Asian benzene prices plunge

Asian benzene prices shed US$11.50/mt on Friday as market sentiment turned bearish over weaker crude futures, as per Platts. FOB Korea benchmark for Asian benzene was assessed at US$1226/mt. Japan’s largest refiner, JX Nippon Oil & Energy, settled May Asia contract price for benzene at US$1215/mt CFR, up US$65/mt (almost 6%) from its April settlement of US$1150/mt. In South Korea, Yeochun Naphtha Cracking Center plans to restart its No. 1 aromatics unit at Yeosu on May 1 after a month of scheduled maintenance with design capacity of 200,000 tpa of benzene. About 50,000-60,000 mt of benzene was shipped from South Korea to either the USG or Europe in April. A market participant said a Formosa Plastics Marine Corp. vessel was at Yeosu late last week to load about 15,000 mt of benzene to the USG while another vessel, the Formosa 20, is expected to arrive in the USG early May with 20,000 mt. US benzene price was assessed at US$1267.76/mt FOB USG on Thursday, nearly US$42 above the Asian price. The European price climbed to US$1322/mt CIF ARA on Thursday.
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