US Q4 acetic acid hikes seem likely - buyers

20 September 2007 23:45  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Proposed fourth-quarter 3-4 cent/lb ($66-88/tonne) price increases in the US acetic acid market will likely be implemented, as least partially, amid continued tightness, buyers said on Thursday.

Although some consumers were still targeting a rollover for fourth-quarter business, others expected to see increases implemented at 1.5-3.0 cents/lb.

September export prices for acetic acid were assessed at $850-890/tonne FOB (free on board) USG (US Gulf), according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

Improved supply fundamentals in North America would favour a price drop at the start of 2008, sources said.

Market watchers said that significant volumes of exports to Asia would be repatriated in 2008 as new projects in China helped tilt that region’s acetyls markets toward greater self-sufficiency.

Also, US producers were expected to make modest capacity additions during turnarounds scheduled for the fourth quarter.

Customers said Celanese appears to have mostly recovered from the extended outage of its 1.2m tonne/year Clear Lake, Texas, acetic acid plant, although the resulting force majeure declaration has not yet been lifted.

The Clear Lake outage extended from the first half of May through the second half of July. Market sources said the unscheduled downtime would allow Celanese to cancel a scheduled maintenance turnaround.

Lyondell’s acetic acid plant in LaPorte, Texas, had experienced temporary outages related to Tropical Storm Erin, which also prompted a force majeure declaration.

Lyondell and Eastman’s acetic acid units were expected to enter turnarounds in October.

US acetic acid producers include Celanese, Sterling Chemical (marketed by BP), Eastman and Lyondell.

By: David Barry
+1 713 525 2653

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