The Acetic Acid report is published weekly in Asia, Europe and the US. Our locally based ICIS reporters gather news on spot and contract business, demand and supply issues, production, feedstock developments and any other influencing factors that will impact price movements. This enables ICIS to publish independent price assessments as well as news and analysis which those in the industry can use to make decisions with confidence.
Acetic acid Overview Transcript
Most acetic acid is produced by methanol carbonylation. In this process methanol and carbon monoxide react to form acetic acid. The principal outlets for acetic acid are into vinyl acetate monomer or VAM, acetic anhydride and purified terephthalic acid or PTA. Europe is structurally dependent on imported material.
The largest European producer is BP which is based at Hull in the UK. There is also significant production in Serbia and Russia but other European plants are largely for internal consumption.
The main importers are Celanese and LyondellBasell from the US and International Acetyl Company based in Saudi Arabia. However, in a tight market buyers can source additional volumes from Asia.
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Acetic acid: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2016
Although the immediate outlook for the European acetic acid market is unclear, weak methanol values could lend downward pressure on prices in Q2, amid sufficient supply in the market. However, demand is said to be relatively healthy and should probably strengthen for seasonal reasons, which would see higher offers in the coming quarter.
In the US, demand is set to strengthen on the restart of two downstream vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plants. Downstream purified terephthalic acid (PTA) production also remains strong. VAM and PTA production are the top demand outlets for acetic acid. Although exports of acetic acid have been weak in 2016 compared to 2015, sources said that this will likely change in the summer months.
Asia’s acetic acid prices started the quarter steady-to-firmer led by higher prices in China amid tightened supply owing to a spate of acetic acid plant turnarounds in April and May. Liquidity, however, remained hampered on the broader level by the prevailing wide buy-sell spread. While buyers acknowledge the tight supply-driven upward pressure on prices, they have largely rejected price hikes of over $5/tonne. This was mainly because downstream market conditions remain unsupportive, some supplier sources said. The uptrend is further expected to be short-lived when acetic acid plants return from maintenance shutdowns, market players added.
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Acetic Acid Methodology
About Acetic acid
Acetic acid is a clear, colourless, mobile liquid with a pungent odour and acidic taste. It is miscible in water and most organic solvents but insoluble in mineral oils and carbon disulphide.
Acetic acid is used as a chemical intermediate and solvent with widespread applications throughout industry. The largest outlet is vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), which is used in paints, adhesives, textiles, paper, films and chewing gum. Many VAM plants are integrated with acetic acid facilities.
The production of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) is the second largest outlet consuming 18% of acetic acid production.
There are many other applications from fragrances to foodstuffs and dyes to detergents.