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.
Our independent and unbiased commentary includes an overview of weekly market activity, demand and supply trends, production issues, upstream movements, graphs and economic news.
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Polyvinyl chloride: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2018
Supply is expected to be decreased in Asia-Pacific. Several producers from South Korea and Japan have scheduled turnarounds in April and May. Turnaround season for the chlor-alkali market in Japan and South Korea will likely lead to tight supply of PVC's upstream products EDC and VCM. Additionally, an unexpected power outage at Tosoh's Nanyo chlor-alkali complex has the plant working at 30% capacity, with VCM and urethane operations stopped for a few weeks as of 9 April 2018.
Increasingly stringent environmental regulations may put pressure on carbide-based PVC production in China. The demand for PVC in India is traditionally strong in the second quarter, however the ban on letters of undertaking (LOUs) and letters of comfort (LOCs) has dampened market sentiment. This may lead to a surplus of PVC into the Asia-Pacific region.
European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) supply is expected to be mostly stable for Q2 compared to the previous quarter. There are some turnarounds planned in Europe from April onwards, but other maintenance shutdowns are distributed in Q3 rather than Q2. There are no major unplanned shutdowns or force majeures in Europe at present.
European PVC demand is expected to rise in line with the advent of warmer weather, which should also increase the consumption of PVC. Turkey, the largest European export market, is suffering from serious demand and currency issues at present. If these continue they could seriously affect export demand for Europe, although the outlook for this is uncertain.
PVC supply in Latin America for the second quarter of 2018 should easily meet stable requirements in the region, whether from domestic production or imports. Argentina and Brazil are expected to continue gradual recovery after the recessions of 2016. Adequate supply will allow Colombia and Mexico to continue steady exports to countries in South America or to other regions.
PVC demand in Latin America is projected to grow gradually in Argentina and Brazil during the second quarter of 2018, as the two countries continue to recover from the recession of 2016. Demand in Mexico is projected to remain healthy on construction activity. No immediate improvement is expected in Venezuela because of the country’s convulsed political and economic conditions.
Supply should build during the second quarter ahead of the seasonal spring demand surge ahead of the peak construction season of May through November. Some plant maintenances in March and April will moderate the inventory build.
Resin processors and compounders typically buy in early spring to make resins for construction materials, such as house siding, decking, pipes, window and door profiles and wire insulation.
Supply is expected to be mixed in the Middle East. Supply could ease as a regional producer is expected to resume production to optimal levels in April. Furthermore, the port congestion in the US has subsided. However, supply could also tighten as a US supplier is expected to have a scheduled shutdown in April. In India, supply is expected to be right on a busy maintenance season in April. Several northeast Asian producers from South Korea and Japan will be having scheduled turnarounds in April and May. Taiyo Vinyl Corporation has shut its 300,000 tonnes/year PVC unit from March to mid-April. Japan’s Shinetsu Chemical will shut its 550,000 tonnes/year PVC unit for 50 days from May to late June.
Demand is expected to strengthen in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on an increase in infrastructure and construction projects before Ramadan this year. Demand in the East Mediterranean is expected to remain weak due to political instability of the region. The demand outlook is uncertain in India. While demand for PVC in India is traditionally strong in the second quarter, the ban on letters of undertaking (LOUs) and letters of comfort (LOCs) has dampened market sentiment.
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Polyvinyl chloride news & analysis
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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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