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Asia methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) market sentiment bullish; spot cargoes limited
Oct 07, 2018

Asia’s methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) market sentiment is bullish on expectations of improved demand amid limited availability of spot cargoes in the near term.

-Tight supply in some parts of southeast Asia

-Demand likely to pick up in Q4 across all regions

-Some importers looking to stock up on inventories fearing shor supply

Offers in the week ended 28 September were limited, most of which came from Chinese traders as major suppliers were sold out for October.

Over a two-month period, spot prices in northeast and southeast Asia have increased by 12.4% and 9.3%, respectively, the data showed.

In India, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) prices increased at a comparatively modest rate of 3.1% over the same period because of the monson and influx of cargoes from Europe.

India's long supply of the material during the onsoon season eased as demand gradually picked at the end of September, ahead of Hindu Holidays in the fourth quarter.

Importers in the country, however, were not in a rush to buy as they have sufficient methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) inventories and have to offload previously procured material.

Supply was tight in some parts of southest Asia, with some suppliers holding on to their low inventories, reluctant to sell to downstream manufacturers.

"Demand is normal in Vietnam, but suppliers are very unwilling to sell on very tight supply: said a trader.

Demand-wise, southeast Asia has yet to see a pick-up. However, with buyers sitting on almost non-existent inventories, suppliers were expecting a flurry of restocking to occur soon.

In accordance with the blue-sky policy in China, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)  plants would have to reduce their operating rates; and some smaller plants would even shut during the winter period because of the regulation on coal emissions. Coal is one of the raw amterials in producing methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) .

Among Chinese methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) producers, CNOOC Zhongjie has shut its plant for a turnaround, while PetroChina Fushun is planning to shut its unit for catalyst change in end-October.

In Japan, supply of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)  is also limited, with Maruzen Petrochemical running its plant as low rates due to feedstock issues, and Idemitsu Kosan's unit currently shut for a scheduled maintenance.

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