Price and market trends: Asia BPA buoyed by import buying

08 September 2016 23:10 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

 

Asia’s spot prices of bisphenol A (BPA) climbed to a new three-month high, underpinned by import buying activity amid limited availability of spot cargoes going into September, industry sources said on 30 August.

On 26 August, spot BPA prices averaged at $1,125/tonne CFR (cost and freight) China, up by $5/tonne from the previous week to levels not seen since late May.

Pockets of import demand buoyed market sentiment, helping to soak up regional supply.

A couple of BPA spot parcels for September delivery changed hands the prior week at the high-$1,000/tonne CFR China levels.

China hosted the G20 Summit for the first time in Hangzhou City in Zhejiang province on 4-5 September. Spot BPA supply is expected to be curbed as petrochemical plants in the surrounding areas in eastern China were mandated by local governments to either shut operations or reduce production in the weeks leading to the summit to improve air quality.

LOW OPERATING RATES

Meanwhile, several BPA plants in Asia are running at below-optimum levels, limiting spot supply availability. Buying interest downstream – particularly in the epoxy resins sector in northeast Asia – was characterised as lacklustre.

In Taiwan, Nan Ya Plastics is running its BPA plant in Mailiao at about 50% of capacity, as it carries out regular partial maintenance. The turnaround affecting two out of four lines at the facility with a total combined capacity of 440,000 tonnes/year is expected to last until the second half of September.

In South Korea, Kumho P&B Chemicals is running its two BPA lines in Yeosu with a combined capacity of 300,000 tonnes/year at an average rate of around 70%, a level it plans to maintain for now.

Industry players are cautiously optimistic in the near term for the BPA market, expecting prices to increase. But gains will likely be limited by subdued epoxy resins demand.

Meanwhile, some market players were taking a wait-and-see stance on the market, monitoring any potential influence from volatility in upstream benzene and phenol markets before taking firm positions.

China domestic prices of BPA have also chalked up gains in recent weeks, reflecting the strength in the regional markets.

By Melanie Wee