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 2020
Supply was balanced to tight in January, following turnarounds and outages in China in end-2019 to January 2020. Supply turned ample towards end of Q1, although Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Corp shut its unit for a one-month turnaround from early February. Despite the coronavirus outbreak in China, plant operating rates were high, against lower downstream demand. By March, deep-sea arbitrage supply to Asia was available on falling prices in the West, tracking the crude price plunge.
Spot Asian demand started the year strong following reduced supply in China end of 2019. However, as the coronavirus outbreak hit China and Asia, demand softened. Some Chinese buyers reduced contract volumes as they lowered operation rates amid supply chain disruption caused by the outbreak. Demand from key spot market India was largely stable but turned quiet following the coronavirus-related lockdown. Demand and exports of end-products were impacted by the coronavirus escalation globally.
Supply was flat for most of Q1, but decreased towards the end of the quarter as suppliers trimmed operating rates in response to the coronavirus spread. The market was also adjusting to the closure of INEOS’s Seal Sands unit in the UK which took place in December.
Demand from the acrylic fibre (AF) sector improved as the year began as output firmed from 70-80% in Q4 to 80-90% in Q1. However, demand petered out in the second-half of March as plants and factories reduced output or closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
US Q1 acrylonitrile (ACN) supply largely increased, tracking mostly healthy production heading into March amid restocking efforts across most end segments. Production increased from January to mid-March following a turnaround at INEOS’s Lima, Ohio plant that ended in November amid the year-end destocking season. Production showed signs of slowing in mid-March after crude prices plunged against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, squeezing margins and reducing demand for ACN in various end segments.
US Q1 ACN demand largely increased on the back of restocking efforts throughout most of the quarter. Demand was stronger until the March plunge in crude oil prices against the backdrop of the coronavirus. Although the virus led to a bump in demand for ACN for medical, computer and home office equipment, as well as for ore paper processing, it also began to weigh on major end-markets in the automotive and oil and gas sectors.
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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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