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.
Acetic acid Overview Transcript
Most acetic acid is produced by methanol carbonylation. In this process methanol and carbon monoxide react to form acetic acid. The principal outlets for acetic acid are into vinyl acetate monomer or VAM, acetic anhydride and purified terephthalic acid or PTA. Europe is structurally dependent on imported material.
The largest European producer is BP which is based at Hull in the UK. There is also significant production in Serbia and Russia but other European plants are largely for internal consumption.
The main importers are Celanese and LyondellBasell from the US and International Acetyl Company based in Saudi Arabia. However, in a tight market buyers can source additional volumes from Asia.
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Acetic acid: Market overview
Updated to Q1 2017
Acetic acid prices across the regions are facing upward pressure from higher feedstock methanol costs. In Asia, demand and prices are expected to be firm in Q1, although the Chinese market will observe seasonal downtrend ahead of and during the lunar new year period. New demand from Methanol-to-olefins plants in China is expected to increase methanol and consequently, acetic acid prices. A series of scheduled turnarounds from major producers in the region in quarter two and three would also encourage downstream buyers to stock up from the first quarter.
In Europe, methanol contracts had a €107/tonne hike in the first quarter, although much acetic acid sold in the Europe is imported and not directly affected by that cost. So far, players on both sides of the market appear to recognise that, with no material available from “exotic” sources, values are likely to rise, although the size of any prospective increase will be subjected to sturdy discussions.
In the US, demand will remain weak in Q1 as downstream vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) faces a slow paints and coatings market. Downstream purified terephthalic acid (PTA) production is also expected to be slow due to cooler weather and sluggish bottled drink activity impacting the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) market. Meanwhile, some supply length is likely to continue to exist in the market.
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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.