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 2019
The key China market saw a couple of major plant turnarounds in November 2019, which provided support for spot prices. However, the market remained balanced, as firmer prices attracted the attention of other northeast Asian sellers, who previously sold to buyers outside of Asia for better netback. However, these sellers soon stopped selling within Asia by the end of the quarter, when prices came down due to the restarts of Chinese plants.
Demand was mixed across the different Asian markets. The Indian market saw softer spot demand in the last quarter of 2019, prompting sellers to divert volumes to other markets. The southeast Asian market saw stable demand despite the year-end lull. Similarly in China, demand was stronger than expected, likely due to stocking up activities ahead of the earlier-than-usual Lunar New Year celebrations in late-January 2020.
European methylene chloride (MEC) availability tightened in the fourth quarter because of production issues. Producer Nouryon suffered a force majeure on MEC in late November, which limited its ability to supply customers. This trend was counterbalanced by limited demand because of seasonal trends, which meant that there were few price changes despite the decreased availability. Other European producers also retained their usual output during the quarter.
MEC demand was lower in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to earlier in the year, due to seasonal trends. Buyers are typically more reluctant to buy large quantities in the second half of Q4 as most aim to reduce their stock positions at the end of the year. In addition, the weak and uncertain European economic outlook, particularly in Germany, which suffered a near-recession in the previous quarter, reduced activity in downstream industries.
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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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