US December cumene contract rises on upstream pressure

03 January 2014 23:38 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US December cumene contract price settled higher by 6 cents/lb ($132/tonne, €96/tonne), on a strong push from December’s benzene contract, sources confirmed on Friday.

The increase took the new range to 66-67 cents/lb, as assessed by ICIS.

December benzene, which settled up by 38-39 cents/gal from November benzene contract settlement of $4.10/gal, provided the impetus for the cumene increase.

Supply remains ample on soft downstream demand from phenol, a situation made only marginally worse, some sources say, by the loss of production from the Blue Island Phenol plant near Chicago, Illinois.

An agreed injunction order issued on New Year’s Eve requires the plant’s cumene unit to remain down until the cause of a 13 December explosion and fire at the nearly 30,000 tonne/year phenol plant, is determined.

The plant is among the two smallest phenol plants in the US, so the absence of supply from the site following its force majeure declaration in December is not expected to significantly improve long phenol supply.

Two workers suffered severe burns.

Also downstream, the truck acetone prices were assessed marginally higher for December amid a preponderance of widely varying price-hike nominations with effective dates from mid-December to mid-January. The December barge acetone contract initially settled higher by 5 cents/lb.

Major US cumene producers include CITGO, Flint Hills Resources, Axiall, Marathon, Philadelphia Energy Solutions and Shell Chemical.

($1 = €0.73)

By Larry Terry