SAN ANTONIO (ICIS)--Global nylon 6,6 supply is expected to remain fragile in the short term but the market will balance out, and possibly move into oversupply, over the long term amid ongoing and expected feedstock adiponitrile (ADN) expansions.
Nylon 6,6 demand has slowed down in Asia and Europe amid uncertainty surrounding slowed economic growth and languishing automotive demand.
Some countries in Europe are even in a "technical recession," one source said on the sidelines of this year’s International Petrochemical Conference (IPC).
New auto sales have fallen, and market participants have largely adopted a wait-and-see stance ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections in late May, after which automotive regulations may change.
"There is a dilemma," said one source, because cars with lower or zero emissions are significantly more expensive than traditional cars that run on gasoline or diesel, despite tax incentives imposed to encourage the alternative.
Weaker demand and improving production have thus begun to push the nylon 6,6 market toward balance in the short term, following a 2018 characterised by important ADN supply shortages.
"2018 was an exceptional year," said a producer.
In the long term, ADN is expected to grow long amid ongoing debottlenecking efforts and capacity expansions in the global market.
Ascend and INVISTA are both debottlenecking their US plants, and INVISTA is currently undergoing plans to build a world-scale 400,000 tonne/year ADN plant in Shanghai, China, expected to start up in 2022.
As such, in the long term the market is likely reverse direction and move into oversupply.
In the meantime, however, the market is fragile, with unexpected supply disruptions capable of quickly pushing the market back into the severe global tightness seen in 2018.
Nylon 6,6, also called polyamide 6,6, is mainly used in engineering plastics and industrial filament applications. Nylon 6,6 is a general-purpose extruded grade engineering resin and it is used for car parts in the automotive industry.
Hosted by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the IPC takes place on 24-26 March in San Antonio, Texas.
Pictured: Lower demand from the automobile
industry in Europe and Asia has affected nylon
Picture source: Mode/REX/Shutterstock
Focus article by Lucas Hall