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 Q2 2019
Supply decreased amid the peak turnaround season from March to May, affecting several plants in China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Plant utilisation in China recovered to 87% by around mid-May, but this was followed by unplanned outages at a couple of key export-oriented producers’ plants from around late May to mid-June, due to mechanical issues. A global major in late May almost halved its utilisation rates at its Singapore-based plant on commercial reasons.
Demand in China and India was weak. China’s Ministry of Emergency Management launched a month-long inspection across the country on dangerous chemicals, mines and firefighting after a spate of blasts at petrochemical plants since late March. Plant utilisation rates in India’s downstream ethyl acetate industry were capped at 50% capacity since March on depressed derivative pricing. Off-takes from the downstream vinyl acetate monomer sector declined on plant maintenance shutdowns northeast Asia from March to May.
The supply of acetic acid to the European market was stable in Q2. Players found the market to be quite well balanced and there was ample availability. There were two confirmed and one unconfirmed shutdowns in Europe during the period, although their combined effect did not disrupt the flow of material. MSK in Serbia had a biennial turnaround, but had made an adequate provision of stocks for the event.
Suppliers described demand for acetic acid in Q2 as very satisfactory. Consumption of the product generally does not vary much and converters are not subject to marked changes in different seasons. Volumes could have been expected to increase for purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) in the spring, but both sectors have been rather sluggish, resulting in fairly constant consumption.
Supply was constrained in April for US acetic acid as access to material was limited following the fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) tank farm. Since then, acetic acid market conditions have held steady, reflecting ample supplies. Market activity remained slow with movement in spot methanol a potential offset to supplies. Any impact from Q2 production outages in downstream vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) were not seen affecting the well-supplied acetic acid market.
The fire at ITC and resulting constrained material led to a price increase for US acetic acid in late April. As such, prices were stable at the higher rate as demand from Mexico and Latin America was seen as strong throughout the quarter, providing support. New lows in feedstock methanol, both in the US and Europe, coupled with reduced global demand kept any further price increases from taking hold.
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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.