Glycol ethers Prices, markets & analysis
With a network of price reporters across Asia, Europe and the US, ICIS is fully equipped to keep you updated on everything that happens in the global Glycol ethers market, whether you buy or sell Glycol ethers or related products.
From daily and weekly reports containing price assessments obtained by our network of local reporters, to the news and analysis that put the market into focus, we provide the tools you need to make confident business decisions.
Glycol ethers Overview Transcript
Glycol ethers are made up of several types of chemicals, and due to them being characteristically soluble in water they are used primarily for solvents like paints and coatings.
They can also be used to make inks, cleaning products and pharmaceuticals among others.
Butyl glycol, PM solvent and PM acetate are some of the key chemicals found in the glycol ethers chain.
The glycol ethers market is a developing market in Asia, with growth being driven by the rapid economic expansion in countries like China which is the region’s largest solvent market.
Glycol ethers is a derivative from ethylene and propylene. It is found E series and P series, for their link with ethylene and propylene respectively. Butyl glycol, known and BG, is produced directly from normal butanol, while PM acetate and PM solvent come from propylene oxide.
With regard to BG, China and Southeast Asia are the two main importing markets. There are few plants in China, Malaysia and Japan but this is not enough to meet the demand. Hence BG is imported by global producers from their US and European plants, the market trends in the US and Europe impact market sentiment and prices in Asia.
Asia’s BG market is also influenced by the trends in upstream markets like normal butanol.
PM solvent and PM acetate is a fairly self-sufficient market within Asia. Both are produced in China, Taiwan, Japan, and Malaysia. PM solvent and PM acetate are usually traded jointly and the main buyers are found in southeast Asia. China has some local production, which is sold in parts to the local domestic market as well as into the region. PM solvent and PM acetate markets are also influenced by upstream markets like propylene and propylene oxide.
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Glycol ethers: Market overview
In the US, the glycol ethers market is largely driven by downstream paint and solvents industry demand, which is slowly recovering from the recession and the downturn in demand from construction and automobile manufacturing. Construction, and demand for paint, has been slower to rebound than was expected. But the auto industry has reported strong sales, creating unexpectedly healthy demand for coatings in recent months. Market participants are expecting downward pressure on prices in the fourth quarter, along with the end of the construction season.
Import tariff changes began to alter the trade flow of ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (butyl glycol) in Asia in 2013. In January 2013, Chinese regulators began collecting anti-dumping duties of between 9.3% and 18.8% on all European and US butyl glycol (BG) imports, prompting some producers to seek sales outlets in southeast Asia. In the first half of 2013, BG prices in Asia slumped as part of a broad-based petrochemical market downturn. In the third quarter of 2013, Asian BG prices are expected to rebound from an 18-month low following improved buying sentiment, rising feedstock costs, and the unexpected shutdown of Malaysian producer PETRONAS Chemicals Group’s 60,000 tonne/year BG plant between late June and late July.
European demand has seen some improvement in the third quarter in the paints and coatings industry because of improving weather conditions. Prolonged bad weather, together with the generally weak economic environment, dampened demand for most of the first half of 2013. Prices have been mainly influenced by feedstock movements rather than by demand, and are expected to rise in quarter three because of higher ethylene and propylene prices, and increasing demand in September once market participants return from August summer holidays.
Updated to mid-August 2013
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About Glycol ethers
There are two groups of glycol ethers: E-series and P-series depending on whether they are made from ethylene oxide (EO) or propylene oxide (PO). They are used mainly as a solvent in a variety of domestic and industrial applications such as paints and coatings.
E-series glycol ethers are used as solvents and coalescing aids in paint formulations while higher molecular weight glycol ethers are used in hydraulic brake fluids. They are used as intermediates to make esters.
Propylene glycol ethers (PGE) are high performance industrial solvents used in paints and coatings, cleaners, inks and other applications.
In the electronics industry, PGEs are used with other solvents in the manufacture of laminates and semiconductor processes for making circuit boards.
Other applications include agricultural, cosmetic, ink, textile and adhesive products.