuguese refineries were believed to be well back from earlier disruption, while short-term supply impact from the power outage at INEOS’ Dormagen plant faded in the rear-view mirror.
An increase in August contract prices was attributed to giving producers an incentive to extract toluene from the blending pool.
Turnarounds in the downstream TDI market including in Hungary, teamed with a weak outlook for other TDI output.
Hydrodealkylation economics were negative most of 2019, meaning little incentive to produce benzene with toluene. Spreads with benzene ricocheted back into positive territory (on a 1.2 ratio) in August and September for a few weeks, mainly due to a tight benzene market.
Depressed automotive performance and poor economic sentiment were factors underlying weak demand.
Supply lengthened during the third quarter amid increased refinery rates during the summer gasoline season and imports from Asia. Expanding capacity in Asia has added to US supply, making it increasingly dependent on imports. Meanwhile, consumption was negatively impacted by poor margins for toluene disproportionation units that produce on-purpose benzene.
Demand increased in the third quarter due to the summer gasoline season. Lengthening supply did put downward pressure on the market, pushing prices closer to the blend value and discouraging producers from extracting it from the gasoline blending pool for sale in the chemical market. Downstream consumption was limited by under performance in certain sectors due to global economic headwinds.
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