Our ICIS vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) reports are published weekly in Asia, Europe and the US and provide the reader with up-to-date, independent pricing information compiled by our locally-based reporters. Spot assessments are reported in all regions, while contracts only apply to Europe and the US.
The market intelligence of news and analysis provides the reader with the tools required to carry out informed business actions. Market commentary includes details of business taking place, regional overviews, upstream movements, production data and demand/supply patterns.
Updated to Q2 2020
Major producers Dairen Chemical Corp and Celanese slashed output to 60% capacity during Q2 amid weak demand and squeezed margins. Several other plants in China and Japan underwent scheduled maintenance. But this was offset by the product flow of non-Asian supplies to northeast Asia due to limited sales outlets globally and pre-marketing activities ahead of Lotte BP’s new capacity in South Korea due online in October.
Downstream plants had to be shuttered for most of Q2 amid lockdowns and social distancing measures due to the coronavirus. Demand towards the end of Q2 recovered to around 40-50% of normal levels, with downstream plants resuming output as economies reopened from lockdowns. Demand in southeast Asia after the Eid ul-Fitr was weaker-than-expected due to reduced consumer purchasing power amid weak macroeconomic data.
There has been ample supply of VAM throughout Q2. A slow reaction to coronavirus lockdowns meant that producers did not need to reduce output at the outset of the pandemic. However, a change in circumstances necessitated decisive action to prevent the market from becoming too unbalanced, and Celanese idled its German plant in June.
There was a substantial fall in demand for VAM in Q2. There was a time lag for demand in response to the coronavirus outbreak because some converters were more concerned about the availability of raw materials, prompting them to buy stock for security. Once inventories were replenished, a slump in downstream demand took full effect in May, and there was little improvement in June.
Supplies of US VAM were in an improved state in Q2 after both planned and unplanned production issues at separate plants plagued the market in Q1, causing supplies to become very tight. For much of the quarter, supplies were readily available to meet demand, despite the uptick for VAM in early Q2. Year on year, exports for early Q2 had little change.
The coronavirus mandated lockdowns in much of the US led to increased buying of VAM for the end use paints and coatings, and packaging sectors in early Q2. An increase in DIY projects while many across the globe were staying indoors helped to boost the market. As the quarter developed, a decline in consumption was noted, particularly as economies suffered and more widespread lockdowns took place in many export regions that typically take in US product.
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Vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) is used in water-based paints, adhesives, acrylic fibres, paper coatings and non-woven binder applications.
Vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) is a colourless, volatile, flammable mobile liquid, with characteristic sweet etheral odour. Vinyl acetate is a dangerous fire and explosion hazard because it will polymerise violently when exposed to heat.
It is a key intermediate used in the making of a number of polymers and resins for adhesives, coatings, paints, films, textiles and other end-products.
The largest derivative is polyvinyl acetate (PVA) which is mainly used in adhesives as it has good adhesion properties to a number of substrates including paper, wood, plastic films and metals. Other uses for PVA include paper coatings, paints and industrial coatings.
The second largest consumer of VAM is polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) which is manufactured from PVA.
VAM is consumed in the manufacture of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and vinyl acetate ethylene (VAE).
A fast growing use of VAM is the manufacture of ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) which is used as a barrier resin in food packaging, plastic bottles and gasoline tanks, and in engineering polymers.
Other VAM derivatives include vinyl chloride-vinyl acetate copolymers which have major applications in coatings, paints and adhesives.
VAM is usually produced by the catalysed, vapour phase reaction of acetic acid with ethylene and oxygen in a fixed bed tubular reactor using a supported noble metal catalyst. The VAM is recovered by condensation and scrubbing and purified by distillation.
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