US IPA prices unchanged; domestic demand is down but foreign shipping costs rising

Author: Deniz Koray


HOUSTON (ICIS)--US isopropanol (IPA) prices continue to be stable. The consistent pricing seen recently has been rare since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prices first surged in the spring, especially at the end of Q1 and start of Q2 and have come down over a longer period of time.

Demand for hand sanitizer, while still higher year on year, has fallen since reaching unprecedented levels in late Q1 and early Q2. Hand sanitizer is now readily available in almost all US markets.

IPA demand has improved in other sectors, but players said the growth was subdued, possibly due to IPA prices remaining higher than they were at the start of the pandemic.

IPA spot prices were last assessed at 58-64 cents/lb FOB (free on board) US Gulf. Domestic prices were last assessed at 56-66 cents/lb DEL (delivered) US Gulf.

Shipping costs, particularly for containers form Asia, have risen drastically in recent weeks.

A market player said there was a shortage of shipping containers for routes from Asia to the US.

US consumer demand has been higher than expected, including for the Christmas season, and there are still too many idled containers in the US. Therefore, the higher shipping costs have not been limited for just IPA or other petrochemicals.

Prices have routinely doubled, and in some cases, full container load rates have tripled or quadrupled. Therefore delivered costs of a variety of imported materials are much pricier than before.

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