IPA imports to US continue to grow, especially from Europe, as domestic prices decline in Q3

Author: Deniz Koray

2020/09/16

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Since experiencing shortages - due to tight supply and overwhelming demand at the start of the coronavirus pandemic - isopropanol (IPA) has reversed course and lengthened in Q2 and at the start of Q3.

The long market has impacted IPA pricing. Although IPA is still more expensive than before it rose in the early days of the coronavirus, prices have continued to trend downward for almost five months.

According to trade data from the ICIS Supply & Demand Database, imports for the last three recorded months are at their highest levels in the last two and a half years.

The table below shows the largest importers to the US in May, June and July.

Country May-20 Jun-20 Jul-20
China 2,197 (tonnes) 2,868 699
Germany 74 238 1,298
Netherlands 83 380 1,407
South Korea 2,636 2,011 2,121
Taiwan 1,154 754 555

Chinese imports fell in July, as margins were squeezed with declining US domestic prices.

Taiwanese imports fell because capacity limits were reached, according to market sources.

However, European imports rose. While European prices steadily rose in March, at the onset of the coronavirus, prices came down more quickly due to declining demand amid the severity of lockdown measures in most European countries.

Even with declining US prices, European producers find opportunities stateside.

Players expect to continue to see European imports for the rest of Q3.

Domestic IPA prices were last assessed at 58-70 cents/lb ($1,279-1,543/tonne).

ICIS Editorial Chart goes here

US IPA suppliers include ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, LyondellBasell, Monument Chemical and Shell Chemical.

Visit the ICIS coronavirus topic page for analysis of the impact on chemical markets and links to latest news.