The Maleic Anhydride markets are covered weekly by ICIS in Asia, Europe and the US. Our locally based reporters gather benchmark pricing assessments for both liquid and flake/molten material. Contracts are agreed in all three regions, while spot price updates are for Asia and Europe only.
The news and market intelligence that supports any price movements, gives details on demand, supply, regional updates, upstream activity, production news and any other influencing factors at the time of publication. This universally trusted insight ensures you have the information you need to make key strategic business decisions.
Updated to Q1 2020
MA plants in China were shut for an extended period due to coronavirus-induced lockdowns, and even if production resumed incrementally in March, operatng ratios were modest due to poor downstream offtake. Elsewhere in the region, there were also planned and unplanned outages in February and March, including a closure in Malaysia on the virus-related lockdown.
Demand shrank progressively through Q1, due to coronavirus-related lockdowns, first in China, and thereafter in many other outlets across the world. With global supply chains vastly disrupted by border closures, buying interest for MA export cargoes were suppressed, and substantive usage was also low with many downstream UPR and coating factories in local markets either shut or operating at very low rates.
Supply had been tightening over Q1 due to lack of attractively priced imports from Asia up to beginning of March and an element of stock-piling as countries organised lockdowns of key sectors such as automotive and airline services and construction activities in a bid to contain the covid-19 contagion. As of March however the arbitrage to the East had reopened with some buyers expecting material to arrive mid-April. This influx, to increase in May, is likely to shift the seller market dynamic seen in the month of March.
Demand in the first half of April was still strong, with market sentiment bullish on a much more buoyant market than usual annual averages in March. This was due in part to stock-piling in response to lockdowns. Between the second and third week of April a shift in dynamic was heard with the robust stream of orders seen at the beginning of the month giving way to multiple requests for postponed deliveries and order cancellations due to additional closures or postponed re-openings of shops scheduled for after the Easter holiday.
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Maleic anhydride (MA) is derived from butane in the US. In Europe and Asia, MA is derived predominantly from butane units, although a small amount is produced by benzene units.
Maleic anhydride (MA) occurs as colourless or white crystalline flakes with strong acrid (pungent) odour. It is soluble in acetone, ether, petroleum fractions and reacts with water, evolving heat and forming MA. It also dimerises to 1,2,3,4 -cyclobutane tetracarboxylic acid dianhydride in the presence of UV light.
MA is mostly used to make unsaturated polyester resins (UPRs). UPRs are used in a wide range of applications including bathroom fixtures and automobiles.
The second-largest outlet for MA is 1,4 butanediol (BDO) and derivatives tetrahydrofuran (THF) and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL).
MA is available as liquid (molten) or solid (flake): the liquid form dominates and accounts for 90-95% of the market, which is not easily transportable.
MA is produced commercially by the oxidation of benzene or butane. The butane-based process is considered to have superior economics and is the preferred route by most producers. However, a small amount is produced by the benzene route.
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