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 2021
The first half of Q2 saw lingering tight supply due to plant turnarounds in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China. But supply on a global basis eased towards the second half of Q2 as US VAM production continue to ramp up after the winter freeze in February, along with the completion of plant turnarounds in Asia by the end of the quarter.
Northeast Asia demand was soft as several downstream EVA plants in Taiwan, South Korea and China underwent shutdowns for maintenance and other reasons. VAM demand in China, on the other hand, was driven by the start-up of new downstream capacities namely EVA and VAE emulsion. Demand in India retreated due to a severe second wave of COVID-19 outbreak while off-take in southeast Asia slowed down as record high VAM prices could not be passed downstream.
The VAM market in Q2 was still suffering from outages as a result of the US winter storms in the Gulf in the previous quarter. Several force majeures remained in place either for most of or throughout the period. As the quarter progressed, the supply situation eased to some extent with data revealing that the drawdown against the EU duty-free import quota was beginning to speed up.
The market balance remained quite tight despite some improvement in supply in Q2 because demand also grew. This was attributed to three things: the normal seasonal increase in certain downstream sectors, a general economic upturn and a desire to replenish depleted inventories.
The freeze that occurred Texas in February caused all four US VAM producers to shut down. While each are in varying stages of restarting and ramping up to full rates, supplies remain quite limited. Much US supply is exported, and trade flows could shift as the western hemisphere is short product in comparison to the eastern hemisphere.
US VAM demand has been consistently strong in key sectors such as home construction projects and the packaging and adhesives market. April exports were 93% higher than March and 2% lower than April 2020 with more than 70% of the product going to Belgium and Mexico. Much of the US VAM market is used for export material into Mexico, South America and Europe.
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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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