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 Q1 2021
Disruptions in supply of oil and product flows – caused by an unprecedentedly severe winter storm in the US Gulf Coast and the recent blockage of the Suez Canal by a huge container ship – were among the factors driving the Asia naphtha market in the first quarter. This, combined with refinery maintenance, served to limit upstream oil supply, keeping naphthaâ€™s forward market structure in a backwardation, where prompt-month prices were higher than forward months.
Asia naphtha end-user demand was broadly stable during most of Q1, helping to absorb supply. Healthy downstream margins for producing olefins helped to encourage spot demand for light paraffinic naphtha from parts of northeast Asia. Spot cargoes were transacted at premiums during Q1, compared with discounts fetched in Q4 2020. Favourable margins in downstream aromatics sectors also resulted in improved demand for heavy full-range naphtha in the later part of Q1.
Tightness ruled the naphtha market for most of the first quarter. However, in March supply-side fundamentals started to shift with the switch to summer-grade gasoline pushing demand for heavier grades. Competition from rival feedstock propane in the cracking pool increased approaching Q2. Reduced refinery operating rates and production cuts kept the market balanced to tight for most of Q1.
Naphtha demand stayed firm in Q1, largely on the strong performance of the downstream markets and the switch to summer-grade gasoline spec. Despite the tug of war between propane, butane and the relatively expensive naphtha for petrochemicals market share, naphtha retained its lead as the preferred feedstock. Steady olefin margins and accelerating gasoline blending requirements supported naphtha consumption rates in Q1.
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.
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