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 2019
Vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) supply decreased early in the quarter on reduced output in China, where average plant utilisation rates declined to 64% from a high of 80% in mid-June. A Saudi Arabian plant turnaround and reduced output at a Singapore-based plant until end-July further curtailed supply. Operating rate cuts in China prevailed towards the end of the quarter on factors such as environmental protection measures and higher yields from feedstock acetic acid.
The quarter started with buoyant demand in India as buyers were eager to lock in purchases amid price hikes driven by tight supply. The buying momentum weakened towards the end of the quarter on a lack of broad-based demand support amid the unprecedented economic slowdown in India. One buyer has opted to skip its September purchases on ample inventories and as downstream demand in the pre-Diwali festive season has yet to materialise as anticipated.
Vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) supply was mixed in the third quarter of 2019. On one hand, in July there was a 50,000 tonne addition to the 350,000 tonne duty-free quota and this helped to stimulate import volumes. On the other hand, towards the end of the period some producers began to have maintenance shutdowns, and the Russian producer commenced an outage, restricting availability from that source.
The third quarter of the year is always the strongest for consumption in downstream sectors such as paints and coatings applications. Some sellers saw good volumes but demand was generally quiet for the time of year, and viewed as lacklustre compared with 2018.
Both planned and unplanned production issues in the third quarter at two separate US vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plants caused supplies to be more limited. Despite a build-up in supplies ahead of a planned turnaround, domestic supply is widely viewed as more limited.
Demand for US exports fell as the uptick typically seen in summer months for construction end-use came to an end. There was a slower-than-normal start to this season, but demand was still in line with expectations. US exports were at a yearly low in the third quarter as global demand slowed.
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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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