Styrene Prices Q1 2022
Prices shot up in China in March 2022 with the rise in crude oil prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war. Styrene futures market rose to 9977 RMB/MT while the Jiangsu spot prices rose to 9795 RMB/MT. The maintenance units were back in use and ready to be restarted along with several new units to be put on operation. Even though demand for styrene from downstream construction industry was weak, prices rose significantly with the rise in crude oil prices.
Styrene spot prices rose consistently in the beginning of March due to disruptions in supply chain and bullish upstream markets while limited imports kept the prices high in Germany. The CFR Hamburg prices in the first week of March were around 1650 USD/MT. While the supply situation seemed to recover, the Ukraine-Russia war impacted the crude oil prices thereby affecting the prices of ethylene, benzene and styrene which continued to increase as the market supplies grew tight.
The price in the North American market showed strong pace in the first quarter of 2022, rising from 1406 USD/MT FOB Texas in January to 1650 USD/MT FOB Texas by the conclusion of the quarter. As a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine, escalating prices in the US market were accompanied by increasing crude oil prices. The cost of manufacturing for major producers increased, affecting market sentiments for the monomer. The demand prognosis for downstream packaging, automotive, and rubber industries remained positive, and as a result, styrene prices increased in Q1 2022.
Styrene Prices (Q4 2021)
The prices remained flat in Q4 compared to Q2 and Q3. Additional domestic production and sluggish demand in the import market were viewed as putting pressure on India's and China's key styrene industries. Because of the plentiful supply, feedstock benzene prices were dropped, and market trade activity slowed. India's solid demand for automobiles and household appliances persisted, and the downstream market remained stable, with customers purchasing products on a need-to basis and anticipating additional price reductions. Prices were 1269 USD/MT Ex-Vadodara in the last week of December, while prices in China were 1340 USD/MT FOB Qingdao. Due to the strong supply possibilities, a delay in planned maintenance of Zhejiang Petroleum & Chemical Styrene facility, as well as the restart of another styrene unit with 600 KTPA capacity, has put a strain on regional market fundamentals.
Stockpiling of styrene inventory and oversupplies lowered the prices in Europe in the fourth quarter. In Germany, sentiment appeared to be skewed due to weak demand. Expansive production edges had been viewed as an additional cost of styrene production up to this point, owing to crucial production interruptions in the fourth quarter that left the stockpiles vulnerable. As a result of the lower demand, benzene inventories have been steadily increasing. Furthermore, the high freight cost had reduced arbitrage opportunities, leaving the European market with a glut of material and few outlets. In Q4 2021, supplies will be depleted, resulting in a steeply backward pricing curve. According to reports, the margin for styrene over benzene in the downstream market was broader in November, with the gap exceeding 500 USD/MT for the month, although a spread of 250 USD/MT normally signified a well-balanced market.
Due to good demand and strong downstream sectors, prices in North America remined on the higher end when compared to Q2 and Q3. In October, US exports to the world declined by more than 9% due to rising freight charges on key US trade routes and a drop in demand from key export destinations, according to a monthly analysis of the market. Exports fell to 121,854 MT in October, according to data from the International Trade Centre (ITC). However, in lieu of growing trading and domestic use, some countries imported bigger volumes of US styrene. In October, Mexico upped its imports of US styrene to 80,595 MT. Meanwhile, prices were relatively consistent in H2 of Q4, and according to evaluations from the second week of December, US pricing increased by 3% on a FOB basis, indicating early symptoms of a market change.
Styrene Prices (Q1-Q3 2021)
Supplies in the APAC area exhibited mixed results in the first quarter, as numerous plants' turnarounds came to a conclusion and producers worked at optimum efficiency. Several manufacturing facilities in Japan, however, were forced to shut down their operations due to power disruptions induced by the earthquake in early February. Meanwhile, demand soared in the region as demand for ABS increased, and the downstream packaging industry thrived. Prices in India surged during the quarter, maintaining an average of 1084.5 USD/MT CFR JNPT due to increased demand from downstream sectors such as ABS and Polystyrene.
The supply improved in the second quarter of 2021, thanks to LyondellBasell's establishment of a new SM/PO facility in China, as well as the release of force majeure at numerous styrene manufacturing sites in the APAC area. However, despite the impact of India's second COVID wave, which curtailed industrial and commercial activities owing to a partial lockdown, buying in the Southeast Asian region remained modest. In China, demand increased due to an influx of inquiries from downstream Polystyrene and ABS manufacturers and was claimed to have reached pre-pandemic levels in Q2. However, growing inflation and the enforcement of consumption taxes on imported heavy aromatics commodities made dealers wary, and they were hesitant to purchase high-cost raw materials. Throughout the quarter, the pricing trend remained consistent, with FOB Shanghai prices closing at 2015 USD/MT in June.
Dull buying sentiments in Asia drove down the prices in Q3. The polymer’s market prospects remained dim as a result of port restrictions in various nations, which restricted normal trading activity in the aftermath of the development of delta variant cases in the region. As a result of the vendors' battle to get the material, prices increased. Several Asian facilities experienced a temporary maintenance shutdown, putting additional strain on supply fundamentals. As a result, the market trend in India shifted upward, with prices rising from 1183 USD/MT to 1418 USD/MT Q3 2021. Even among Chinese players, the constant increase in demand from China amid crippled supply activities continued to drive up the prices.
