About Toluene: Toluene is an aromatic hydrocarbon. In appearance, it is a colourless, water-insoluble liquid with the smell associated with paint thinners. It is a mono-substituted benzene derivative composed of a CH3 group attached to a phenyl group.
Get the latest insights on price movement and trend analysis of Toluene in different regions across the world (Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa).
During the second quarter of 2022, the Asia Pacific region experienced contradictory market attitudes for toluene. Toluene prices decreased in China in April as a result of a large supply and weak demand from the construction and downstream cosmetics industries. Moreover, the ongoing Covid ban in some Chinese cities had an effect on toluene market sentiment. However, as downstream output has increased following the May Day holidays, toluene prices have risen since the middle of the quarter. The increase in toluene demand to create the downstream product benzene impacted the toluene market. The increase in transportation costs brought on by the rise in fuel prices resulted in an increase in the market for toluene as well.
Due to the price of raw materials, toluene prices in the North American region is constantly changing, initially rising and then declining in the second quarter of 2022. Morever, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine disrupted the market for toluene by driving upstream crude prices and feedstock benzene.Russian invasion caused a rerouting of shipments that exacerbated the trend in toluene prices. The market for the chemical was also impacted by rising fuel prices and freight costs. In addition, prices have increased as a result of US sanctions against Russian gas due to the energy crisis. Therefore, in June 2022, per ton price of toluene in the USA was set at 1225 USD.
The second quarter of 2022 saw an increase in toluene prices on the European market, driven by a rise in local demand. The scarcity of upstream crude supply also contributed to the price hike. Additionally, the need for sanctions against Russia's oil embargo and the escalation in energy prices brought on by geopolitical upheaval have boosted the price of toluene. Due to high domestic demand and rising output, the toluene market has grown even more. A further factor in the rise in toluene pricing is its increased demand to make its derivative toluene diisocyanate.
In the first quarter of 2022, toluene prices in Asia Pacific started to rise. As a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, upstream crude prices have risen, causing a price increase in the toluene market. Furthermore, the regional market's toluene price trajectory was influenced by the disruption of commerce and port congestion caused by the return of COVID in China. In addition, the increase in demand for downstream paint, ink, and adhesives has caused the price of toluene to skyrocket. Furthermore, higher freight costs have boosted the region's Toluene market. Thus, by the quarter ending March 2022, CFR toluene prices in India had stabilised at 815 USD/MT.
Toluene prices increased in the first quarter of 2022 as a result of an increase in demand from the regional market. The price increase was prompted by increasing demand for ink, paints, and adhesives. Furthermore, upstream crude was influenced by geopolitical tensions, which had a negative impact on petroleum feedstocks, causing rail and road traffic bottlenecks across the Black Sea. Furthermore, the continuation of Europe's energy crisis, which began when Russian gas was suspended following their invasion of Ukraine, resulted in a considerable price hike. As a result, in March 2022, the FOB price of toluene in Germany was estimated to be 1150 USD/MT.
Toluene prices soared in the first quarter of 2022, owing to increased demand from downstream industries such as paints, adhesives, and glues. Furthermore, the interruption created by the Russia-Ukraine conflict contributed in an increase in upstream Crude and feedstock Benzene prices, which impacted the Toluene market. Furthermore, after the Russian invasion, shipments were rerouted, delaying supplies and hurting the Toluene price trend. The Toluene market was also impacted by rising fuel prices and freight costs. Furthermore, once the United States imposed sanctions on Russian gas, the energy issue has pushed up costs. In March 2022, the cost of toluene in the United States was 1225 USD/MT.
In Asia, the price of toluene varied across the countries in the last quarter of 2021. In China, the price fluctuated throughout the quarter due to changing prices of benzene and also due to variations in demand. In Shanghai, toluene prices rose from 993 USD/MT to 1022 USD/MT from October to November and finally dropped to 915 USD/MT in December 2021. In India, a similar trend was witnessed as prices dropped by 115 USD/MT from October to December 2021. This fall in price was due to ample supplies of toluene as well as benzene.
In the final quarter of 2021 in Europe, the market witnessed an increase in toluene prices due to the limited supply from the manufacturers. Imports were restricted and reduced from Asia due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also led to a shortage of supply among local producers. Production levels were also low due to an upsurge in natural gas prices. In Hamburg, toluene prices increased by 75 USD/MT from October 2021 to December 2021, reaching 910 USD/MT.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, toluene prices witnessed a downward trajectory backed by the ample supply of the product as the major producers such as Dow and ExxonMobil resumed their toluene production in September. The demand outlook mostly remained stable throughout the quarter. A dip in crude oil prices led to an increase in the benzene price; this, coupled with narrow demand, affected toloune prices in the region. Consumers were not willing to stock large amounts of toluene, which was yet another reason for its price fall. In December 2021, the price in the US was 853 USD/MT.
