OUTLOOK ’12:China ACN supply to grow on downstream demand

02 January 2012 01:30  [Source: ICIS news]

By Adele Zhu

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Acrylonitrile (ACN) supply in China – both domestic output and imports - is expected to grow steadily in 2012 on the back of stable downstream demand, mainly the acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) sector, market sources said.

The total supply of ACN is forecast to be at around 1.66m tonnes in 2012, up by 7.2% year on year, which includes domestic output at 1.14m tonnes and imports estimated at 520,000 tonnes.

China imported 480,000 tonnes of ACN in 2011 and domestic output was estimated at 1.07m tonnes in the year, according to Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

In 2012, imports – accounting for 30% of total supply – are expected to grow by 8.3% while domestic output is likely to increase by 6.6%.

However, China’s domestic nameplate capacity is expected to stay at 1.29m tonnes in the first half of 2012 and will rise to 1.42m tonnes in the second half, following the start-up of Anqing Petrochemical’s 130,000 tonne/year ACN unit in Anhui province, east China.

Demand from the downstream ABS sector, which accounts for about 33% of ACN consumption, is estimated to grow in 2012 because the nameplate capacity for ABS will increase by 950,000 tonnes to 3.688m tonnes/year in 2012, according to Chemease.

ABS is a common thermoplastic resin, widely used for the outer shell of home appliances, toys and other daily necessities.

Similarly, demand for ACN from the acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) sector is expected to rise too.

Zhenjiang Nantex’s 20,000 tonne/year expansion is expected to be finished in the first half of 2012 and Lanxess-TSRC (Nantong) Chemical’s 30,000 tonne/year new NBR unit is likely to come on stream in 2012, according to Chemease.

However, demand from acrylic fibre (AF) sector is likely to remain stable in 2012 as no expansion plans have been scheduled so far.

In addition, Fushun Petrochemical’s 55,000 tonne/year, Fushun Flame Resistance Group’s 5,000 tonne/year and Qilu Petrochemical’s 54,000 tonne/year AF unit may be permanently shut in accordance with the Chinese government’s policy to retire old plants.

Meanwhile, in the second half of 2011, most ACN producers in China cut their output to prevent losses as ACN prices fell to below the lowest level seen in 2010.

The lowest price in 2010 was assessed at yuan (CNY) 15,900 /tonne ($2,516/tonne) ex-tank in east China, and the lowest price in 2011 was assessed at CNY10,900/ tonne ex-tank in east China during the first half of November, ICIS data showed.

The decline in prices was largely a result of the credit tightening by the Chinese government, ongoing eurozone debt crisis and weak downstream demand, which was due to the low operating rates at ABS plants in China.

Ivy Ruan contributed to the article.

($1 = CNY6.32)

Please visit the complete ICIS plants and projects database
For more information on Acrylonitrile, visit ICIS chemical intelligence
Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

By: Adele Zhu

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