For the Quarter Ending June 2021
Supply conditions in the USA improved as operating efficiency at several manufacturing units including Eastman Chemicals and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. ramped up after the devastating impact from the winter storm Uri. However, some constraints were witnessed as few manufacturing plants in the US Gulf Coast region still struggled to operate at normal rates, and the offtakes from the pharmaceutical equipment were consistent to meet the demand of the mass vaccination drives in the US. Demand surged in the second quarter of 2021, due to the improved offtakes from the tire industry and export market outlook as the production levels regained pace.
During the second quarter of 2021, Halo Butyl Rubber supplies in the Asia Pacific region were balanced due to optimum inventory levels at various plants, and lower offtakes from the downstream tire industries. The market sentiments in the Northeast Asia and China were tending more towards the replacement of Natural Rubber than Synthetic Rubber due to the environmental concerns, whereas industrial activities were restricted in India as the region stood badly impacted by the second wave of COVID. As a ripple effect the pricing trend in India showed marginal movement with domestic Bromo-Butyl Rubber priced at USD 2815 per tonne in June.
The supply conditions in the European region improved compared to the previous quarter as the number of US shipments in the region surged with better operating efficiency. Some supply hinderances were witnessed at the starting of the quarter as congestion at Suez Canal delayed some shipments. Demand surged as the offtakes improved from the automotive industry. Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC in Russia got approval for the modernisation and re-equipment of Halo Butyl Rubber project that will be taking its total plant capacity to 200 KTPA. FOB Hamburg Halo Butyl Rubber offers settled at USD 1930 per tonne in April.
For the Quarter Ending March 2021
The supplies in the North American region were severely impacted by the freeze storm in the Texas and nearby Gulf region during mid-February. Due to the weather calamity, several major production plants including ExxonMobil, Dow, DuPont, and Good Year declared force majeure which led to the shortage in key feedstock and domestic Halo-butyl rubber in the first quarter of 2021. Demand kept a healthy stance as the offtakes from the pharmaceutical sector surged regarding end-use for vaccine vials stopper, whereas demand from the automotive sector narrowed due to reduced auto sales in the first quarter. The CFR Hamburg prices for Halo butyl Rubber averaged at USD 2450 per tonne in the quarter ending March.
During the first quarter of 2021, supplies in the Asia Pacific region were balanced, owing to the ample availability of upstream Tertiary Butyl Alcohol after the resumption in major plant activities in first half of the quarter. However, strong utilization of the natural rubber as an alternative dwindled the Halo-butyl Rubber market in the region leading to a decline of USD 84 per tonne CFR India price in February. Demand surged as the offtakes from the downstream sectors improved with initiation of COVID vaccine rollout throughout the Asia Pacific region
European market of Halo-Butyl Rubber showed mixed sentiments throughout the first quarter of 2021. Supplies were tight during the period due to the reduced shipment from the USA, followed by delay in arbitrage with the Asian suppliers due to the Suez Canal blockage. Plants in the northwestern hemisphere faced production disturbance owing to the shortage in supplies of raw material due to the transportation lag.
For the Quarter Ending December 2020
Despite a significant recovery observed over the previous quarter, the pandemic-induced slowdown continued to impact the consumption of Butyl Rubber in the Asian automotive sector. In the emerging economies of the Asian region, the demand of electric vehicles is expected to drive the tire industry, with a strong push anticipated in the chloro-butyl rubber sector by 2022. The fourth quarter proved to be significant one for the Indian market as Sibur-Reliance (JV) completed the construction of a Halo butyl facility in Jamnagar, India with the news that the first produced lot is anticipated to be supplied soon. Firming upstream Iso-butylene pushed up the offers for Butyl Rubber across Asia which maintained an average price of around USD 1500- 2030 USD per tonne on CFR basis.
The European automotive and electronic industry seemed deterred under suppressed sales amidst fears of fresh lockdowns imposed over certain European countries which may continue to cause great market disruptions if the transmission does not control. World’s largest Halo-Butyl Rubber producer, ExxonMobil announced full scale turnaround at its 110 KTPA Butyl Rubber facility in Fawley (UK) in prior during 2022. Rubber consumption remained impacted as Goodyear tires halted production of low volume tires in Luxembourg and redeploy the production from Colmar-Berg manufacturing facility to the company’s new site in Dudelange. Suppressed demand and limited sales maintained a somewhat downward pressure over the price curve during the quarter.
In the first half of Q4, major rubber producing players declared force majeures in the gulf region in response to the aftermath of Hurricane Laura. Shortfall of upstream supply of isobutylene impacted the manufacturing of Butyl Rubber in the region. Postimpact of hurricane made some facilities go offline resulting in lower Butyl Rubber output in October. Limited offtakes by several automotive and industrial applications kept the sentiments low across the region. The US Tire manufacturers association (UTSMA) estimated that the tire exports of US at the end of 2020 dropped to 298.3 million compared to 332.7 million in 2019, amidst trade related uncertainties due to COVID-19.