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Insight | Time:Apr 18 2018 11:03AM
China's benzene port inventory up to nearly three-year high
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Benzene inventory in East China ports stood at 202.9kt on April 18, nearly the highest level in three years. The last high appeared in May 13 of 2015 at 205.5kt. Port inventory kept increasing since late January 2018.

*CCFGroup publish benzene inventory in East China ports (mainly in Taizhou, Changzhou, Jiangyin) every Wednesday. The figure reflects the inventory level held by traders.

China domestic benzene prices were pressured by high inventory level and slow demand from downstream derivatives for several months. Last week, the rise in coal-based benzene prices in northern China lent some support to crude-based benzene prices. Local refineries quoted up on rising feedstock benzole prices and narrowing profits. However, the upward room and the support to East China was still limited.

Chambroad Petrochemical has got on-spec products at its Phase II aromatics plant. Benzene capacity of this plant is 140kt/year. The company planned to sell products into the market soon, which could exert some pressure in Shandong.

In downstream, several large plants shut down units for turnarounds. Dagu Chemical's 500kta, ZRCC Lyondell's 620kta units were under planned turnarounds since mid-April. Changzhou Donghao shut its 200kta unit on mid-Apr maintenance for about half a month. The average operation rate for CPL plants fell to 61% till last Friday. Fujian Shenyuan shut two CPL units mid last week as the hydrogen device was under maintenance.

The recent rise in crude oil lent some support to market sentiment, while the upward room was still weighed by weak fundamentals. The market is likely to keep rangebound in short term.

Market participants were bullish on expectations moving forward, as demand would improve in June after downstream styrene monomer plants resume operations after turnarounds.
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