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 Q2 2020
Supply was tight in Q2, due to plant turnarounds and production cuts in China and Asia. China’s Shandong Keluer, Jilin Petrochemical, Shanghai SECCO and Jiangsu Sailboat had turnarounds. South Korea’s Tongsuh Petrochemical also shut its No 3 unit for debottlenecking from early May to June, while its production sites in Asia operated at 70%. By the end of June, turnarounds in Asia were completed and China’s Zhejiang Petrochemical had started up its new plant.
Demand in Q2 started sluggish as many markets were impacted by coronavirus lockdowns and downstream operations were cut or shut. However, downstream ABS operations picked up from March and April and rose to high levels in May and June, driven by a demand recovery in China. India and southeast Asian AF operations also gradually picked up from May and June onwards as markets started to lift coronavirus restrictions.
The supply of ACN in Q2 was more than ample to cover the low level of demand due to the coronavirus impact in April and May. Producers cut back operating rates due to lower off-take and to avoid inventories getting too high. There were some small outages in April at one of INEOS Nitriles’ lines in Germany and in May at Turkey’s Petkim plant. Russia’s Lukoil unit was running with one reactor at 50% due to neighbouring cracker issues.
Demand plummeted in Q2 and was at its worst for ACN in May as the impact of the coronavirus hit downstream production sites. Each European country reacted differently to the coronavirus in terms of restrictions imposed. Some downstream units were completely closed and others ran at low rates. Most sectors were impacted, particularly the larger ones for ACN into the AF and automotive sectors.
Supply decreased in Q2 amid turnarounds over May and June. INEOS Nitriles’ Green Lake, Texas, plant was on a turnaround during May. Ascend Performance Materials reduced production at its largest unit, AN7, at its Chocolate Bayou, Texas, plant to 50% during a turnaround during May and June. Unigel’s Brazilian plant also indefinitely shut from March because of the coronavirus. However, the supply cuts were unable to fully offset weaker demand during the quarter.
Demand fell in Q2 amid the pandemic. Shutdowns across the key automotive sector, which uses ABS and nylon, as well as the oil and gas sector, which uses acrylamide, far outweighed short-term boosts in demand from segments aiding in coronavirus-relief efforts. Segments that did experience a short-term boost in demand included ABS for home office and medical equipment and acrylamides for the pulp and paper industry.
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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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