About: In appearance, Benzene is a clear, colourless, highly flammable and volatile, liquid aromatic hydrocarbon with a gasoline-like odour Benzene is found in crude oils and as a by-product of oil-refining methods. In industries, benzene is utilised as a solvent, as a chemical intermediate, and is used in the synthesis of numerous chemicals.
Get the latest insights on price movement and trend analysis of Benzene in different regions across the world (Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa).
Benzene Price Trend for the Second Quarter of 2022
The price trends for benzene in the Asia-pacific market were relatively stable compared to the global average. At the start of the quarter, the benzene market was sluggish due to the low market sentiment due to the stringent Covid-19 restrictions.
However, a slight price increase was seen during May when the restrictions were lifted. As a result, the industries renewed production, and the demand from downstream sectors increased, causing the prices to rise. As of June 2022, per ton price of benzene in China averaged 9550-10050 RMB/MT.
Russia fulfills more than 40% of Europe’s energy supply. With the west slapping retaliatory sanctions on Russia, Europe is running the risk of runaway inflation. Due to the raised crude oil prices, benzene prices in the European market are constantly rising.
Also, the strong demand for its derivatives like phenol and styrene nudged the price towards the higher end. For this quarter, the price for benzene averaged 1427 USD/MT FOB Hamburg.
The price trends for benzene are rising steadily in the US market. Amidst tight supply chains and high crude oil, the prices are inflated. With strong demand from the downstream sectors, the prices settled around 1827 USD/MT FOB Louisiana towards the end of the quarter.
For the First Quarter of 2022
Benzene prices in China was 8540 RMB/MT in March. During the Spring Festival, crude oil prices spiked, causing a general increase in bulk commodities. This, along with Shandong's aggressive acquisition of downstream products, ensured that companies ran smoothly, prices were pushed up, and pure benzene had an excellent start. Sinopec's price was increased by 400 RMB/MT to 8,100 RMB/MT on the 7th, and the bottom support was strengthened. Domestic pure benzene was priced at 8,050-8,450 RMB/MT in the first week of March.
For the Fourth Quarter of 2021
In Q4 2021, benzene prices continued their rising trend, increasing by 40 USD/MT from October to December. Volatility in upstream crude oil prices and the expectation for demand aided the region's pricing trend. Additionally, in November, a decline in the value of benzene in South Korea was reflected in the US market, lowering its prices as the country imported 35-40% of the product. However, the prices increased significantly in December, owing to a jump in crude oil prices and strong demand. Thus, FOB Louisiana benzene prices settled in December at 1064 USD/MT.
In APAC, the benzene market experienced mixed performance in the fourth quarter of 2021, owing to the volatility in upstream crude oil prices. Additionally, the buying moment fluctuated in response to downstream manufacturer inquiries. In November, the market in India appeared to be optimistic, owing to the festival season, which resulted in price increases. However, in December, the product's pricing dynamics shifted due to the collapse of crude oil prices and the dip in trading activity associated with the end of the year. Thus, Ex Mumbai benzene prices increased and closed at 1076.93 USD/MT in November, but fell to 971.93 USD/MT in December, indicating a considerable decline.
In the European market, benzene price increase in the fourth quarter of 2021was supported by stable feedstock naphtha prices as a result of upstream crude oil fundamentals. Additionally, energy crises resulted in production cuts, which had an effect on its value. Additionally, ongoing logistical challenges and robust demand from downstream styrene manufacturers bolstered the European benzene pricing trend. As a result, FOB Hamburg benzene prices were assessed at 1111 USD/MT in December, up 156 USD/MT from October.
In Q4, prices remained constant on the top end. December benzene prices in Brazil were at a record high when compared to the previous two months. Prices grew by 9.71% and 4.36% in December, as compared to October and November, respectively. Inadequate supplies of the product and its feedstock in the South American market posed a problem for the region's ability to meet domestic and international market demands. South Korea, the world's largest exporter of Benzene, had likewise reduced its price due to a supply-demand imbalance in the South American market.
For First, Second and Third Quarters of 2021
Throughout the first quarter of 2021, the North American market struggled to meet regional demand for important upstream chemicals. Freezing winters around the Gulf of Mexico forced numerous plants to shut down unexpectedly, particularly in Texas. Demand from downstream industries for thermal insulators, styrene, and polyurethane foams, among other products, pushed up the prices across the region. Meanwhile, weather conditions continued to impede exports and imports throughout January and February, though the situation dramatically improved by March.
Global Benzene prices remained impacted by the United States' overall increase in production and supply during the second quarter. Following the frigid weather conditions, industrial operations in the US improved significantly towards the end of the quarter. However, prices increased significantly from mid-February to mid-May due to a supply deficit in the country, which eased as production resumed in the Gulf of Mexico. Major refiners in the Gulf of Mexico assessed the damage to their plants caused by the winter storm and consequently debottlenecked some plant capacity in Q2 to alleviate the global shortage. As a result, after reaching exceptional highs, benzene prices returned to normalcy, eventually settling at 1140 USD /MT in Texas, USA, in mid-June.
In North America, the benzene market outlook indicated a little dip in the third quarter. In July, FOB Louisiana benzene prices were estimated at 1215 USD /MT. At the start of the quarter, a significant increase in production activities in the United States resulted in a fall in the price of benzene in the US market. Despite the arrival of Hurricane Ida on the Gulf Coast of the United States, the hurricane had a modest influence on benzene prices due to adequate supply availability. As a result, August and September FOB Louisiana benzene prices settled at 1095 USD/MT.
