HOUSTON (ICIS)--Spot benzene prices declined on the week, tracking downward movement in crude oil prices.
NYMEX crude dipped below the $46/bbl threshold this week as the US added drilling rigs for a 21st consecutive week while data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed a contrary to expected build in crude oil inventories.
US benzene was assessed on Friday at $2.55/ gal DDP (delivered, duty paid), compared with $2.58-2.63/gal DDP at last week's close.
Liquidity was healthy on the week, with several confirmed deals heard for both the current month and the forward month. Major downstream derivatives such as styrene, phenol, nylon and methyl di-p phenylene isocyanate (MDI) are said to be seeing good demand while the upcoming resumption of full operations at the styrene plant of the SABIC and Total CosMar joint venture should encourage greater benzene consumption in the coming weeks.
The spread between spot benzene and spot styrene prices widened for a third consecutive week. The spread between the two aromatics widened to 12.49 cents/lb ($275/tonne) from 11.92 cents/lb in the prior week.
The arbitrage window between the US and Asia closed again this week after a few fixtures were heard from South Korea to the US in late May.
The contango for US benzene remained largely flat, with June and July cargoes trading close to par throughout the week.
Major US benzene producers include ExxonMobil, Flint Hills Resources, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, Shell and Phillips 66.