HOUSTON (ICIS)–US spot benzene prices moved slightly lower on Friday compared with last week, as declines in upstream crude oil futures kept the US benzene market largely quiet.
Few benzene deals were heard this week as upstream crude oil values dropped sharply on Monday and crude settlements continued slight declines through most of the week. Benzene values tracked the upstream declines, but did not entirely reverse last week's 14-15 cents/gal gain.
Last week, US benzene firmed on upstream price movements and on stronger demand from US styrene exports. Styrene production is the main consumer of US benzene, and the US is a net exporter of styrene. US styrene spot prices continued to firm this week, offering some support for US benzene values.
Stronger styrene demand may help balance out high levels of benzene inventories and recent high levels of imports.
US spot benzene was assessed at $2.11-2.18/gal FOB (free on board), compared with $2.15-2.20/gal FOB a week ago.
Major US benzene producers include ExxonMobil, Flint Hills Resources, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, Shell and Phillips 66.