Europe Feb acetic acid prices roll over on stable fundamentals

14 February 2014 23:59 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--European acetic acid February contract prices were assessed by ICIS on Friday at €430-480/tonne, a rollover from January, on stable market fundamentals.

The contracts were concluded on a free delivered (FD) northwest Europe (NWE) basis.

Price increases recorded last month were based on a rise in methanol costs for the first quarter. Demand is likely to remain seasonally low until next month at the earliest.

Suppliers observed that European demand this year will be significantly lower than in 2013, owing to the closure of two large vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plants in the fourth quarter.

On a nameplate capacity basis, these plants would have consumed around 375,000 tonnes/year of acetic acid. However, at least one of the units was understood to have been operating well below its maximum capacity last year.

One producer noted that off-take into the de-icer sector has been relatively weak on account of the mild winter, although demand from purified terephthalic acid (PTA) producers is better than it had expected. The source said that February demand overall is in line with its expectations.

Another producer described a stable market with acceptable demand, but noted that maintenance work is scheduled to take place during the second quarter at acetic acid plants in Asia and the US.

A third producer said that it was aware of some supply constraints in southern Europe.

A reseller said that it was short of product and had raised its prices by about €40/tonne across the board compared with last year.

In contrast, a buyer in southern Europe described good availability and steady demand. A second buyer said that the market appears stable and balanced and that its own demand is flat.

By Samuel Weatherlake