FocusUS acetic acid spot drops on slack demand, ample supply

19 October 2012 19:48  [Source: ICIS news]

By Lane Kelley

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Another drop in US spot acetic acid this week put the key acetyl near a two-year low, with sources attributing the latest move to continued slackening demand and a return to normal operations at a Texas plant.

A buyer in China said US spot acetic acid could go lower if demand for vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) and some other downstream products does not improve. The buyer said the likelihood of acetic acid prices going up soon seemed remote.

“I will not expect for prices to increase in the USA unless there is a disruption in production for at least three to four weeks,” the buyer said.

Demand for VAM, the top downstream product, has tailed off some in October because of two Texas plant turnarounds in progress, one at LyondellBasell and the other possibly DuPont. 

Spokesmen at both companies would not confirm or deny plant maintenance being done. Sources said LyondellBasell’s work would be finished at the end of this week. The other VAM plant turnaround, said by some to be at DuPont’s unit, would be finished next week.

This week’s drop in acetic acid prices to $560-625/tonne marks the second correction in October and is another reaction to the jump that began in July following a force majeure declared by BP on material produced at a Texas plant. The two-year low is $510-575/tonne set in November 2010.

Prices shot up in July and August. BP said it lifted its force majeure in September.

 Corrections in October have returned spot acetic acid prices to just a little higher than the level where they were before the plant problem occurred in July.

Acetic acid spot prices fell by $45/tonne earlier this month. An acetic acid seller attributed the declines to BP’s lifting the force majeure and improving availability. Sellers have reported a slight softening in prices in October.

Major US acetic acid sellers include BP, Eastman Chemical and Celanese.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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