Our comprehensive Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) reports covered by our locally-based experts, help to keep you abreast of the latest market developments and make vital business decisions. The weekly ICIS price reports are published in Asia, China, Middle East/south Asia, CIS, Europe, the US and Latin America. Price assessments vary depending on the region and include spot, import, export, domestic and contract prices.
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Polyvinyl chloride: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2017
Supply is expected to be tighter especially from China. The carbide-based PVC producers are unlikely to get away with the tight supply situation, as environmental inspections are expected to be more stringent in winter season and China is going to have a very important political meeting in late October where many petrochemical productions are likely to be affected, especially in the norther provinces near Beijing. For ethylene-based PVC, supply is expected to be stable with no major turnarounds to be scheduled.
Demand for the cargoes is expected to be stable in Asia in Q4. In southeast Asia and India, ongoing construction projects will have steady requirement for the cargoes. In China, demand in October is projected to be strong after the Golden Week Holidays and in November and December demand is likely to be less robust but still remains stable.
PVC supply is expected to be constant to increasing in Q4 depending on how quickly production issues in the US and Mexico can be resolved. The outcome of increased environmental regulation in China is unclear but it is not expected to affect Europe directly. Towards the end of the quarter there is some risk of feedstock tightness due to the phasing out of mercury cell capacity, although sources expect any shortage to be covered by surplus capacity in Europe and imports.
European PVC demand is expected to fall towards the end of the year for typical seasonal reasons. The cold period in Europe will reduce activity in the construction industry, whilst market players are expected to attempt destocking towards the end of the year in order to reduce working capital. December is also typically a quiet month. Structural demand is expected to be unchanged or higher year on year.
As Brazil and Argentina recover from their recessions of 2016, supply is expected to become more balanced with increasing demand. As supply is consumed in Brazil's and Argentina’s domestic markets, less product should be available for export. Mexico and Colombia should continue exporting to their traditional buyers.
Demand is increasing in South America as Brazil’s and Argentina’s economies improve in the fourth quarter. Historically, demand in Brazil increases significantly in the second half of the year compared with the first half of the year, and could boost activity in neighbouring countries. Demand in the northern hemisphere is likely to decline with reduced activity in the construction sector on colder weather.
Supply will likely grow as US producers rebuild inventory following Harvey. This supply build, though, comes as peak demand season recedes.
The end of construction season ends a key demand factor for PVC, of which more than 50% of US production goes to make construction materials.
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Polyvinyl Chloride Methodology
About Polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) occurs as white, amorphous, odourless powder. It is soluble in nitrobenzene, cyclohexanone, and tetrahydrofuran but insoluble in vinyl chloride. It is resistant to dilute alkalis and acids but is attacked by concentrated nitric and chromic acids.
Two types of PVC homopolymer are produced: rigid resins which are inflexible and hard; and flexible resins which contain a large proportion of plasticiser to make them soft and can be stretched. Products made from rigid PVC include pipe and conduit and roofing tiles.
Flexible PVC finds outlets in wire and cable coating, flooring, coated fabrics and shower curtains. Other outlets for flexible PVC are film and sheet and flooring.
Polymerisation is normally performed at 40-70oC with the vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) in a liquid state under pressure in a batch reactor. Suspension polymerisation is the most common PVC process because the resins produced are the most versatile and suitable for a wide range of applications.
The resin produced from the polymerisation process is hard and brittle and requires conversion into a compound by the incorporation of additives such as plasticisers, modifiers, stabilisers and processing aids before conversion into finished products.
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