The Methylene Chloride report is published weekly in Asia and Europe by ICIS’ locally-based reporters. The trusted price assessments cover spot markets in both regions. Unbiased and informative market commentary includes intelligence on regional movements, upstream impacts and any relevant production issues at the time of publication as well as a wider overview.
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Updated to Q4 2020
Northeast Asian plant run rates were largely unchanged in the quarter, while production at some Chinese plants fell in December 2020 on margin considerations. Despite the lowered production, the market did not show signs of supply tightness as buyers limited their purchases amid rising prices.
Demand in the Indian market weakened, after the robust levels seen in the preceding quarter, with buyers having covered their requirements. Southeast Asian demand continued to strengthen steadily, but buyers were hesitant to stock up as prices remained on an uptrend. In the Chinese domestic market, demand strengthened slightly towards the end of 2020, but remained below levels seen prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
Supply was broadly tighter in Q4 as demand recovered compared to earlier in the year and production issues affected availability late in the quarter. Exports from China were lower because of higher feedstock prices combined with increases to freight rates. Olin additionally declared force majeure at its European plant in December, which contributed to reduced domestic supply.
Demand rose in Q4, as pharmaceutical consumption remained high and industrial output and other industries began to recover compared to the slump in the first half of the year. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has increased consumption of MEC for pharmaceutical uses, where it is used as a process solvent. In addition, the automotive outlook improved modestly in the second half of the year.
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Methylene Chloride Methodology
Methylene chloride, also known as dichloromethane or methylene dichloride, is a chlorinated hydrocarbon.
Methylene chloride, also known as dichloromethane, is a chlorinated hydrocarbon produced by the chlorination of chloromethane. Further chlorination of the mixture of chlorinated methanes results in chloroform and carbon tetrachloride being produced.
Methylene chloride’s ability to dissolve a wide range of organic compounds makes it a useful solvent for many chemical processes. It is also used as a paint stripper and metal cleaning and finishing. Other applications include aerosol propellants, foam blowing, extraction medium in food processes, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
While methylene dichloride is the least toxic of the simple chlorohydrocarbons, it has health risks due to its volatility. It is also considered to be a potential occupational carcinogen. As a result, alternatives have been sought in many applications.
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