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Updated to Q4 2020
Acrylic acid and acrylates were tight on production issues in Asia and beyond. Saudi Arabia’s Tasnee encountered technical issues and operated its butyl-A plant at reduced rate. LG Chem’s acrylic acid and acrylate ester plant operation was impacted following an upstream cracker outage. Chinese exports increased following regional supply gaps. Some Asian butyl-A cargoes were heard sold to Europe and neighbouring areas after BASF declared FM at its Germany butyl-A plant.
Demand was largely healthy. Buying interest was keen due to tight spot supply. In China, it was the peak manufacturing season at the start of Q4, but demand slowed down towards year end. In southeast Asia, demand gradually recovered and sentiment improved. In India, demand was firm following pent-up demand earlier in the year during coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions.
Supply for AA in Europe remains disrupted following Dow taking Boehlen offline in Q3. No other changes have occurred, keeping the market supply balanced-to-tight.
Demand has steadily increased in Q4 as end-uses have continued their recovery from the coronavirus earlier in the year. In particular, coatings have continued to perform strongly in the final part of 2020.
US acrylic acid supply during Q4 became more constrained as demand increased toward the end of the period. At least two major producers placed acrylates on sales controls in December, largely stemming from strong demand, but transportation constraints – truck-driver shortages as well as port and railhead congestion – also were lengthening domestic delivery lead times. Domestic Q4 pricing generally tracked small gains in upstream propylene in October and November, while spot export prices escalated.
US acrylic acid demand from architectural coatings and packaging adhesives continued to gain momentum throughout Q4, contrary to typical year-end patterns. Much of that buying interest was attributed to pent-up demand stemming from previous spring coronavirus lockdowns and some restocking for early 2021 amid some economic optimism centred on the implementation of coronavirus vaccines. With the coronavirus continuing to escalate in Q4, the do-it-yourself (DIY) paint sector also remained strong.
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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.