LAS Prices (Q4 2021)
Under the influence of strong-getting benzene feedstock on the basis of decreasing upstream crude oil supplies, talks for LAB in the Asian market remained steady until mid-November. The downstream cleaning and detergent business intensified their purchase patterns around November-end in order to fill their stockpiles and avoid any delays in catering to customer requests due to a modest decrease in pricing on the capped upstream market. The boost in import activity, as well as the year-end stock-clearing trend among Indian manufacturers, helped to keep LAB prices in check in December, with prices ranging from 1718 USD/MT to 1908 USD/MT.
The North American LAB market showed signals of bullishness in October and November, with prices constantly climbing. The price increase was primarily driven by a scarcity of benzene supplies in the face of soaring upstream crude oil prices, as well as reduced production in the US plants recovering from hurricane Ida-related damage. Traders were also concerned about the spot market's stifled activity. The increase in raw material supply towards the end of November and December resulted in lower prices in the US market. Furthermore, the reduced port congestion allowed for increased offtakes in the foreign downstream industries, allowing December prices in the United States to hover around 1840 USD/MT FOB Louisiana. Meanwhile, demand for domestic cleaning and personal care products remained stable in the local market.
For the majority of the quarter, high volatility in upstream crude oil prices and sluggish demand from downstream industries kept LAB prices buoyant in Europe. Despite improved feedstock availability, LAB prices in Germany fell marginally in December to 2430 USD/MT FOB Hamburg, owing to a jump in demand fundamentals due to increased cleansers and detergent usage as a result of the resurgence in Coronavirus infections. As a result, the pricing and demand of LAS followed a similar trend.
LAS Prices (Q1-Q3 2021)
During the first quarter, the Asian market had conflicting attitudes, with demand from downstream detergent segments being steady but varying by nation. The price of LAB was boosted throughout this quarter by strong crude oil prices and lower spot availability of benzene. As a result, LAB prices in the region rose. Despite stable demand fundamentals in the Indian market, the value increased from 1383.7 USD/MT in January 2021 to 1467.5 USD/MT in March 2021. In Q3 2021, the general market outlook for LAB saw a sustained rise in pricing trend across the Asia Pacific region. Following a lull in early August, discussions about LAB turned optimistic in India, owing to a steady rise in crude oil prices and increased use for the downstream LABSA. Furthermore, because LAB deliveries in India were insufficient to meet overall demand, buyers were eager to refill cargoes at higher prices to minimise any negative impact on consumer sentiment during the next festive season. During the third quarter, the price of LAB increased from 1967 USD/MT to 2154 USD/MT. This price volatility of LAB also affected the prices for LAS.
Devastated production activities along the Gulf Coast of the United States halted total LAB output in the region. Several large refineries, including ExxonMobil, Total, and Shell, experienced unanticipated turnarounds due to the cold weather, reducing the supply of all prime upstream chemicals, including feedstock benzene. During this time, it is estimated that more than 74% of total benzene production was suspended, causing LAB prices to skyrocket. The prices increased dramatically in North America in Q3 2021, owing to steady demand from downstream industries. During Q3 2021, supply side difficulties in the manufacture of LAB were exacerbated by a lack of upstream benzene due to decreasing inventory levels and rising raw material costs. In the third quarter, increased demand from the downstream surfactant business pushed LAB pricing upward. Regional traders were concerned about hampered transportation activity and high freight expenses.
Benzene prices in the European region, unlike those in Asia and North America, were trending downward, owing to ample supply and weak demand. The second wave of COVID-19 had an influence on downstream industries' functionality, keeping the LAB demand low. However, the region's export prices were supported by high freight costs and a shipping container shortage. During the third quarter of 2021, the European domestic market had conflicting sentiments. In terms of supply, the region's upstream benzene supplies remained tight, affecting LAB supply fundamentals. Due to lower operations at downstream plants throughout the quarter, demand for LAB from the surfactants industry remained muted.
Linear Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate Prices Overview 2020
For the quarter ended September 2020, the market for raw material Linear Alkyl Benzene (LAB) was quiet. Although there was little change in demand fundamentals as a result of the epidemic, the contract prices due were obscured by negotiations spurred by dealers to commence better offtakes. Despite this, the detergent and cleaning industry's increasing demand failed to generate significant gains, as manufacturers saturated the market with surplus supply. The lingering prognosis of LAB was expected to bounce back by the fourth quarter, owing to sustained growth in market sentiments of feedstock benzene.
The LAB market in Europe was strong in the third quarter, with continued demand for surface cleaning solutions under tight industrial hygiene norms. The reappearance of the coronavirus in some sections of the region further increased the consumption of LAB in surfactants and derivatives, increasing the demand for LAS as well. With no signs of a turnaround in the near future, market participants were wary of supply outstripping demand, resulting in lower profit margins.
The demand for LAB in the region expanded significantly as a result of increasing usage of surfactants and cleaning products as a preventive measure against the global pandemic. The market fundamentals of LAB stabilised significantly as a result of reduced panic purchase and hoarding of the product. Manufacturers witnessed a drop in profit margins due to rising product inventories and lack of a significant reduction in operating rates.
Procurement Resource provides latest prices of Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate (LAS). Each price database is tied to a user-friendly graphing tool dating back to 2014, which provides a range of functionalities: configuration of price series over user defined time period; comparison of product movements across countries; customisation of price currencies and unit; extraction of price data as excel files to be used offline.
Procurement Resource provides prices of LAS for several regions around the globe, which are as follows:
Linear Alkylbenzene Sulphonate (LAS), is an anionic surfactant. In 1964, it was introduced as a biodegradable alternative to highly branched alkylbenzene sulphonates (ABS). LAS is a combination of isomers and homologues with an aromatic ring sulphonated at the para position and coupled to a linear alkyl chain, all of which are closely related.
Industrial production LAB includes the sulfonation of linear alkylbenzene (LAB) using sulfonating agents such as oleum and sulfuric acid.
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The displayed pricing data is derived through weighted average purchase price, including contract and spot transactions at the specified locations unless otherwise stated. The information provided comes from the compilation and processing of commercial data officially reported for each nation (i.e. government agencies, external trade bodies, and industry publications).
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