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.
Updated to Q4 2019
Overall supply saw some lengthening in the quarter on fewer plant shutdowns. Reduced utilisation rates at downstream polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) plants in Japan further added to the supply length in northeast Asia. Supply was the heaviest in November, before a spate of unplanned plant outages in China in December – caused partly by mechanical issues – tightened up supply.
A heavy turnaround schedule in the downstream vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) sector in Asia curbed demand during the quarter. Consumption from the downstream ethyl acetate (etac) sectors in China and India also declined due to unplanned plant outages in China. Downstream etac producers in India who were saddled with high-cost feedstock inventories had also resorted to output cuts amid high inventories of finished goods.
Supply of acetic acid to the European market was reduced in the third quarter of 2019. The outage at the large Celanese plant at Clear Lake in Texas in late September caused severe difficulties. The acetic acid unit was completely out of operation for some time and then slowly returned, although not back to full operating rates even in December.
There was a mild reduction in demand in the European theatre in the last three months of the year. Consumption of purified terephthalic acid (PTA), never particularly strong in 2019, tailed off with the seasonal decline in demand for PET bottles. On the other hand, mild weather in the early winter meant that requirements of the de-icing sector failed to compensate for the PTA demand. However, the overall reduction was very small.
Acetic acid market conditions have held relatively steady. The US acetic acid market had not seen much upward pressure from Q4 production issues, and any potential impact was somewhat diminished as production rates are returning to normal levels. Market activity remained slow with movement in spot methanol a potential offset to supplies.
Demand was more muted during Q4 following production issues, both planned and unplanned in the US. An earlier-than-expected drop in temperatures across much of the US boosted demand for end-use de-icers. Exports of acetic acid from the US dropped to their lowest number yet this year in October on the back of production cuts and weakened global demand.
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Acetic acid, a clear colourless liquid with a pungent odour, is used as a chemical intermediate and solvent with widespread applications throughout industry.
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.
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