Celanese's US, European acetic acid buyers on 100% sales control

28 February 2013 21:41  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Celanese put its US and European acetic acid customers on 100% sales control this week because of a raw material supply problem at a Texas plant, according to a customer letter obtained on Thursday.

The move stemmed from “disruptions in the supply of a key raw material at our Clear Lake, Texas production facility,” the letter said.

The document did not name the raw material. A key feedstock for acetic acid is methanol, which Celanese obtains from Southern Chemical Corp (SCC) in Houston.

The sales control began on 26 February and will extend through 31 March for Celanese customers in the Americas, and through April 30 for European customers, according to the letter.

Sources said the 1.2m tonnes/year acetic acid plant near Houston has been shut down  for the past few days.

However, Celanese’s letter did not state whether the plant is operating. 

Preference will be given to contract and long-term customers, and volumes will be based on the most recent forecast given to Celanese, consistent with contractual commitments, the letter said.

If a forecast is not available, Celanese will estimate the customer’s demand based on historical purchases, the letter added. If a customer has additional requirements, Celanese will review them on a case-by-case basis.

A buyer said some of the company’s smaller customers are unhappy with those terms.

“Traders are getting zero, and end users – who buy less, but pay more – are getting a few pounds,” the buyer said.

A Celanese spokeswoman said the company does not comment on specific plant operations unless of a material nature.

Acetic acid is a core product for Celanese, which is one of the world’s largest producers of that petrochemical and of downstream vinyl acetate monomer (VAM).

US acetic acid spot prices increased this week by 7.5% to $650-$700/tonne (€494-532/tonne), from $605-$650/tonne previously, based partly on a rise in US methanol spot barge prices earlier this month and also because of the Celanese sales control, sources said.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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