Phenol is a white crystalline solid which is volatile in nature. Most important application of Phenol is to produce bisphenol-A (BPA) which is a precursor for making one the most widely used engineering plastic, polycarbonate. Almost half of the global phenol is consumed for the production of BPA and the market is impacted by the sentiments observed in the polycarboante industry from time to time. There is a global shift of phenol production since past decade where China has drastically increased its petrochemical production in order to minimize its dependency on other countries. BPA accounts for the biggest market for Phenol followed by phenolic resins. Other applications include nylons, alkylphenols, phenylene oxide and others. Globally, the phenol demand has improved owing to improvement in the general economic condition and increase in the construction and housing sector.
According to Prismane Consulting s phenol market model, most of the capacities are situated in North America, Western Europe and East Asia. Ineos is the largest producer of phenol with facilities in Europe, Asia and rest of the world. The regional demand for phenol consumption has shifted from being fairly balanced in 2005 among major region to being skewed towards Asia-Pacific in 2017. Similar trend has been observed in the import export scenario where Asia-Pacific largely on account of China is becoming a leader in trade. The small facilities and companies in China extract phenol from coal tar.
More than 75% of the total Phenol demand in Asia-Pacific is from BPA and Phenolic resins. This shift of balance in trade has forced North American phenol producers to rationalize the capacity in order to maintain a competitive price in the market and to avoid the losses.