US VAM spot prices jump $65/tonne on raw material increases

17 August 2012 21:21  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Spot prices for US vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) rose $65/tonne (€53/tonne) in the past week in response to feedstock supply issues, including a force majeure on acetic acid in late July and rising ethylene costs, sellers said on Friday.

The VAM free on board (FOB) export range was assessed at $860-960/tonne, up from $795-895 previously, according to ICIS.

One seller said spot buyers were being offered $900-950/tonne, which was designed to undercut a larger competitor heard seeking $960-1,000/tonne.

Another seller was heard offering a much higher spot range, with a low of $930/tonne and more than $1,100/tonne on the high end, but it could not be confirmed.

Spot VAM has increased $110/tonne in the past month, mostly in response to the acetic acid outage at a Texas City plant, which lead to a force majeure declaration by BP in July.

Major US VAM producers include DuPont, Dow Chemical, Celanese and LyondellBasell.

BP has not said when the force majeure will end. Both DuPont and Dow are BP acetic acid customers.

DuPont’s VAM plant in LaPorte went down for maintenance in July shortly before the BP outage. DuPont spokesman Aaron Woods said the plant was operational. He would not say when the plant started back up.

A Dow source earlier this month would not comment on whether the company was obtaining acetic acid for VAM production. The Dow source said the rise in feedstock ethylene also was pushing VAM prices up.

US ethylene spot prices for August jumped to 50.75-55.00 cents/lb this week, versus 48.50-55.00 cents/lb a week earlier. Supply remains tight because of low operating rates. Spot ethylene has increased almost 9% in the past four weeks.

BP has not said when the force majeure will end.

($1 = €0.81)

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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