US ACN production down 20% year to date

07 November 2008 16:47  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US acrylonitrile (ACN) production companies produced 20% fewer tonnes of the chemical in the first three quarters of 2008 compared with the same period the year before, industry association data showed on Friday.

Producers Cytec, INEOS, Lanxess and Lucite produced 1.7bn lbs (771,115 tonnes) of ACN during the first three quarters of 2008, compared with 2.1bn lbs during the first nine months of 2007, according to data from the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association.

The drop was especially steep in the third quarter, when producers manufactured 4.3m lbs of ACN, down 40% from 7m lbs in the same period the year before.

The data put numbers to what many ACN market players have been feeling for months.

The market has been moribund since June, when ACN prices rode a rocket sparked by higher feedstock prices.

Demand destruction ensued, especially in the downstream acrylic fibre market, and exports fell by an annualised 20% during the first half of the year.

Producers cut their production rates in response, and a few were forced to shut down their plants in the wake of Hurricane Ike in September.

Global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing assessed US ACN prices at $1,780-1,900/tonne (€1,406-1,501/tonne) FOB (free on board) US Gulf on 31 October, down from $1,975-2,020/tonne FOB.

The assessment was notional, based on pricing ideas, as sales have been frozen since July.

At least one ACN producer said the industry successfully foresaw the slowdown and kept inventory balanced.

“ACN producers have done a good job of cutting output since July in anticipation of pressure. The industry in general has done a good job of staying ahead,” the producer said.

($1 = €0.79)

For more information on ACN, visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Ben Lefebvre
+1 713 525 2653



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