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 2021
Supply tightness continued into Q2 as regular contract volume from the US was cut due to a force majeure. Deep-sea cargoes were largely absent due to global plant issues and tight supply. In Asia, Japan’s Asahi Kasei, South Korea’s Tongsuh Petrochemical and China’s PetroChina Jilin shut for planned maintenance. Supply improved later on as US contractual volume returned to Asia and Tongsuh Petrochemical restarted from a turnaround in June.
Demand dropped overall in Q2. With high ACN prices, the downstream AF sector cut production rates due to poor margins. Downstream ABS largely maintained its strong performance but started to slow down end-Q2. The second wave of COVID-19 infections hit India and the country came under lockdown, impacting demand. ”
Availability remained tight in Q2 but did improve slightly through May and June compared with February, March and April. Force majeure remained in place from INEOS Nitriles in Germany and Russia’s Lukoil went into a two-month planned maintenance from mid-May. Allocation rates from INEOS Nitriles for June were at 75% of minimum contract volumes due to a disruption to supply of feedstock ammonia.
Consumption in Q2 remained robust across virtually all end-user sectors. The largest user of ACN, AF, has seen players running units at 80-100%, depending on player and month. ABS players also continued to see strong offtake pushed by demand for both small appliances and the automotive industry. Aerospace has been the only sector that is underperforming due to the restrictions in different parts of the globe from the ongoing pandemic.
Supply decreased following severe weather-related disruptions throughout the supply chain in Texas and the US Gulf in mid-February ahead of planned maintenance at all three US Gulf sites in March and April. Cornerstone declared force majeure in early February following a mechanical issue and raw material shortage that limited the company’s ability to offload hydrogen cyanide, a byproduct of ACN production. Ascend and INEOS Nitriles shut and declared force majeure at their sites around mid-February.
Demand increased amid tight inventories and major shortages throughout the supply chain following the mid-February winter storm, ahead of easing pandemic-related restrictions and increasing economic activity nationwide from around March. Demand across most major end segments, including the core adiponitrile for the nylon chain and ABS boomed from around March as manufacturers looked to rebuild inventories following the storm to meet rebounding demand across consumer end markets.
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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.