HOUSTON (ICIS)--US benzene contracts for November settled 5 cents/gal ($15/tonne) lower at $2.80/gal FOB (free on board) US Gulf, marking the lowest settlement since October 2017.
The drop in contract prices followed a decline in spot pricing over the past month. Spot prices trended lower throughout October on sluggish demand for downstream styrene as well as globally long inventory levels.
A slowdown in refinery operating rates during the traditionally slow season for gasoline demand may help ease global length in benzene supply, while expectations of ongoing sluggishness in styrene demand may limit benzene consumption.
Selective toluene disproportionation (STDP) units have been running at high rates on persistently strong demand for paraxylene (PX), while toluene disproportionation (TDP) units have been running at low rates as toluene has traded at a premium over benzene for seven of the past eight weeks.
US benzene contract prices typically settle on the last day of the preceding month and are heavily influenced by late month movements in spot prices.
Major US benzene producers include ExxonMobil, Flint Hills Resources, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, Shell and Phillips 66.
Picture source: Shutterstock