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Updated to Q1 2021
Supply in southeast Asia is expected to remain slim amid Indonesia’s Asahimas Chemical’s scheduled maintenance at its No.3 line in January. On the other hand, supply in northeast Asia may improve as operating rates at LG Chem’s VCM unit in Yeosu, South Korea return to normal, following resumed operations at the company’s upstream cracker in the same complex.
With most VCM volumes being used into the production of PVC, market fundamentals are likely to follow PVC market trends. Downstream PVC demand in China and some other Asian countries is expected to slow in early Q1 due to the week-long Lunar New Year holidays mid-February. Nevertheless, post-holiday restocking activities for both VCM and downstream PVC may recover quickly on positive economic expectations.
Supply is expected to rise in Q1, as production issues from 2020 have for the most part been resolved. INOVYN’s force majeure at Rafnes was lifted in December, and Spolana’s shutdown in the Czech Republic was also resolved earlier in Q4. A capacity expansion is scheduled by Vinnolit from 2020-2021 although no further details were available.
Demand is expected to be stable or higher in Q1. Demand in the downstream PVC market is expected to rise somewhat, as the construction industry is expected to return to growth in 2021. There will also be a seasonal boost following winter, although this is expected to be minimised due to higher than normal activity and demand during the Christmas period.
Supply is expected to grow along with greater chlorine production. Chlorine output was constrained during late 2020 on soft demand for coproduct caustic soda. Caustic soda demand is expected to continue a slow recovery, lifting the chlor-alkali operating rates and making more feedstock chlorine available for VCM production. Availability for spot business, though, is expected to remain somewhat muted as producers favour internal PVC production.
Demand is expected to stay fairly steady, alongside similarly steady demand for PVC during the winter months. Though construction activity and PVC demand will remain mostly steady, it is expected to be somewhat muted by inclement weather, possibly impeding construction activity during the early part of Q1. Seasonal demand pickup usually begins in March.
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