HOUSTON (ICIS)--US spot benzene prices moved higher in the week ended 7 April, in line with stronger crude oil prices and the recent restart of a major US styrene plant. US benzene prices also tracked firming benzene prices in Asia and Europe.
This week marked the second consecutive week of rising benzene prices after the spot market had dipped to the lowest levels seen since late November in the week ended 24 March.
Americas Styrenics (Amsty) resumed production at its 950,000 tonnes/year styrene plant in St James, Louisiana, the producer announced on Wednesday. Amsty’s restart is likely to stimulate greater demand for benzene in the weeks ahead.
In addition, INEOS Styrolution is expected to resume production at its 1.65m tonnes/year styrene plant in Texas City, Texas in the second half of this month. Another styrene outage, at the 1.1m tonnes/year styrene facility at the Carville Styrenics Complex in Cosmar, Louisiana, is expected to continue into the summer.
US benzene prices also found support from stronger crude oil prices. NYMEX WTI crude futures rose 3.2% on the week to move back above the $52/bbl threshold.
US spot benzene remains in contango with May trading at premium of 0.5-4.5 cents/gal during the week.
US spot benzene prices were assessed at $2.88-2.89/gal DDP on Friday, up from $2.73-2.75/gal in the prior week.