Scramble continues for carbon black supplies

Tire and rubber-product manufacturers extend their search to India and China.

London - European rubber processors have been urgently seeking alternative suppliers of carbon black since the onset of Russia’s military attack on Ukraine.

However, manufacturers, who have been dependent on supplies from Russia, Belarus, and/or Ukraine are finding that there is insufficient European-based capacity to meet requirements.

“Tire makers have turned to India and the market is now sold out,” one well-placed market watcher said of the current carbon black supply situation.

“China remains [another option], but prices are double that of ‘Russian’ carbon black mainly driven by transport costs,” he reported.

As reported in ERJ March/April issue, market expert Martin von Wolfersdorff of Wolfersdorff Consulting said carbon black pricing was already firming up in March.

And, with about 30% of European carbon black coming from Russia, Belarus, or Ukraine, he predicted significant disruptions to supply.

“The European carbon black market is tight, and some carbon black customers might already be on allocation by their suppliers,” von Wolfersdorff reported on 23 March.

According to the market analyst, some volumes are being replaced with carbon blacks from India, China, and Saudi Arabia.

And, he noted, Chinese carbon black spot prices CIF European port are being quoted at around €2.272/t – over €800/t above April 2022 contract prices.

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