Acrylonitrile markets are covered weekly by ICIS in Asia, Europe and the US by our network of locally based reporters.
The reports contain news and market analysis to help you keep abreast of global movements and include information on spot and contract prices, upstream and downstream markets, as well as production issues and any other influencing factors. This unbiased market intelligence can help you to make informed business decisions.
Updated to Q1 2021
At the start of Q1, deep-sea cargo availability was curtailed due to production issues in the US and Europe. Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Corp conducted a plant turnaround while China’s Sinopec Anqing faced mechanical issues at its unit. Shandong Haili delayed its plant restart. The tight supply worsened after the US winter storm. With regular US contract volumes to Asia expected to be cut in Q2, regional suppliers operated at higher rates to fill the supply gap.
Demand from the ABS and NBR sectors was healthy. However, demand from the AF sector was weak because of margin erosion amid an off-peak season.
Supply was extremely tight in Q1 with two force majeure declarations from Turkey’s Petkim and at INEOS Nitriles’ site in Germany. This was then further exacerbated by the polar storms that hit the US in February which resulted in all three USG producers on force majeure. Although Petkim lifted its declaration in early March, the market remained short at the end of Q1.
Demand in Q1 remained strong and better than expected for some. AF was running at around 80-90%, depending on the player, but a couple of key ABS buyers had to declare force majeure due to lack of ACN and one was running at 50%. ABS demand overall continues to be healthy along with acrylamide, nitrile rubber and carbon fibre (except in aerospace).
Supply decreased amid disruptions throughout the supply chain. Curtailed propylene production weighed on overall industry operating rates. Cornerstone reduced operating rates and declared force majeure at the beginning of April following a mechanical issue and raw material shortages. Historic winter weather in Texas and the US Gulf in mid-February prompted INEOS and Ascend to shut and declare force majeure at their Texas plants. Cornerstone also had a turnaround in mid-March. Production remained impacted into April.
Demand increased as downstream manufacturers increased production to meet rebounding demand across most end sectors. Recovering economic activity as vaccination programs advanced and coronavirus-related restrictions across the country eased contributed to increased demand and higher prices across the oil and gas sector, increasing acrylamides demand. Demand also increased after unexpected weather-related disruptions to the petrochemical industry in the US Gulf shuttered supply to downstream producers, squeezing inventories.
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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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