US Phenol & Acetone Rates Resolutely High, Robust Demand and Polar-Storm-Hit Upstream Run Rates Conjure the Tightness

US Phenol & Acetone Rates Resolutely High, Robust Demand and Polar-Storm-Hit Upstream Run Rates Conjure the Tightness

  • 17-May-2021
  • Journalist: Robert Hume

Acetone and phenol market started the year with a rare shortage in supply where Acetone supply was the worst hit. Market dynamics were further exacerbated by the mid-February polar storm which constricted the supply while plummeting the upstream operating rates of Propylene and Benzene. Demand remained robust throughout the first quarter and it stays healthy into Q2.

At the conclusion of the 2nd week of May 2021, the price of US Acetone was last assessed at USD 2490 per MT FOB Texas whereas Phenol prices rose to USD 1685 per MT FOB Texas during the same week.

Market for both US Phenol and Acetone was disrupted by inadequate feedstock availability of Benzene and Propylene which first impacted the Cumene production and later snowballed into affecting the operating levels of Phenol and Acetone. Although, the supply fundamentals are expected to improve towards the end of Q2 and early Q3, further increase of 3-5 cents/lb (USD 66-110 per MT) can be expected in the next month for Acetone.

There are certain scheduled turnarounds expected from the side of producers which will be taking place for Acetone and Phenol in Q2 and Q3, however confirmations for the turnarounds are yet to be announced. In addition, some downstream players are also eyeing on the arrival of Asian Acetone supplies to fill in the domestic gaps.

The outlook for Q2 and Q3 in terms of Phenol and Acetone demand is anticipated to be strong on the back of robust demand from downstream Epoxy Resin, Phenolic Resins and Polycarbonate production. Slowness in demand from the automotive sector has been witnessed due to shortage in semiconductors however construction would be peaking in the coming months specifically residential housing market which will keep the demand for Acetone and Phenol in the healthy quadrant.

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