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 2019
Some producers in Asia will continue focussing on catering to domestic demand in their respective markets during the quarter. As a result, they are not keen to export cargoes into southeast Asia. Additionally, a few producers will continue to divert their cargoes to Europe, US and Middle East – where netbacks are better compared with Asia.
Some buyers said they are trying to deplete their existing inventories and may not have to procure spot volumes until end-January. Demand for downstream UPR is expected to remain lacklustre on weak consumption. As a result, MA buyers may remain on the sidelines during the quarter.
Supply is plentiful in Europe and is expected to remain at this level throughout the first quarter. There is also continued competition from overseas, with a significant increase in Chinese imports in 2018. This imbalance will impact first-quarter pricing discussions.
Demand in Europe will increase in the first quarter, but traditionally takes a few weeks to ramp up in January. Players will focus on replenishing stocks, with the supply chain empty at this point of the year. Export demand is also expected to start well in January.
The markets are largely expected to remain steady and balanced. Consumption could soften amid bearish energy and economic fundamentals. Given the US feedstock advantage for natural gas liquids (NGLs) like butane due to hydraulic fracturing of shale formations, pressure from overseas sellers will be soft.
Seasonal demand is expected to remain slow. Prices could continue to face downward pressure due to healthy production and lower values for feedstock butane. Resolution of the US-China trade dispute would improve macroeconomic conditions, and in turn improve demand growth in key downstream markets.
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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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