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 Q1 2019
Supply is set to increase in February as plants in China and southeast Asia resume production. Sinopec Sichuan Vinylon’s VAM plant is due to restart by early February on a recovery of upstream gas feedstock for VAM production. Celanese is scheduled to restart its Singapore-based plant by end January after a month-long shutdown. However, the peak turnaround season starts in March and April.
The first quarter typically sees weak demand from the downstream adhesives sector in India as well as in northeast Asia. VAM consumption from the downstream ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) sector, on the other hand, is likely to be boosted in the new year. Unstable outlook in the co-product low density polyethylene (LDPE) sector may prompt swing EVA/LDPE producers in Asia to focus on EVA production instead.
No major change in supply is forecast by players for the opening quarter of 2019, although there are signs that material could become more plentiful in the earlier part of the year. In the first place, the annual suspension of EU import duty for a quota of 350,000 tonnes encourages suppliers to take on more stocks because it is 5.5% cheaper. Secondly, Celanese has recently completed an extensive programme of capacity expansion at its Clear Lake site in the US, which could mean rather more ample supply for Europe.
There is an expectation that demand for VAM in Europe will begin to pick up after a sluggish end to 2018 and start to 2019. Potentially lower prices in the contract sector as well as for spot material could provide a stimulus for renewed buying interest, along with a probable recovery in the paints and coatings sector towards the spring.
The US vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) market begins 2019 with the first new capacity in that market in this century. Celanese’s addition of 150,000 tonnes/year at the Clear Lake unit will shift the US to being slightly long on VAM. Three US VAM plants will go through turnarounds during the first quarter of 2019.
With demand healthy, prices could spike higher during the quarter as turnarounds begin, though producers usually store up for those events. Another factor to consider is oil prices, which usually rise in the first quarter, could pull up petrochemical values across the board and VAM feedstocks methanol and acetic acid as well.
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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.
Ethylene vinyl acetate