Prices of acrylonitrile (ACN) in Asia may fall further as China has enough domestic supply to forego imports up to next month, market sources said on Thursday.
Spot values declined by about $150/tonne (€119/tonne) from early June to $2,250-2,300/tonne CFR (cost and freight) Asia, based on ICIS data.
Chinese traders said they would stop importing ACN through to August due to availability of lower-priced domestic ACN and weak local demand.
“We are not importing any ACN in July and August due to the poor market now in China and also we have ample domestic ACN supply, which is cheaper than import prices,” a Chinese trader said.
China is a major market for ACN producers, importing more than 25,000 tonnes of the material per month. Spot prices into China are therefore an important indicator for other Asian spot buyers.
ACN prices in the domestic Chinese market had plunged by yuan (CNY) CNY 4,000/tonne ($590/tonne) from end May to CNY 17,500/tonne ex-tank this week, ICIS data showed.
Values were down CNY500-1,000/tonne from last week, following the start-up of Jilin Petrochemical’s new 240,000 tonne/year plant in June that beefed up supply to the local market, they added.
Meanwhile, buyers in the acrylic fibre (AF) sector, the main derivative of ACN, said that ACN prices would have to fall some more for them to recover their margins.
“The AF price has fallen from $3.00/kg to $2.75/kg and our buying indication for ACN is no higher than $2,200/tonne CFR as we need to have a spread of $550-600/tonne to post any margins,” said a major AF maker.
Acrylic fibres go into clothing, home furnishings such as carpets, upholstery, cushions and blankets.
Tight global supply amid a spate of scheduled plant turnarounds and outages in Europe and Russia, as well as the exit of US producers in the ACN market, drove up ACN prices by $500/tonne from January to May.
Major Asian ACN producers insisted that spot availability was still limited in the region, given contractual commitments and the need for them to build up inventories to compensate for the shortfall in the second quarter.
“Spot availability in Asia is still limited in July and it is difficult for sellers to drop prices too much in this kind of market condition,” said an ACN producer.
Major ACN producers in Asia include Asahi Kasei, China Petrochemical Development Corporation (CPDC), Taekwang Industrials and Shanghai Secco Petrochemical Co.
Major acrylic fibre producers include Tong Hwa Acrylic Fibre, Indian Acrylics, Thai Acrylic Fibre, Varhdman Acrylics Limited, Hangzhouwan Acrylic Fibre and Jilin JiMont Fibre.