US IPA spot prices rise amid some foreign supply concerns

Author: Deniz Koray


HOUSTON (ICIS)--US isopropanol (IPA) spot prices rose last week after declining for several months, as imports are expected to decline in the short term due to several outages in Asia.

IPA spot prices rose 2 cents/lb ($44/tonne) on the low end and 4 cents/lb on the high end. Prices are now assessed at 57-62 cents/lb FOB (free on board) tank truck US Gulf.

Due to the nature of the uptick, the range of IPA prices in the market also widened.

In the late spring, when IPA prices soared, there were very wide ranges. These narrowed in H2 2020, especially as prices decreased.

While spot prices rose, domestic prices were unchanged ahead of price increase nominations. Prices for IPA delivered (DEL) US Gulf remain at 54-60 cents/lb.

The uptick in the spot market comes as separate price increase nominations have emerged in the broader market. This is considered to be the first time for such nominations since spring, when IPA prices soared amid a run on sanitizers and disinfectants.

Even with coronavirus cases continuing at record-breaking paces in November, market players in the US said there was not a discernible demand spike yet this winter.

However, supply has tightened on imports due to production issues abroad.

There is a scheduled turnaround ongoing at Mitsui's plant in Sakai, Japan, through November. Additionally, LG's output at Yeosu, South Korea, is limited following a fire. Several market participants were sceptical they could receive imported product from that facility through mid-December in the US.

IPA domestic production has grown this year, and even before the increased output, the US market was not driven by imported product. However, Asian importers generally provide a steady supply of IPA for West Coast buyers, under normal production conditions.

The separate price increase nominations can be seen below.

Company Product Date of Proposed Increase Amount
Dow IPA 1-Dec 6 cents/lb
ExxonMobil IPA 18-Nov 6 cents/lb
LyondellBasell IPA 1-Dec 6 cents/lb

Multiple market participants observed the proposed price increase nominations. Representatives for Dow, ExxonMobil and LyondellBasell did not comment.

IPA is a solvent used in many industrial and consumer products and as an extractant. Applications include cosmetics, personal care products, de-icers, paints and resins, pharmaceuticals and inks and adhesives.