The Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) markets are covered by ICIS on a weekly basis in Asia, Europe and the US. These benchmark assessments, used widely by industry, are key to keeping you fully informed of market developments.
Prices are predominantly for the spot market, though domestic and regional quotes also appear. Our locally-based reporters give informed but unbiased commentary on market overviews, upstream and downstream movements, economic news, graphs and plant shutdowns/operating rates, when applicable.
Our editor gives their expert view
Methyl ethyl ketone Overview transcript
Methyl ethyl ketone or MEK is a solvent used mainly in paints and coatings and adhesives. It is also found in household products such as lacquer, varnishes, and paint remover.
Japan, Taiwan, China and the US are key exporters to markets such as South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand. Most sellers outside of China have long-term supply contracts, with distributors across Asia, and prices are usually settled on a monthly basis.
The Chinese tend to be spot sellers and any big swings in their supply can quickly impact regional prices.
The predominance of long-term supply agreements has done little to keep Asian prices stable in recent years, with demand growth outstripping capacity expansions in Asia, any tightening in supply due to plant shutdowns can effect prices significantly.
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Methyl ethyl ketone news and market information products from ICIS
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Methyl ethyl ketone: Market overview
Updated to Q3 2016
European methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) sellers are likely to push for price increases in the third quarter (Q3) in order to improve margins, which have been pressured by the narrowing spread between MEK and naphtha.
The outlook for feedstocks is uncertain due to the volatile crude oil market.
The MEK market is regarded as slightly more balanced than long in a structural sense, a situation which is likely to continue in the absence of a major supply shock.
Asian prices are expected to be stable, as the waning demand is balanced by the tightened supply.
The summer season typically hinders production in major exporting market, Japan, and downstream paint and coating demand in major importing market, South Korea.
Prices are expected to be buoyed by the tightened supply, with Idemitsu Kosan and Tasco scheduled for turnarounds.
US prices for MEK trended steadily lower in Q2 on continued competition from Asia material.
However, US trade data showed imports from Asia slowed substantially through the end of Q2, leading some market participants to suggest that MEK values may have reached a floor.
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Methyl Ethyl Ketone Methodology
About Methyl ethyl ketone
Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is a colourless, mobile, flammable liquid with an acetone like odour. It is soluble in ethyl alcohol, benzene, ether and acetone, and miscible with oils. It is also a fast-evaporating active solvent with an evaporation rate similar to ethyl acetate.
The main application for MEK is as a low-boiling solvent for nitrocellulose, acrylic and vinyl surface coatings. Around half of global MEK demand is derived from the paints and coatings industry. Its advantage is that low viscosity solutions can be obtained, having a high solids content, without affecting the film properties. These lacquers are used in the automotive, electrical goods and furniture industries.
MEK can also be used in rubber-based industrial cements and printing inks. Its fast evaporation rate makes it popular for rubber-based industrial cements, low-temperature bonding agents and as an azeotropic separation solvent for printing inks. It is also a component of the solvent system used in producing magnetic tape.
MEK is also a solvent required for the polymerisation processing of polystyrene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and styrene-butadiene-rubber (SBR).