US February oxo-alcohols prices move up on supply, feedstock pressure

22 February 2018 23:00 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US February oxo-alcohols free-market contract prices were assessed higher on Thursday  by 7-9 cents/lb ($154-198/tonne) on some supply constraints and pressure from January feedstock propylene.

Arrow upThe gains took n-butanol (NBA), for example, to a new range of 89-97 cents/lb DEL (delivered), as assessed by ICIS.

The sharply higher January propylene contract primarily drove the price efforts, but strong oxo-alcohols demand and tight supply – especially 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) – also underpinned the 5-10 cents/lb initiatives.

None of the suppliers backed away from the price efforts, a buyer said, because the oxo-alcohols are so reactive to propylene.

A seller conceded that competitive imports limited some of its intended gains, but that increases were achieved largely at proposed levels.

With February propylene weaker, no March initiatives have surfaced, and downward price pressure on the oxo-alcohols and other propylene derivatives will continue to surface.

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Counterbalancing some of that upstream weakness will be the approaching spring demand peak bolstered by ongoing demand related to recovery from late-2017 hurricanes and California wildfires.

Meanwhile, BASF's force majeure on 2-EH was not yet heard lifted. The measure was implemented at the company’s 2-EH units in Pasadena and Freeport in Texas following an ice-storm in mid-January.

One producer said that although it had no sales limits in place, it had to turn down some new 2-EH business in this month due to tightness in that market.

And Dow Chemical’s NBA reactor at Taft, Louisiana, is nearing the end of a month-long maintenance turn that began early this month.

Spot export ranges remained steady, a source said, partly on few – if any – shipments leaving the US during current snug-to-tight domestic supply amid strong demand.

NBA is used as a solvent and to produce butyl acrylates for the coatings and adhesives industries. Smaller-volume uses are in acetate and glycol ether formulations.

Among the major uses for 2-EH are as a feedstock for chemicals used in the production of paint, automobiles, adhesives and plasticizers, and in building and construction markets.

US oxo-alcohols producers include BASF, Dow Chemical, Eastman Chemical and Oxea.

By Larry Terry