During the first quarter of 2021, supplies were scarce as a key styrene-producing factory remained closed in early February, followed by poor industrial and commercial activity amid fears of a second COVID-19 pandemic wave. High demand, on the other hand, led in a massive increase in the prices, despite the supply. As traders reported depleted pre-stocked inventories and delayed imports, the quarterly pattern is expected to continue.
At the start of the second quarter, run rates for the monomer increased at various manufacturing units. The supply forecast in the European region improved over the previous quarter, thanks to stronger run rates reported by numerous SM producers, while demand was reinforced by increased inquiries from downstream building and construction units amid the economic recovery. Offtakes were stable from the ABS and Polystyrene manufacturing operations, which ramped up production to meet increased end-use demand and Middle Eastern exports.
Benzene pricing trend measured optimistic attitudes in European countries during Q3. The strong price of benzene, feedstock, resulted in a price increase for practically all styrenics. The downstream building and construction sectors increased their demand for the monomer in September. Throughout the quarter, offtakes from the ABS and Polystyrene production plants were steady. In September, the price in Germany was set at 1340 USD/MT.
Supplies in the North American region were tight in Q1 2021, as several factories were undergoing maintenance turnarounds throughout the first half of the year. Then, in mid-February, production was disrupted owing to freezing weather in the US Gulf region, which resulted in massive plant outages. However, demand was on the rise as downstream consumption improved, resulting in a sharp increase in regional prices from 1300 USD/MT in January to 1900 USD/MT on a CFR basis in March 2021.
Supplies improved in Q2 as the US Gulf region's industrial infrastructure recovered and heavy aromatic crackers functioned at higher rates. Due to strong domestic demand for Styrenics such as ABS and Polystyrene, Styrolution and LyondellBasell withdrew the force majeures. Adding to the tightness seen in Q1 as a result of storm-related interruptions, procuring spot material in the US market appeared to be much more difficult. Large margins were noted among buyers from downstream Polystyrene (PS) production units. With FOB Texas discussion valued at 1360 USD/MT in June, the pricing pattern showed a progressive easing equal to market supplies.
The market underwent instability in the third quarter of 2021. As Hurricane Ida made landfall on the Gulf Coast of the United States, the AmSty manufacturing facility at Saint James, Louisiana, with a production capacity of 950 KTPA, was shut down preemptively, affecting the pricing of the monomer in the region. Despite the fact that the impact was substantially smaller than that of winter storm Uri, supply remained poor owing to supply chain interruptions caused by hurricane Ida, which aggravated logistical issues in the United States. During the last week of September, the price was 1310 USD/MT.
Styrene Prices Overview 2020
Ample inventories of styrene in China, along with unfavourable offtakes, casted a pall over the Southeast Asian market's fundamentals. Several firms, including SP Chemical and Abel Chemical, performed a fast turnaround in their production units to balance the narrowed demand and supply gap. Although regional fundamentals improved, inventory levels in China did not shift significantly, as numerous firms continued to operate at levels above 80% of market competency. In August, the prices remained range bound between 650-680 USD/MT CFR China, in line with the bleak market picture. By the conclusion of the quarter, demand for polystyrene and ABS had returned to normal, leaving just standalone styrene makers in the red. In addition, demand fundamentals in Northeast Asia improved as a result of improved downstream consumption and longer import delays from abroad.
Since the end of August, several manufacturing and downstream industries completed scheduled turnarounds, which helped to restore demand supply fundamentals in the European region. Producers were heard operating at lower rates in order to avoid losses caused by market volatility. In September, demand for downstream derivatives such as ABS and SAN increased significantly, owing to an increase in demand for automobiles, electronics, consumer appliances, and furniture. However, owing to Covid-19, demand from the construction industry remained cloaked in containment measures, with the UK and Russia leading the way with double-digit declines.
Despite many maintenance turnarounds and forced outages due to fears of a series of seasonal hurricanes, the supply in North America was found to be adequate. Styrolution, a major player in the United States, announced the closure of two of its styrene plants in Texas and Bayport. Furthermore, in the second half of the third quarter, turnarounds at derivative Polystyrene and SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber) factories weighed on demand fundamentals. Despite this, a modest increase in the demand from the automotive sector provided a ray of optimism for the industry's overall demand fundamentals. By the conclusion of the third quarter, the supply overhang had been resolved by a revival of demand from Asian countries such as Taiwan and South Korea.
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Procurement Resource provides prices of Styrene for several regions around the globe, which are as follows:
Styrene is an organic compound derived from benzene. In appearance, it is a colourless oily liquid that evaporates quickly while leaving behind a sweet smell. Styrene is often composed of other chemicals that give it a sharp, unpleasant smell. It dissolves in some liquids but doesn't dissolve easily in water. It tends to polymerise readily at temperatures of more than 90°C. Styrene monomer finds wide applications in both the plastics and the synthetic rubber industries.
Chemical Formula of Styrene:
Styrene is produced predominately from ethylbenzene. In this process, ethylbenzene is dehydrogenated using superheated steam (up to 600°C) in the presence of an iron (III) oxide catalyst. Typical catalysts are based on ferric oxide with the additives chromia (Cr2O3) (stabiliser) and potassium oxide (coke retardant).
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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).