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European IPA maintains record high as industry bolsters sanitizer output

London — Isopropyl alcohol prices remained at record highs in Europe, and jumped further in the US on Tuesday, as demand for sanitation products containing IPA remains strong as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The European spot market is constantly becoming tighter, with producers such as INEOS and SEQENS prioritizing supply of hand gels containing IPA to hospitals and health services, while traders were focused on contractual commitments. "IPA is a fragmented market; very complicated to feed even the main customers," a trader said

The price for the spot IPA truck business was assessed flat on the week at Eur3,600/mt on Tuesday, still the highest since early 1994, when the Platts IPA FD NWE assessment was launched, S&P Global Platts data showed.

In the US, IPA was assessed $895/mt higher at $3,100/mt FOB USG and $3,160/mt DER, based on indications heard in the market. An offer was heard as high as $4,900/mt, with US IPA increasing about one-third on the day based on that reported level.

As European IPA demand from the health sector intensifies, France's SEQENS has issued a declaration of force majeure on IPA and IPA feedstock acetone, joining INEOS in supplying IPA to hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry.

Ineos last announced plans to build hand sanitizer plants in Germany and the UK, utilizing its production of IPA from Moers, Germany.

SEQENS declared force majeure on acetone supplies from its 105,000 mt/year Rousillon facility in France on Friday, after being forced to utilize all of its acetone volumes for the production of IPA, a company source told S&P Global Platts Tuesday.

SEQENS issued a force majeure declaration on its 70,000-85,000 mt/year of IPA supplies in France a week ago, after the French government said IPA could only be sold to health industry businesses for hand sanitizer production, the source said.

"We have to ensure the health and safety of our employees to start with, but also SEQENS is the only producer of IPA in France," the source said.

The company cannot participate in the spot market at the moment following the force majeure declaration, the source said.