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 Q2 2021
Supply stayed overall constant in Asia during Q2, as no major producers underwent turnarounds during the quarter. The disrupted logistics have constrained Asia cargoes within Asia.
Demand in southeast Asia decreased during Q2, mainly because of the worsening pandemic situation in the region. The activities in construction and automobile industry were subdued and downstream operations were limited, curbing the regional demand of MA.
The supply crunch seen in March carried through during April but receded in May slightly. June saw another tight month on the back of a maintenance turnaround that lasted nearly the entire month. However, production rates at Europe’s largest producer increased in June, alleviating the tightness slightly.
Demand did not waver from its very strong levels in Q1, and for some sectors such as unsaturated polyester resins was unprecedented. Demand was strong across all derivatives, especially from the semiconductor sub-segment and from packaging, with paper coatings and consolidated plastics among those also seeing the strong uptake.
After heavy planned and unplanned outage activity in early Q2, tightness in supply continued to persist in June. Some buyers appeared to seek non-traditional suppliers, but not all were able to get their desired level of volumes. Interest for imports rose, with some willing to pay high premiums for briquettes, but not everyone could find the means to convert briquettes into molten MA.
Demand for unsaturated polyester resins into construction, boats and RVs was robust. Boats and RVs are in high demand during the summer season. US automakers continued to adjust production schedules as the global microchip shortage persisted, with sentiment growing that the issue could extend into next year. While constrained supply and strong demand prevented major export activity, exports picked back up in late Q2.
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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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