The Toluene markets are covered by ICIS weekly in Asia, Europe and the US. This reliable and trustworthy tool allows you to stay up-to-date with news and analysis and gives you the confidence to make vital commercial decisions.
Price assessments cover spot activity over the week as well as at close of business in the day, and contract prices are also published in Europe. This market intelligence is compiled by our locally-based reporters and commentary includes news on deals taking place, feedstock movements, demand and supply trends, outlooks, regional focus as well as graphs.
Updated to Q1 2019
Cargoes are likely to be readily available from all Asian makers because of the lack of maintenances within the region. The accumulation of some inventories since the year-end of 2018 is likely to contribute to stable supply, even if there is one plant expected to shut in second-half January.
Usage from various downstreams will vary. TDP users are unlikely to procure more toluene because of the squeezed spreads for benzene production. Chinese importers meanwhile will only be focused on forward February parcels to avoid delivery timing during the Lunar New Year. India demand could improve slightly as distributor margins widen on a potential strengthening of the rupee. Southeast Asian demand is likely to stay flat for the first quarter.
Supply should be steady for the most part of Q1 2019. Higher water levels on the Rhine river should mean better, more consistent output and steadier deliveries from producers hampered in Q4 2018 by logistical and production difficulties. The delayed return of a plant in Portugal was eyed as a potential balancing factor.
European demand in Q1 2019 should increase, signalled by the restart of BASF’s toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) plant which is due in mid to late January after a shutdown related to extremely low water levels on the river Rhine in Q4. Arbitrage to the US was deemed closed as the quarter opened, and much will depend on how pricing progresses led by upstream crude and gasoline values.
Supply is expected to tighten in the first quarter amid refinery maintenance season, putting upward pressure on prices in early 2019. Supply will also tighten after refinery maintenance season ends as producers begin preparing for the switch to summer-blend gasoline season in the spring.
Demand is expected to pick up toward the end of the first quarter on increased demand for octane-enhancing aromatics such as toluene and MX in preparation for summer gasoline season, which begins in the spring. Demand for downstream solvents is also expected to increase amid seasonal upturn.
We offer the following regional Toluene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Toluene marketplace.
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ICIS pricing quotes toluene in Europe, Asia-Pacific, China and the US Gulf.
Toluene is a colourless, mobile liquid with a characteristic sweet, pungent, benzene-like odour. It is an irritant to the eyes, skin, nose and lungs. Toluene is a dangerous fire hazard and can lead to a flashback due to its heavy vapour.
The main chemical use of toluene is to make benzene and xylenes using a number of technologies.
Toluene is also used in solvent applications and is consumed in the manufacture of toluene diisocyanate (TDI) which is used in the manufacture of polyurethane foams. Smaller uses for TDI include polyurethane elastomers and coatings.
Other minor chemical uses include the manufacture of phenol, caprolactam, nitrobenzene, benzoic acid and benzyl chloride.
In non-chemical uses, toluene is used in large quantities as an octane booster in gasoline but most of that portion remains in the refinery streams.
There are three grades of toluene: TDI grade of 99+% purity; nitration grade at 98.5-100%.
The original source of toluene from coke-oven gas has been replaced by the catalytic reforming of naphthas and from pyrolysis gasoline co-produced in the steam cracking of liquid feedstocks. A very small amount is still produced from light oil formed by the carbonisation of coal.
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