Fluctuating prices for n-butanes have been a key part of the global maleic anhydride market in the last few months.
The feedstock advantage the US had was reversed in late 2016 and by June, there was no difference between European mixed-butanes prices and the n-butane price in the US. The Saudi Aramco price was the highest at this time. Prices for butanes in the US and Europe were at around $300/ton while the Saudi price was $390/ton. This was a change from earlier periods when the US price was hugely advantaged but in the shorter term, it was also a relief for US maleic producers as n-butane went down from around $1.25/gal in February 2017 to around $0.70/gal in June. Some producers were reluctant to lower prices as butane fell as they say they did not recuperate the full cost of increases when butane prices were rising earlier this year. Maleic prices fell about 2c/lb in May/June, after a rise of 6-8c/lb based on higher feedstock costs earlier in the year.
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