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 Q3 2020
Curbed supply amid reduced deep-sea arbitrage naphtha from the west to Asia during the third quarter helped to keep prices buoyant. Hurricanes in the US also curtailed supplies from there. However, the later part of the quarter saw the market easing alongside weak global crude oil futures, amid fuel demand worries as coronavirus infections globally accelerated. Naphtha’s market structure narrowed in backwardation, amid ample supply of heavy grades of the petrochemical feedstock.
End-user demand in parts of northeast Asia was stable to soft in the third quarter. Planned maintenance at some crackers curbed any upsurge in buying appetite. Depending on the grade of the petrochemical feedstock, naphtha demand for olefins production was stable, while that of heavy grade naphtha was tepid amid unfavourable margins in the aromatics sector. This was reflected in spot cargoes achieving premiums for light naphtha in comparison with discounts seen for heavy grades.
Supply remained relatively balanced to tight in Q3, supporting naphtha values. Increased inflows from Russia and a narrowing arbitrage to Asia did exert downwards pressure on the market. The impact was, however, offset by reduced refinery run rates easing down overwhelming inventories piled up during the peak pandemic period. September traditionally marks the beginning of the autumn refinery maintenance season, which supported the fundamentals further.
Demand in the European naphtha market remained rather firm from the petrochemical units, further supported by hurricanes in the US, which impacted 20% of its refinery capacity. This widened the transatlantic arbitrage window for both gasoline and naphtha, creating a fresh wave of demand. Steady downstream petrochemical requirements, however, faced stiff competition from rival feedstock propane, which moderated the impact. Low blending requirements as a result of continued gasoline length contributed to the downside.
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.