Asian demand for benzene derivatives remained robust in the first quarter of 2021. Plant shutdowns and Chinese lunar holidays had a substantial influence on China's benzene supplies, which took much too long to fully restore production. Margin constraints on overall output continued to be exacerbated by soaring Brent crude oil prices, which reached 60 USD/b in March. Meanwhile, in India, high demand from downstream ABS and LAB producers drove the product’s price curve upward. In March, the FOB Korea benzene prices were estimated to be between 800-830 USD/MT.
The Asian market experienced a benzene scarcity throughout the area due to constrained material availability as a result of worldwide plant turnarounds. Prices in the Chinese market grew during the quarter, increasing the burden on Chinese manufacturers. Additionally, several plant turnarounds, notably those at ENEOS in Japan and Malaysian Petroleum Corporation in April, hampered the region's availability of the product. While in India, an unusual increase in new COVID cases during this time period pulled down local demand for benzene. However, prices remained exorbitantly high, reflecting international cost pressure. After several weeks of steady growth, the prices in India and China eventually hovered at 1061 USD/MT and 1188 USD/MT, respectively.
The prices continued to grow in the Asian market during the third quarter of 2021. The Chinese market exhibited contradictory sentiments; while the prices declined from July to August, they spiked in September due to a variety of factors. Multiple key causes contributed to the situation, including congestion at several Chinese ports and the closure of Ningbo Port, followed by a zero-tolerance coronavirus policy that disrupted supply chains. The monthly average price of benzene CFR Shanghai was 1188 USD/MT in July, down 16 USD/MT in August. In India, the prices rose sharply, owing to increased demand from a variety of end-use industries and an increase in feedstock crude oil costs. In September, ex-Mumbai prices stood at 1139.50 USD/MT. Increased freight costs as a result of the region's severe container constraint also had an effect on the region's prices.
Benzene prices increased in the European market during Q1 2020. The prices increased to a one-year high in January, reaching to a record high of 835 USD/MT, owing to tight supply and strong demand from downstream sectors. Owing to the freezing fallout in the United States and supply restrictions in Asia later in the year due to Lunar New Year holidays, the offers remained unreasonably expensive. Prices began to normalise in March as supply and logistical activity increased.
The European market also saw a significant increase in benzene prices during this quarter, owing to constrained supply from the United States and other regional plants. After a prolonged period of supply shortages and plant turnarounds, supply recovered significantly in the second half of the quarter, as trade from the United States resumed its normal pace by the end of May. Thus, with support from the worldwide market, the price in Rotterdam reached 1510 USD/MT during the first week of May.
In Europe, the benzene market had conflicting sentiments during the third quarter, owing to the volatility in crude oil prices. The beginning of Q3 saw an increase in the price, but later in September saw a decline in its value. It was bolstered by a plentiful supply of stock, increased production rates, and fewer exports due to the region's scarcity of shipping containers. Despite strong demand from the international market and adequate supply of benzene, container shortages hampered shipment and resulted in stockpiling in the domestic market. Thus, FOB Hamburg prices were 1046 USD/MT in July, increased to 1170 USD/MT in August, and then fell to 1060 USD/MT in September.
The South American market had a shortage of polystyrene during the first quarter, as supply of the feedstock benzene remained constricted. Demand, on the other hand, had mixed outcomes as the second wave of COVID paralysed important economies across the region, resulting in reduced mobility and commercial activity, followed by a gradually recovering automobile sector. Despite this, demand for packaging materials remained strong throughout the quarter.
For the Year 2020
The North American Benzene industry saw mixed performance in the third quarter. Benzene demand from the styrene segment remained stable in the region, despite a recent increase in exports and the product’s greater demand in the US. The mixed xylene sector's margins were squeezed due to weak demand from the downstream paraxylene segment. Hurricane Laura caused a wave of manufacturing shutdowns, resulting in a temporary supply deficit. Prices rose sharply, with upstream crude futures rising and prospects improving as trading windows between the US and Asian markets opened.
As numerous new Chinese refineries ramped up production, sellers continued to regret stockpiling inventories, and benzene stocks in the Asian market outperformed the previous quarter. The consumption had been impacted by mixed sales due to unclear market dynamics as numerous economies continued to remove the restrictions. However, it was believed that the demand-supply imbalance would close in Q4 2020, with several Southeast Asian refineries implementing production cuts from September onwards and downstream manufacturing units boosting output in several Asian economies ahead of the Christmas season.
The European Benzene market remained extended in the third quarter, with a tight benzene-naphtha spread, indicating vulnerable market conditions. In addition to the strain of economic consequences from COVID-19, demand from downstream sectors remained seasonally low. Due to an oversupply issue, the pricing graph last exhibited an increasing tendency in July and then steadily tapered off. Automobile plant closures and chronically deteriorating dynamics in the styrene sector have had a significant impact on regional demand. According to market participants, demand improved significantly during the last quarter, but it was not strong enough to push benzene back to pre-COVID levels.
South America Benzene's Q3 results were satisfactory, indicating an uptick in demand from the construction sector as the region recovered from the COVID-caused interruptions. The product margins of benzene continued to widen due to steady demand for polystyrene grades used for food packaging and medical applications.
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Chemical Formula of Benzene:
While producing Benzene using the reformation process, hydrocarbons are boiled with hydrogen gas at very high temperature (somewhere between 60 to 200-degree celsius), which forms hydrocarbon rings and aromatic compounds. The reaction takes place in the presence of a catalyst. These aromatic products are then separated by extraction with the help of solvents, thus, obtaining the desired products.
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