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 2020
Supply declined during Q4 2020 due to a slew of planned and unplanned outages affecting plants belonging to BYACO, Shaanxi Yanchang, Hebei Yingdu, Henan Longyu, Yankuang Cathay Coal Chemical, Tianjin Soda, Celanese, Chang Chun Petrochemical, Lotte BP Chemical and International Acetyls Company. This exacerbated the shortage of export availabilities from China since the previous quarter.
Demand was steady from India and southeast Asia-based end-users on restocking activities amid buoyant market conditions in the downstream ethyl/butyl acetate sectors. India’s downstream ethyl acetate market strengthened, underpinned by ongoing exports amid troubled production at a Europe-based producer’s plant. Demand in the key northeast Asia market of Japan was subdued due to prevailing balanced market conditions, but buying interest emerged in South Korea following an unplanned plant outage in early November.
There was a reduction in the quantity of acetic acid available to the European market in Q4. Although producers were able to fulfil the requirements of contract customers, the spot market was relatively tight, as suppliers prioritised their contractual commitments, in some cases with difficulty, with one resorting to its global network of facilities to ensure this outcome. This became more evident through the period, reflected in modest price increments in November and December.
Just as in the preceding three months, the market’s increased tightness also owed something to improved demand in Q4. While certain sectors, such as hygiene and medical applications, had held up well throughout the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, other downstream markets, like VAM, which had taken a severe knock in the earlier months of the year continued on an upward path during Q4.
US acetic acid supplies were seen as somewhat tighter in Q4 but stable demand and domestic production rates persisted during the prolonged coronavirus pandemic in the western hemisphere. Overall market activity remained slow with upward movement in spot methanol a potential offset to supplies. Sales control and price increase announcements were seen in Q4 by separate producers which is likely to see more of an impact in early 2021.
Consumption of US acetic acid has remained more muted since the crude oil crash and widespread lockdowns from the coronavirus pandemic. While some pockets of demand persisted, for things like cleaning agents, the product’s usage in the energy sector took a bigger hit. Stronger feedstock pricing in methanol have helped to boost acetic acid costs and pricing while exports continue to remain low year on year.
Acetic acid news and market information products from ICIS
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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.