Price and market trends: Europe oxo-alcohols see stable price trend

21 April 2014 00:00 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

Participants in the European oxo-alcohols market on 9 April mostly indicated stable prices for April, based on good availability and lacklustre demand.

There were some exceptions, with increases and decreases also reported. Not all April prices have yet been finalised. The upstream propylene contract was concluded at an increase of €10/tonne.

A producer of n-butanol (NBA) and 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) observed that demand in March and April was weaker than in the first two months of the year, which is a reversal of the usual trend.

The source said its April spot business was done at a rollover from March, with the propylene increase not being passed onto customers. NBA is performing more strongly than 2-EH, the producer noted.

EU OXO-alcohols

Another producer indicated stable prices for NBA at €1,040-1,050/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) and a slightly firmer trend for isobutanol (IBA), with prices up by €20/tonne at €1,020-1,030/tonne FD NWE. In the case of NBA, these prices were below the level seen by most sources in recent weeks.

A third producer said it has begun to settle its April prices, and has established a price floor of €1,080/tonne FD for sales of NBA and 2-EH into Spain and Italy.

This has resulted in price increases in those regions of at least €25/tonne, the source noted, adding that it was prepared to reduce its sales volumes if necessary, to protect its margins.

A reseller described weak demand and stable prices for April. The source suggested that the absence of a spring recovery was due to higher consumption during the unseasonably warm winter, meaning that sales were spread more equally over the first few months of the year.

Another reseller said prices are under downward pressure despite the rise in propylene costs, and it had consequently accepted decreases of €5/tonne for April.

The source said it had expected April to be a strong month, but had recorded only a slight improvement in demand. The reseller noted that it had not seen higher consumption during the first quarter.

A buyer of 2-EH said its prices were largely unchanged for April, but added that it would not be surprised to see decreases of €20/tonne in response to poor demand.

Oxo-alcohols spot prices were assessed by ICIS on 9 April at €1,100-1,160/tonne FD NWE for NBA, €1,000-1,060/tonne FD NWE for IBA and €1,350-1,430/tonne FD NWE for 2-EH.

By Samuel Weatherlake