Acrylonitrile markets are covered weekly by ICIS in Asia, Europe and the US by our network of locally based reporters.
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Updated to Q3 2020
Spot supply was tight in Q3 following production cuts, outages and turnarounds in China and other parts of Asia, countering new supply from Zhejiang Petrochemical. China’s Shandong Haili shut its unit in August and September. Taiwanese producers prepared inventory ahead of their upcoming turnarounds in October 2020 and January 2021. South Korea’s Taekwang had an outage at its unit and operated at reduced rates. Deep-sea availability was also curtailed, due to turnarounds in Europe.
Demand in Q3 largely improved. Downstream ABS operations were above 90% to near full rates, led by China’s demand recovery. Consumption from the AF sector also increased with operating rates in China largely above 50% to 70%, although the rates had fallen to below 50% in September amid turnarounds and rising ACN prices. The Indian AF market was hit by the coronavirus pandemic and AF plants operated at reduced rates, although demand improved in September.
As Q3 progressed, producers started to nudge rates up to 75-80% and then to over 80% and towards 85%. However, Petkim went into a planned maintenance in July at its site in Aliaga, Turkey, and remains out of production following technical issues, with a restart at the end of November. INEOS Nitriles carried out some planned maintenance at its larger line in Germany for 3-4 weeks at the end of Q3/start of Q4.
Demand was showing signs of increasing into July. AF rates rose to 65-75%, up from 50% in June. By the end of Q3, these moved to 85-90%. End-uses connected with the automotive sector also saw some recovery, boosted some say by fiscal incentives offered by governments. August demand was mixed with the usual summer slowdown in the south in particular, but September saw healthier consumption from most sectors.
Production increased following the completion of multiple large-scale turnarounds in Q2. No major turnarounds were recorded in Q3. Production also increased amid rebounding demand across several key end-use segments, namely automotive, following coronavirus-related shutdowns in Q2. Demand from the automotive sector started to rebound toward the end of Q3, mirroring the V-shaped recovery seen across several end-use segments following the onset of the pandemic.
Demand increased as several key end-use segments began to recover. Demand in the key automotive sector started to rebound toward the end of the quarter after the industry largely shut down in Q2 because of the pandemic. Demand for downstream ABS and nylon also increased ahead of the back-to-school season, tracking increased demand for computer equipment for e-learning.
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Acrylonitrile (ACN) is used to make acrylic fibres, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN)
Acrylonitrile (ACN) is a clear, colourless or pale yellow flammable liquid with a sweet, pungent, irritating odour. It is partially soluble in water, soluble in most organic solvents (including ethyl alcohol, acetone, benzene, carbon tetrachloride and ethyl acetate), very reactive and polymerises violently in the presence of alkalis or peroxides.
ACN is used mainly as a monomer or comonomer in the production of synthetic fibres, plastics and elastomers. The largest outlet is in the manufacture of acrylic fibres, which are used in clothing. Acrylic fibres also have uses in home furnishings and bedding.
An important outlet for ACN is the acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS)/styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) market.
The dominant route for the manufacture of ACN is the one-step propylene ammoxidation process, replacing the original acetylene-based technology. New technology based on propane ammoxidation is being developed by a number of ACN producers with claims of a 30% production cost advantage compared to the propylene route.
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