For First, Second and Third Quarters of 2021
In India, a consistent and gradual rise in toluene prices was noted as industries started to recover from the pandemic. As transportation restrictions were lifted by the state governments, the demand increased along with the rising levels of petrochemical consumption. A significant price hike was witnessed as the Chinese government imposed taxes on the commodities that were imported, which included aromatics.
This in turn affected the pricing trends of the chemical in China’s domestic market by the end of quarter 2. In Shanghai, toluene prices were reported to be around 740 USD/MT in June. Demand dynamics were surging in Asia as demand continued to increase owing to rising consumption levels in the coating and paint industries as building construction increased. Prices rose with the increasing demand in the third quarter of 2021. Industries increased their operating costs for plant operations, which led to an upward trend in the domestic demand. By the end of quarter 3, toluene prices were as high as 824 USD/MT. However, it was not as high as expected due to the swinging crude oil market.
Toluene supplies were controlled in the first quarter of 2021 in Europe following a decline in consumption levels due to the pandemic-induced lockdowns that affected mobility, transportation, and the economy, which led to low toluene demand. The price in quarter 1 of 2021 in Germany was 598 USD/MT. The supply was tight in the European region owing to the delay in resuming operations at the BASF Ludwigshafen plant.
Imports from the US increased the product supply volume as demand continued to increase owing to rising consumption levels in the coating and paint industries as building construction increased. On the back of a spike in demand throughout the region, the pricing trend observed a marginal uptrend. The price in quarter 2 of 2021 in Germany was 746 USD/MT.
The overall market for the chemical witnessed a mixture of sentiments during the third quarter of 2021 in Europe. In September, toluene prices fell as the crude oil market dipped. Demand remained sluggish, and trading was lower in early September, influencing the prices in the quarter. In quarter 3 of 2021, Germany witnessed a downward trend in its price as it reduced from 805 USD/MT to 755 USD/MT in quarter 3.
During quarter one of 2021, the supply was limited as plant operations ceased owing to maintenance requirements. Production lines were affected in the US due to adverse weather conditions and harsh cold. Prices thus increased in the domestic market. The soaring prices of locally produced toluene made conditions difficult for domestic buyers, and they shifted to foreign exports from Asia. Prices were around 910 USD/MT in quarter 1. A noticeable improvement in its supplies as compared to the previous quarter was noted, as the production rates picked up following the aftermath of the Uri storm, which motivated the petrochemical industries to replenish their supply gap.
Demand for the chemical increased in the market, owing to rising consumption levels in the coating and painting industries as building construction increased. As hurricanes were predicted in the US, several spot buyers rushed to increase their toluene stock supplies. By the end of the second quarter, prices had stabilised at $845 USD/MT. In the third quarter of 2021, prices were mostly stable in North America as leading manufacturers of toluene, such as Dow and ExxonMobil, resumed their production of toluene and therefore increased their supply in the market during the third quarter of 2021.
This was followed by a plateau in demand due to unanticipated lockdowns, and thus prices remained mostly stable. As demand from downstream markets was still in the recovery stage, prices were range-bound. The market price increased to 990 USD/MT in the third quarter.
For the Year 2020
Toluene markets in Asia were severely affected in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic as markets failed to recover from its decreasing demand. In China, supplies soared as local traders tried to increase their sales via export channels, which therefore increased the influx of the chemical in Southeast Asia. Further falls in prices were supported by erratic changes in natural gas prices and unstable demand dynamics. The average price was approximately 637 USD/MT.
As consumption of the chemical dropped in Europe, its market dwindled. Producers were affected by the downward trajectory of its prices and tried to reduce their operating costs. Several turnarounds in downstream plants also affected the demand for toluene. In Germany, prices dropped from 565 USD/MT in quarter 1 to 357 USD/MT in quarter 2 due to the pandemic. However, they rose to 425 USD/MT in the third quarter and remained stable for the rest of the year.
Markets in the US were affected by the high supplies in Asia as well as weather storms and hurricanes that redirected the imports. As transportation increased gradually following the pandemic, the demand also increased. Producers reduced their operating costs, and suppliers relied on export demand. Prices in the US fell from 1000 USD/MT in the first quarter to as low as 780 USD/MT in the final quarter of 2020.
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Chemical Formula of Toluene:
Reformates of crude petroleum distillates; liquid products from the pyrolysis of hydrocarbons (steam cracking) and other liquid products from the gasification or coking (pyrolysis) of coal, lignite, etc. are generally utilised while producing Toluene. Final separation of Toluene from these mixtures and purification is done by any of the distillation or solvent extraction methods utilised for BTX aromatics (benzene, toluene, and xylene isomers).
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