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
Market sentiment for maleic anhydride (MA) started off weak on low downstream off-take in the unsaturated polyester resins (UPR) sector. Some suppliers slashed prices to offload their cargoes. But MA saw tight supply due to issues with key producer TPCC’s MA plant. Prices saw a reversal when feedstock benzene and butane prices increased too.
Demand for MA was largely sluggish at the start of the year. Most customers were buying as needed. China’s downstream UPR plants were heard to be operating at below 50%. Prices rose amid tight supply due to issues with key producer TPCC’s MA plant.
Supply was plentiful for maleic anhydride (MA) in Europe to start the quarter, but started tightening in second half due to a series of production issues. Polynt had to shut its Ravenna, Italy unit due to unexpected issues, resulting in a force majeure declaration. Hungary’s MOL had an unexpected three-week outage in March. There was also supply constraints at Bosnia’s GIKIL until 2 March.
Demand was somewhat subdued and only started showing signs of improvement in second half of March. Due to tightened supply of feedstock butane, the market was balanced throughout most of the first quarter, and consequently prices kept stable. Price increases of feedstocks butane and benzene in January and February started trickling into MA spot market prices end of March.
US maleic anhydride (MA) supply was steady as product was available during the off-peak season. There were no production issues. As a result, prices flattened out amid a lack of volatility from supply or feedstocks. The market continues to monitor and discuss INEOS Enterprises’ acquisition of the chemical intermediates business of Flint Hills Resources, known as Flint Hills Resources Joliet. INEOS Joliet will manufacture MA and other products at its facility near Chicago, Illinois.
Demand from downstream unsaturated polyester resins (UPR) and other sectors was seasonally soft due to slower activity in housing and construction. Feedstock butane costs moderated toward the end of Q1 as warmer weather reduced demand for home heating products. INEOS Enterprises’ acquisition of Ashland’s Composites division is expected to close in 2Q, subject to regulatory approvals.
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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.