FocusAsia VAM may rebound on firmer feedstock costs

31 July 2012 07:18  [Source: ICIS news]

By Samuel Wong

Asia VAM may rebound on firmer feedstocks costsSINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot prices of vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) in Asia may have troughed and look set to rebound in the near term, on the back of firmer values of feedstocks ethylene and acetic acid, market sources said on Tuesday.

On 27 July, VAM prices were largely stable week on week at $1,020-1,050/tonne (€836-861/tonne) NE (northeast) Asia; $900-950/tonne CFR CMP (China Main Port); $980-1,040/tonne CFR SE (southeast) Asia, and; $960-980/tonne CFR South Asia, according to ICIS.

“We expect prices at the present level to have bottomed out,” said a northeast Asia-based producer.

Prices of feedstock acetic acid in Asia remained firm for a third straight week, rising by $5/tonne week on week to $425-435/tonne CFR NE Asia on 27 July, while CFR SE Asia prices increased $5/tonne at the low-end of the range to $450-460/tonne.

Asian ethylene spot prices, on the other hand, rose by $30-40/tonne week on week to $1,100-1,140/tonne CFR NE Asia on 27 July, according to ICIS.

Presently, there is still a lack of fresh offers in the markets, as producers re-evaluate August numbers because of firmer feedstock values, according to a number of buyers.

Buyers expect fresh offers to be made between now and next week.

A few producers have said that there are plans to increase offer prices by about $20-30/tonne for August, citing higher feedstock costs, with a major producer suggesting price hikes of as high as $50-100/tonne.

“It is unreasonable that prices should continue to fall, when feedstock prices are going higher by the week,” said another producer.

 In addition, demand for VAM in South Korea is expected to strengthen into September on the impending start-up of Hanwha Chemical Corp’s new 40,000 tonne/year ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA)/low density polyethylene (LDPE) swing plant at Ulsan on that month, said a third northeast Asia-based producer.

VAM is the raw material for EVA production. It is further used in coatings and paint/emulsion industries, in adhesives (polyvinyl alcohol), and as a textile and paper additive (polyvinyl acetate).

Demand coming from downstream EVA sector is currently better than expected, prompting South Korea’s Asia Acetyls Co (Asacco) to push back the scheduled turnaround at its 210,000 tonnes/year VAM plant in Ulsan to next year.

In the domestic Chinese market, VAM ex-tanks prices in the eastern part of the country was up by yuan (CNY) 10-50/tonne from a week earlier at CNY7,000-7,050/tonne ($1,097-1,105/tonne) for the week ended 27 July, according to ICIS data.

Last week, a major Chinese producer increased its VAM offer by CNY100/tonne to CNY7,000/tonne on higher feedstock costs, and in anticipation of improved demand in mid-August, market sources said.

In Japan, production of VAM in June rose 5% year on year to 47,892 tonnes, a reflection of higher demand for EVA, according to data from the Sakubi Poyal Kogyokai (VAM POVH Industry Association).

($1 = €0.82 / $1 = CNY6.38)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections
Request a free ICIS sample report for the latest prices and development in the Asian petrochemical markets

By: Samuel Wong

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