HOUSTON (ICIS)--US October benzene contracts settled 13 cents/gal ($39/tonne) lower month on month at $2.85/gal free on board (FOB) US Gulf.
The market had anticipated a lower settlement as spot prices traded below the September settlement for most of the past month.
US benzene contract prices typically settle on the last working day of the prior month and are heavily influenced by movements in spot pricing.
Benzene spot prices were weighed down over the past several weeks by sufficient supply and slower demand.
Refinery operating rates remained high throughout September. Margins for selective toluene disproportionation (STDP) units, which convert toluene into benzene and a paraxylene (PX)-rich stream of xylenes, have been healthy. Both trends suggest higher benzene production.
Demand slowed during the past month on a slowdown in export demand for styrene driven by the restart of a European styrene plant.
Major US benzene producers include ExxonMobil, Flint Hills Resources, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, Shell and Phillips 66.
Benzene molecule photo by Cultura/REX/Shutterstock