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 Q4 2016
In the US, demand is set to weaken as downstream vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) faces a slower paints and coatings market after a strong summer season. Downstream purified terephthalic acid (PTA) production is also expected to slow due to cooler weather and tapering bottled drink activity impacting the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) market. VAM and PTA production are the top demand outlets for acetic acid. Meanwhile, some supply length is likely to continue in the market.
The European market looks set to remain stable in the short term. Final-quarter contract settlements are imminent, but not confirmed at the time of writing. They are likely to continue at the same price levels as in the third quarter or reflect the most recent change in European methanol values, which would mean a slight increase. There are, however, signs that the market could become a little more lively in the coming year, with prices already rising in China and a season of turnarounds likely to have some effect on supply to Europe.
Key suppliers of Chinese material have further raised offers for October loading cargoes on the back of reduced inventories following export sales in August, as well as planned and unplanned acetic acid plant outages in China, Taiwan and southeast Asia. An anticipated demand recovery ahead of the National Day holiday bolstered the optimistic outlook on the market. Demand in India is also expected to be buoyant before Diwali in late October.
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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.