HOUSTON (ICIS)–US May benzene contracts settled 6 cents/gal ($18/tonne) lower from April, putting prices at $2.93/gal free on board (FOB) US Gulf, as global supply lengthened, ICIS confirmed on Tuesday.
The May settlement was the fifth consecutive month of decreases since contracts hit a 2017 high in December.
The $2.93/gal settlement was in line with expectations from market players towards the end of last week.
Spot benzene prices trended lower throughout most of the month, as lengthening supply in Asia and some downstream styrene turnarounds depressed prices, even while crude oil prices firmed and spot toluene prices, the feedstock for on-purpose benzene units, firmed on stronger gasoline markets.
On-purpose benzene economics are currently unfavourable for toluene disproportionation (TDP) units, while stronger values for paraxylene (PX) have kept economics for selective toluene disproportionation (STDP) units relatively healthy.
US benzene contracts usually settle on the last working day of the prior month and are heavily influenced by movements in spot prices.
Major US benzene producers include ExxonMobil, Flint Hills Resources, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, Shell and Phillips 66.