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 2019
Supply decreased at the start of the quarter due to a spate of planned and unplanned plant outages in northeast and southeast Asia. A combination of prolonged maintenance shutdowns and outages partly due to environmental protection measures in China further reduced average operating rates to below 60% of capacity in November. Output in China recovered by the end of the quarter.
The quarter generally saw poor performance in the downstream manufacturing sectors across several industries such as polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH), adhesives, acrylic fibre and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) sectors following a slowdown in consumer demand. In India, some VAM users reduced their output after the Diwali holidays in late October, through to the end of the year – in line with seasonal patterns.
Vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) supply fell in the fourth quarter of 2019. This was mainly down to two large-scale outages during the period. The first was a planned but prolonged turnaround at LyondellBasell’s plant in Texas, and the second was an unplanned outage at Celanese’s acetyls plant, also in Texas. A Russian plant, which remained off line during the fourth quarter, also contributed to the relative tightness, especially in the spot market.
The European VAM market remained lacklustre in the final quarter of 2019 in comparison with the previous year, although 2018 was a particularly strong year for most sectors. Demand did not fall markedly during the period, but was clearly not robust; otherwise the market would have been noticeably tighter because of the supply constraints.
Planned and unplanned production shutdowns in Q3 at two separate US vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plants led to tight supply throughout the fourth quarter. Despite a build-up in supply ahead of a planned turnaround, domestic supply is widely viewed as limited.
Demand for US exports has declined as is typical in the fourth quarter and heading into the year’s end. Less product availability from the US contributed to a slowdown in US exports. After reaching a yearly high in August, US VAM exports declined by nearly half in the fourth quarter. Belgium remains the largest importer of US product.
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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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