The ICIS global vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) report is published weekly and covers Asia, Europe and the US. All three regions have price assessments for the spot markets within the report and there is valuable news and analysis within the commentary.
This market intelligence incluces overviews, production news, downstream and upstream movements, economic news, trade statistics and the ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) trends. Whether you are a buyer or seller, this comprehensive business tool will help you to make informed choices.
Updated to Q3 2020
Coronavirus-related concerns in the downstream PVC sector meant that VCM producers tried to keep inventory levels low. An improvement in PVC demand and scheduled VCM turnarounds saw VCM supply tighten significantly.
Construction and manufacturing activity improved after coronavirus-related restrictions were eased. This led to a recovery in demand for downstream PVC and subsequently for VCM. Demand was also seen for paste PVC which is used in the healthcare sector.
European vinyl chloride (VCM) supply fell late in Q3 as the European market tightened on the back of production issues and higher demand. Producer INOVYN’s VCM production at Rafnes, Norway was on force majeure because of a technical issue, with Spolana’s Neratovice plant additionally suffering a reactor problem which caused it to shut down. Production issues in downstream polyvinyl chloride (PVC) have also increased global demand for VCM.
European vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) demand increased in Q3 as downstream demand in the construction sector and for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) has rebounded. Consumption was reduced in Q2 because of the coronavirus-related lockdowns in Europe. With the restrictions lifted and the majority of countries in the process of recovering economically, demand has increased although spot deals remained limited because most capacity is integrated into downstream PVC production.
US supply of VCM declined on generally lower production of the derivative polymer, polyvinyl chloride, and the loss of production from Westlake Chemical’s Lake Charles, Louisiana, complex to a power outage brought by Hurricane Laura in late August. The loss of two units at the site with combined capacity of 980,000 tonnes/year prompted Westlake to declare force majeure on all of its North American PVC and VCM production.
Demand for US VCM held fairly steady supported by recovered demand by derivative PVC for construction and remodeling purposes after the coronavirus lockdowns were removed and the economy reopened. Less VCM was available for export, though, even as global demand for PVC rebounded. PVC domestic demand supported steady demand for the monomer for internal use by backward integrated producers of PVC. Most US VCM is used internally by US manufacturers of PVC.
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VCM production takes place in an integrated balanced process, comprising three units, direct chlorination, oxychlorination and ethylene dichloride (EDC) cracking.
Vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) is a colourless gas with a characteristic mild, sweet odour. A toxic and hazardous material, vinyl chloride has been classified as a group A, human carcinogen.
VCM is used almost exclusively in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) manufacture. PVC itself is highly dependent on the construction market, which reflects the ups and downs of the world economies.
With the exception of China, nearly all production is now based on ethylene, which is first reacted with chlorine to make ethylene dichloride (EDC). The EDC is then converted to VCM by thermal cracking. In China, the dominant process to make VCM is based on acetylene produced from calcium carbide which is manufactured from coal and limestone.
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