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 Q4 2020
Spot supply of ACN in Q4 was tight owing to production cuts and plant outages, both planned and unplanned in Asia and globally. The Asahi Kasei Group largely maintained reduced run rates across production sites. South Korea’s Tongsuh Petrochemical No 4 unit experienced technical issues in November. Taekwang Industrial also experienced technical issues and underwent a turnaround. There were turnarounds at Taiwan’s China Petrochemical Development Corp, China’s Shanghai SECCO and reduced run rates at Jiangsu Sailboat.
Downstream ABS plants operated at high rates amid strong demand for home appliances. Downstream acrylic fibre plants also operated at high rates with the peak season at the start of Q4. Subsequently, the market entered the off-peak season and together with surges in ACN prices, Chinese acrylic fibre producers cut production rates significantly. Asian acrylic fibre producers tried to maintain their production rates while trying to pass on the increase in ACN prices to customers.
Supply of ACN tightened as Q4 progressed, with two force majeures declared by the end of the year. The first was from Turkey’s Petkim in November. The company had been experiencing technical issues since the plant went down for planned maintenance in July. This was followed by INEOS Nitriles in Dormagen, Germany, in December due to feedstock supply restrictions. The year ended with no spot material or allocated contract volume for some buyers.
Demand in Q4 was far stronger than many had expected. Acrylic fibre (AF) was running at around 85-90% and even beyond for some and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) also showed good demand, particularly into the small appliance sectors. Sectors such as acrylamide and carbon fibre (with the exception of aerospace) were also doing well. Despite some increased restrictions in parts of Europe from a growing number of coronavirus cases, industry continued to perform beyond many predictions.
ACN supply decreased in Q4 following planned and unplanned outages. INEOS Nitriles had a planned turnaround at its 190,000 tonnes/year US Lima, Ohio, plant during the month of October. Cornerstone Chemical had an unplanned outage at its 240,000 tonnes/year US Waggaman, Louisiana, plant in late October after Hurricane Zeta caused power outages in the area. The plant restarted in early November but remained on force majeure into early December as it rebuilt inventories.
Demand increased during the typical destocking season as downstream demand recovered from coronavirus-related downturn earlier in the year. Demand for ABS and nylon started to rebound from September as automotive demand began recovering from the pandemic. Acrylamide demand into paper processing and water treatment was stable to strong. Acrylamide demand into oil and gas applications steadily increased but remained below pre-pandemic levels. Carbon fibre demand remained below pre-pandemic levels.
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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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