Methyl ethyl ketone Prices, markets & analysis
ICIS provides independent and unbiased pricing information, news and market analysis for the global Methyl ethyl ketone market. Our network of price reporters, based in Asia, Europe and the US, deliver local insight for each of these markets, which is published in our individual weekly and daily price reports.
If you buy or sell Methyl ethyl ketone or related products, our reports, news and market intelligence will give you the prices and analysis of the factors driving the prices that you need to make confident commercial decisions.
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: Market overview
Updated to Q1 2015
Prices of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) spiked in Q4 2014 due to limited availability, but have now begun to drop as more quantities are available from imports and European producers, and feedstock rates have declined. A number of Asian sellers are currently diverting large amounts of cargo to Europe. The long-term balance of the market is uncertain since it is unclear when certain producers will return to full production.
Asian prices are expected to be stable-to-weak, on the back of freefall in upstream crude and naphtha prices. Several MEK producers are attempting to cushion the decline via tightened supply, by channelling cargoes out of Asia to Europe and the USA, where margins are stronger. Meanwhile demand remains muted, with stocking up activities pre and post Lunar New Year in February likely to be prudent.
Participants in the US MEK sector expected feedstock prices and global crude movement to keep prices stable, after rates previously reached their highest levels in nearly three years. Feedstock ethylene has seen a downward price movement. In addition, the crude market in the US continues to affect many petrochemicals. Although MEK globally remains fairly snug, US market participants do not think MEK suppliers would be justified in price increases.
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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).