Chemical Profile: 2-EH
The oxo-alcohol 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) is used primarily in the production of plasticizers used in the construction, automotive and appliance industries. Plasticizers made from 2-EH include di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and di-ethylhexyl adipate (DEHA). It is also used to make dioctyl phthalate (DOP), dioctylterephthalate (DOTP), trioctyl trimellitate (TOTM) and dioctyl adipate (DOA), which are plasticizers mostly used in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for the construction industry.
Another, less predominant use is in the manufacture of acrylates and methacrylate esters, which go into coatings and adhesives. The acrylic polymer 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (2- EHA), for example, is an acrylic polymer used in pressure-sensitive adhesives. 2-EH is also used as a fuel additive as a part of 2-ethylhexyl nitrate in diesel fuel. It may also be used as a solvent or in the production of surfactants.
Diminished seasonal demand for 2-EH is keeping supply balanced to longer even as sellers are eager to destock in order to reduce year-end taxes on inventory.
While supply constraints on some European oxo-alcohols were lifted from BASF in Ludwigshafen, Germany, Oxea recently declared force majeure on its oxo-alcohols after a disruption of raw material supply to its productionsite in Oberhausen, Germany.
Coming at the end of 2018, the outages have yet to affect US supply or demand, but prolonged constraints there could stress US demand for higher domestic volumes in the first half of 2019, as the US paint blending and sales seasons peak.
In the meantime, a producer said the export oxo-alcohols markets had weakened in the fourth quarter of 2018.
In Asia, oxo-alcohols spot prices are generally on a downtrend on a weakening Chinese domestic market and falling feedstock values.
December 2-EH and other oxo-alcohols prices are facing downward pressure on a sharply weaker propylene price in November, on top of seasonally weakening demand.
Already, the spot 2-EH export range had dropped in November on pressure from softening propylene, and it is expected to drop further in December. Seasonal demand weakness and suppliers’ desire to reduce year-end inventories will also contribute to downward price pressure in both the spot and contract markets.
Margins between 2-EH and propylene are expected to remain stable in the near term if supply is consistent and if 2-EH tracks propylene price movements as usual.
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