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 Q3 2020
Supply decreased as major producers Dairen Chemical Corporation and Celanese continued to operate at reduced capacity during the quarter. The former shut its Taiwan-based 350,000 tonne/year plant from late July to late September amid squeezed margins and languishing demand. Shipments from China were delayed due to peak flooding in Sichuan province in late August.
Downstream plant utilisation rates saw a gradual recovery as economies reopened and an improved derivative performance from the ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and adhesives sectors in northeast Asia bolstered demand. Demand in southeast Asia was patchy as restocking activity in Thailand contrasted with delayed restocking in Indonesia as a second wave of coronavirus infections weighed on sentiment.
Availability was lower in the third quarter of 2020, partly because of the continued closure of the Celanese plant in Frankfurt, Germany, but also due to outages outside Europe. These included a shutdown in Singapore but, probably most significantly, there were problems from a shutdown in Texas. These problems outside Europe came towards the end of the quarter.
The third quarter saw an unsteady rise in demand. There was a gradual disappearance of the economic slowdown arising from spring lockdowns, and this coincided with the summer, which is usually associated with strong consumption in the paints and coatings sectors. The momentum of this recovery was partially interrupted by holidays, although some suppliers said these made little difference to their sales.
Stronger feedstock pricing and global production outages have caused a spike in VAM prices globally, with many participants believing this is a more sustainable operating level from lows seen in Q2. Global and domestic production issues have limited supplies in the third quarter, which could have a trickle down impact into the fourth quarter. Logistics concerns were noticeable amid an unusually active Atlantic hurricane season that hit the Gulf Coast region.
Demand DIY projects, like painting were strong throughout Q3 as was VAM demand for packaging and adhesives with much of the western hemisphere continuing to follow stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. But year on year, exports have tapered as overall global demand is seen as weaker. Much of the US VAM market is used for export material.
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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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