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.
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Acetic acid: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2017
Tight supply is likely to prevail into the fourth quarter because of prolonged outages at two plants in China and Singapore from mid-July to late September, along with unexpected outages at two other plants in Japan and China in September due to feedstock and mechanical issues. The exact duration of the production issues – which affected a combined 2m tonne/year of production capacities – could not be ascertained.
Demand in China is expected to be buoyant following improved derivatives pricing in the downstream ethyl acetate/butyl acetate and acetic anhydride sectors, prompting buyers to stock up, on concerns that prices could firm further. However, other buyers in Asia might adopt a cautious stance because of weakening feedstock methanol prices in China and on concerns of price corrections when the affected acetic acid plants would restart.
The supply of ACA in the fourth quarter is expected to be lower than in the preceding three months. The reason is the effect of hurricane Harvey. Although the storm hit some of the most important production locations in the Houston area in Texas in late August, the full aftermath has not probably still been gauged. However, suppliers emphasise that vessels are crossing the Atlantic, but substantially less than fully laden. The squeeze on supply is likely to be most visibly acute in October. Further out, it is unclear how affected it will be as a result of the hurricane.
Demand for ACA in the European market will probably be comparatively stable in the fourth quarter. There is usually little overall change in consumption, and the net effect of seasonality is relatively negligible. Thus, the expected decline in demand from the purified terephthalic acid (PTA) sector will be partly compensated for by the de-icer season starting to kick in. A particularly harsh winter could lift consumption.
Acetic acid supply in the US will remain tight for a part of Q4 as production gets back to normal in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey over the course of several weeks. Supply levels should normalise for the rest of the quarter. Also, slower demand during the off-peak season will remove some supply pressure.
For a part of Q4, demand for US acetic acid is expected to be strong for the limited amount of material on hand in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Overall, demand will decrease through the quarter as it will be the off-peak season for the downstream markets.
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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.