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Acrylic acid-Acrylate esters: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2017
Traders are eyeing arbitrage opportunities to the US in light of lower plant operating rates in the country after Hurricane Harvey caused some acrylic acid (AA) and acrylate ester plants to shut. This may mean some outflow of Asian cargoes into the US. Meanwhile, Nippon Shokubai’s 80,000 tonne/year AA plant in Cilegon, West Java, Indonesia, is shut for maintenance until mid-October and the acrylates production is also halted.
Demand in China is expected to improve after the Mid-Autumn festival holiday, since there had not been much stocking up before the holiday. India demand growth had been sluggish because of demonetization and GST implementation earlier in the year. Some improvement is expected, but market participants were not hopeful to see a drastic improvement by the end of the year.
Availability of acrylic acid (AA) in Europe in the fourth quarter is expected to largely be stable with Q3. However, October supply is likely to tighten owing to the impact on production and logistics from Hurricane Harvey in the US, two turnarounds taking place in Europe and on little surplus volume available for the spot market.
While October demand for acrylic acid (AA) is set to be healthy, the market is expected to slow down in November and more so in December as players start to prepare for year-end destocking. The fourth quarter is usually the period when the market slows.
US acrylates supply is expected to be somewhat constrained during the early part of the fourth quarter as production continues to regain momentum after Hurricane Harvey. However, as market conditions, including transportation logistics, continue to improve, supply is expected to return to more normal levels.
During a quarter in which demand and pricing usually drops off with the Christmas and US Thanksgiving holidays, as well as year-end destocking, some domestic acrylates sources anticipate potentially stable demand amid Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. There is debate as to whether demand will begin to gain significant momentum late in the quarter or gain strength early next year.
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Acrylic Acid/Acrylate Esters Methodology
About Acrylic acid-Acrylate esters
Acrylate esters are colourless liquids with acrid odours, and are traded as technical grade (99% purity). Methyl acrylate and ethyl acrylate are toxic enough to require a hazardous shipping label, while butyl acrylate and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (2EHA) are considered safe.
Acrylate esters are used in the manufacture of surface coatings/paints and resins, adhesives and plastics, dispersions and in some cases paper.
They are readily polymerised if exposed in water, to form a latex (a dispersion of solid particles in water) such as latex paints.
An associated product is methyl methacrylate. Acrylate esters are made from the reaction of an alcohol to an acid such as acrylic acid. This process is called esterification.