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Updated to Q1 2021
Supply was tight in Q1 owing to production issues at Saudi Arabia’s Tasnee, South Korea’s LG Chem and turnaround at Formosa Plastics Corp in Taiwan. After the US winter storm, global supply tightened following plant outages and force majeures. Shortages of upstream materials propylene, n-butanol and 2-ethylhexanol in the West curtailed production. Some Asian cargoes were diverted to the other regions.
Demand in Asia was healthy, recovering from last year. Demand was bullish in India, as there was pent-up demand for housing and automotive. However, with prices of many raw materials surging after the Lunar New Year holiday, downstream sectors were under cost pressure and some downstream production was said to be affected.
Supply was severely disrupted in Q1. Numerous force majeures and sales controls in Europe and globally hit acrylate ester production. Issues with key feedstocks, including the oxo-alcohols, also restricted available volumes. AA also faced restricted supply.
Demand for AA and the acrylate esters was strong, rolling over from the high levels seen at the end of Q4 2020. There was also a slight increase in demand as the coatings season got underway. However, there was limited capacity for demand to increase as downstream plants were running at or close to capacity.
Supply of US acrylic acid and its esters tightened during Q1 2021 on strong demand, restricted supply of upstream raw materials including propylene and oxo-alcohols, n-butanal (NBA) and 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) and a severe mid-February winter storm in the central and southern US that forced regional petrochemical outages. Buyers continued to face volume allocations and extended lead times as the supply chain struggled to recover at the end of Q1. Supply to customers also remained stymied by ongoing transportation strictures.
US acrylic acid demand from architectural coatings and packaging and construction adhesives continued to outpace supply throughout Q1 2021 but weakened amid some mid-quarter slowdowns in the housing markets caused by the winter storm. Month-on-month housing starts were down in February, as were sales of existing homes and new single-family homes attributed to low inventories. Also, US builder confidence in the new single-family homes market fell moderately in March because of rising costs for lumber and other materials.
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Acrylic Acid and Acrylate Esters in Europe are covered under separate entries. These products are combined in the regional reports published in Asia and the United States. Please see separate entries for information on the European market.
Acrylate esters are colourless liquids with acrid odours, and are traded as technical grade (99% purity). Methyl acrylate and ethyl acrylate are toxic enough to require a hazardous shipping label, while butyl acrylate and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (2EHA) are considered safe.
Acrylate esters are used in the manufacture of surface coatings/paints and resins, adhesives and plastics, dispersions and in some cases paper.
They are readily polymerised if exposed in water, to form a latex (a dispersion of solid particles in water) such as latex paints.
An associated product is methyl methacrylate. Acrylate esters are made from the reaction of an alcohol to an acid such as acrylic acid. This process is called esterification.