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 2019
Supply declined during the quarter due to maintenance shutdowns at VAM plants in the region. Supply outstripped demand towards June on the completion of plant turnarounds. Sinopec also restarted a couple of previously idled plants. Anhui Wanwei Group restarted its 170,000 tonnes/year VAM plant on 15 April while Beijing Eastern Petrochemical restarted its 90,000 tonne/year No 2 VAM plant on 5 June. These plants had been idled for two and a half months and seven years, respectively.
The ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) price premium over feedstock costs incentivised most EVA producers to prioritise the production of EVA, with several South Korea-based producers focusing on EVA with a higher (vinyl acetate) content of 28% VA due to higher yields. Plant utilisation rates at an acrylic fibre (AF) plant in southeast Asia were stable at 85-90% of capacity, for the most part of the quarter.
In April, vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) import volumes were only about two-thirds of what they had been in the same month of 2018, and there were various outages around the world during the quarter. However, for the period as a whole, material continued to flow in ample quantities into the European region. Converters and traders felt no tightness of supply.
Demand remained lacklustre in the second quarter. Relatively poor weather inhibited activity in the paints and coatings sector and the economic climate proved to be less favourable than hoped for. However, the duty-free quota expired as early this year as in 2018, indicating that demand was not noticeably lower.
Production issues at three US vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plants were resolved and back online by the start of June, adding more supplies into the already stable market. While the maintenance caused some tightness in supplies at the time, these production issues, preceded by the fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Co (ITC) tank farm, did not have much of an impact on VAM prices as supply was sufficient.
There were some delays in the seasonal demand uptick for construction end-use as several parts of the US experienced longer winters and inclement weather. Demand for this sector is still in line with strong expectations. Demand is typically higher during summer months.
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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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