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 Q4 2020
Supply remained short on the back of reduced output at plants belonging to major producers Dairen Chemical Corporation and Celanese. This exacerbated the supply imbalance stemming from reduced exports from China. China exported 20,399 tonnes of VAM in October and November 2020, 36% less than the 32,186 tonnes exported during the same months a year ago. Sinopec Sichuan Vinylon in early December reduced output at its VAM plants, owing to feedstock natural gas shortage during the winter heating season.
Demand remained bolstered by restocking activities in India, stable demand in southeast Asia, and robust demand from the downstream ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) sector in China. China imported around 68% more VAM in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter a year ago, while November saw an almost 89% year-on-year increase in imports at 34,712 tonnes.
Production outages around the world reduced supply to the VAM market in Q4. The Celanese plant in Frankfurt, had reopened, partly compensating for the reduction from other sources. Production issues in US plants continued to have some effect on the European theatre, but more of a squeeze was felt towards quarter-end as Asian increasing demand competed with the requirements of European consumers.
In Q4 there was a continuation of the recovery in demand that got under way in the summer. This reflected an increasingly healthy economic background that extended into areas, such as the automotive industry, that had lagged behind. A mild start to the winter also helped in sustaining activity in the construction sector, thus benefiting usage of paints and coatings and adhesives.
Global and domestic production issues limited supplies in Q4, which could have a trickle down impact into the start of 2021. Increased lead time for the product due to tightness in carrier availability and sales control were seen by two separate producers late in 2020. There was no indication on how long this tightness would last.
Demand for do-it-yourself projects such as painting continued to hold steady through Q4 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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