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 Q1 2019
Supply was relatively ample on the back of high output in China, where the average plant operating rate hovered at around 80% of capacity. This, coupled with balanced market conditions outside China and weak derivatives market performances, may weigh on the pricing trend, pending the start of the acetic acid plant turnaround season in March.
Demand in China decreased ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays in early February while bearish sentiment along the methanol, acetic acid and derivatives value chain weighed on the overall demand. Production in the downstream vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) sector in Asia declined with the shutdown of Sinopec Sichuan Vinylon’s plant and Celanese’s Singapore-based plant in January.
There is finite capacity for acetic acid production, with no new significant projects on the drawing board for 2019. As those plants that had been out of commission for part of 2018 are now back up, it is difficult to see how the existing resources can be stretched much further. Also, Celanese in the US has just expanded its vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) capacity and part of its, unchanged, acetic acid output will presumably be employed in feeding that increase in downstream American consumption rather than going directly to Europe.
Acetic acid consumption in Europe has been growing gradually and it is generally expected that this process will continue, mirroring the evolution of general economic growth. Many players are a little gloomy about the economic background in the short-term future, with the troubles of the German automobile industry and uncertainty over the US-China trade dispute clouding earlier optimism.
In recent years, US acetic acid supply issues have overshadowed demand in the first quarter, though there are no plant issues at present. Celanese plans to expand its acetic acid plant in Clear Lake, Texas, by 140,000 tonnes at some point during the next two years. The company is planning technology-oriented process enhancement projects to boost its acetic acid capacity at the 1.5m tonne/year plant by 2020.
Over the past decade January has seen four decreases and two increases. The price hikes netted out higher than the drops. But including February and March, history shows that first-quarter increases have outnumbered decreases by about a 60-40 margin.
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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.