Epoxy resins demand vibrant in China; dull in rest of Asia

Author: Ai Teng Lim

2019/10/29

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Epoxy resins demand in China is boosted by firm requirements from newer applications in wind energy and advance electronics sectors.

Wind turbines on Dongchu Island in China (Source: Imaginechina/Shutterstock)

But elsewhere in Asia, where epoxy resins usage is still centered on traditional applications, demand continues to languish alongside poorer showing in industries such as automobiles and construction, market participants said.

In China, yuan-denominated epoxy resins prices have risen this week above yuan (CNY) 25,000/tonne DEL (delivered) east China, nearly 20% higher than September, according to data compiled by ICIS.

Market sources said that this equated to at least $2,500/tonne on import parity basis, and some regional cargoes for November shipment to China were transacted this week at around this level on a free-on-board (FOB) northeast (NE) Asia basis.

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While the yuan-price rally was triggered initially by domestic supplies tightening due to several plant turnaround in the October-November period, market players said that good wind energy-related demand also supported the uptrend.

“Orders for wind turbine blades have stacked up well into 2020,” a trader said, adding that this will ensure steady uptake for epox, which is a raw material required for production of the blades.

China has invested heavily into renewal energy like wind power, with several turbine units under construction, including one in Xinjiang to be operational in 2020, and another in Guangdong the following year.

Epoxy uptake from this sector has helped to fill the gap left behind by China’s beleaguered automobile sector, which has been plagued this year by falling production.

In other Asian outlets, unlike China, epoxy consumption is still heavily reliant on traditional applications such as automobile and construction, with no newer applications in sight.

As such, epoxy demand outside of China remains weak since both these industries have suffered significantly this year with the regional economic slowdown.

Asian epoxy makers thus found it difficult to secure any buyers outside of China even if they were willing to sell at $2,200/tonne FOB NE Asia, down by more than 10% than what China-bound deliveries could have fetched.

If the pricing disparity between China and other Asian markets widen further, it is likely more Asian supplies may flow toward China, at the expense of other outlets such as southeast Asia and Middle East, market players said.

On 22 October, FOB NE Asia assessments for epoxy resins were in the $2,150-2,450/tonne range, according to ICIS data.

Focus article by Ai Teng Lim

($1 = CNY7.06)