By Joyce Grigorey, Tecnon Orbichem
The tightness in the global isocyanates markets has continued unabated for much of the year so far, and there seems little relief on the horizon, at least not until the end of the year.
Both the MDI and TDI markets have been plagued by a series of planned and unplanned outages, as well as production disruptions, which have significantly tightened the global landscape and resulted in significant price increases globally.
Certainly, what has caught most market players off-guard is the length and severity of the supply tightness. Prices have remained high enough for long enough that some downstream consumers are considering alternative technologies and product substitution, away from polyurethanes, to meet their end needs. The growing concern across the industry now is that when supply does eventually return to normal levels, will demand return along with it?
The MDI market has suffered from a string of unplanned outages, in addition to scheduled downtime, which has resulted in tight supply globally.
Earlier in the year, BASF and Covestro experienced production problems at their MDI units in China. The units are currently up and running, but BASF was said to have had another production issue at the end of June.
In Europe, Covestro declared force majeure on production out of its plant in Brunsbuttel, Germany in April, while in May, Huntsman experienced technical issues when restarting its units in…