The weekly ICIS Naphtha price reports are covered by local reporters in Asia, Europe and the US. News within the report can include, when applicable, Brent crude-naphtha crack spreads, arbitrage opportunities, upstream news, production issues, cracker margins and refinery reports along side the up-to-the minute pricing information. Use the report to find out which different factors are driving prices before making vital business decisions.
Updated to Q2 2020
Heavy volumes of deep-sea cargo flows from northwest Europe to Asia in the early part of Q2 and weak global crude oil prices amid the pandemic weighed on Asia naphtha markets, sending prices to multi-year lows. Towards the end of Q2, countries easing lockdown restrictions raised hopes of a recovery in global fuel and gasoline-blending demand. Margins recovered after falling to negative territory at the start of Q2.
Demand in parts of northeast Asia was poor in the early part of Q2, undermined by planned and unplanned cracker shutdowns. Tepid gasoline-blending demand in Europe because of the global coronavirus pandemic weighed on market sentiment, pushing down Asia margins. Towards the second half of Q2, countries easing lockdown measures saw a pick-up in demand for petrochemical production, while raising hopes of the fuel’s demand as a component for gasoline-blending to gradually recover.
Post the coronavirus outbreak and crippling demand, the open-specification naphtha market had a massive supply glut with most refineries compelled to reduce run rates to 40-60%. Inventory levels surged to historical highs with floating storage being used to stock material, pulling naphtha values to double-digit lows towards mid-April. Towards the end of Q2, supply-side woes started to ease as demand picked up with the easing of lockdown restrictions and business confidence resuming, providing an upward push to outright naphtha prices.
Limited demand pull was observed in the open-specification naphtha market, and it lost ground against rival feedstock propane for consumption into cracker units. With continued length in the downstream markets and gasoline facing headwinds from fragile market conditions, demand for naphtha remained restricted. Buying interest rebounded following the easing in lockdown restrictions, with inventories depleting amid substantial demand pull from Asia.
We offer the following regional Naphtha analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Naphtha marketplace.
News & analysis
ICIS price assessments are based on information gathered from a wide cross-section of the market, comprising consumers, producers, traders and distributors from more than 250 reporters world-wide. Confirmed deals, verified by both buyer and seller, provide the foundation of our price assessments.
Our in-depth market knowledge drives our specialist focus, as we recognise the importance of individual market dynamics and not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Over 25 years of reporting on key chemicals markets, including Naphtha, has brought global recognition of our methodology as being unbiased, authoritative and rigorous in preserving our editorial integrity. Our global network of reporters in Houston, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Mumbai, Perth and Moscow ensures unrivalled coverage of established and emerging markets.
Commentary shows the latest market movement and weekly prices, it is a very fast moving market with lots of factors influencing supply and demand and therefore the price.
Naphtha is a light flammable liquid containing a mixture of hydrocarbon molecules typically with between 5 and 10 carbon atoms. It mainly consists of straight chain alkanes (paraffins) but it may also contain cyclohexanes (naphthenes) and aromatics.
Naphtha is produced primarily from the distillation of crude oil and is the intermediate product between the light gases and the heavier kerosene. It can also be a component of natural gas condensates, the liquid hydrocarbons contained in natural gas.
There are a number of different classes of naphtha and similar naphtha types may be called by different names. Light naphtha will normally have a higher content of straight chain paraffins and is sometimes referred to as paraffinic naphtha or straight run gasoline. Heavy naphtha usually contains more naphthalenes and aromatics and may be called N&A naphtha.
In the petrochemical industry, naphtha is an important feedstock for steam crackers in the manufacture of olefins (ethylene, propylene, butadiene) and aromatics (benzene, toluene, xylene). Paraffinic naphthas are preferred for steam crackers but heavier naphthas can also be used.
Light naphtha can also be used in industrial solvents and cleaning fluids. Applications include varnishes and paints, shoe polish, lighter fluid and fuel for portable stoves and lanterns.
Naphtha is also used to make high octane gasoline using a catalytic reforming process. This process converts heavy, low octane naphtha into high octane products.