HOUSTON (ICIS)--US benzene contracts for December settled higher as supply limitations kept spot prices at elevated levels throughout the month of November, ICIS confirmed on Friday.
US December benzene contracts settled at $3.30-3.40/gal ($993-1,023/tonne) FOB (free on board), 46-53 cents/gal higher than the November contract settlement.
The settlement was broadly in line with expectations heard earlier this week.
The December settlement was the highest monthly benzene settlement seen since December of 2014.
Spot prices followed a sustained uptrend run during the month of November as delayed import shipments and some difficulties experienced by some refiners at their aromatics extraction units kept prompt supply tight.
Forward-month pricing suggests that elevated prices are likely to dissipate over the coming weeks as refinery operating rates have been improving and more import cargoes have been fixed for shipment to the US in the coming weeks.
A 15,000 tonne cargo of benzene was heard fixed for shipment between Northwest Europe and the US this week, while two shipments totalling 26,000 tonnes were fixed for shipment between South Korea and the US Gulf for shipment in the second half of December.
Spot deals for December were heard this week in the range of $3.24-3.46/gal DDP (delivered duty paid) US Gulf, wider than the previous week’s deal range for December. However, spot prices exhibited some downward motion during the week, with deals heard at $3.41-3.46/gal on Monday, at $3.35/gal on Tuesday and at $3.24/gal on Thursday.
US benzene contracts typically settle on the last working day of the prior month and are heavily influenced by movements in spot pricing.