Europe is expected to become a net importer of acrylonitrile (ACN) in 2020, after Ineos Nitriles closes its Seal Sands plant. At the same time, however, Asian and US markets could face downward pressure in the first half of next year, amid growing capacities in China and lackluster demand for derivative products.
Ineos said in October that it plans to close the Seal Sands plant in Teesside, in northeast England, because of high safety and environmental costs, in a move that market participants have suggested will result in a loss of just over 30% of Europe's ACN production.
Demand in the region is currently at more than 1 million mt/year, according to market sources, against output capacity of around 1.14 million mt/year. As a result, removing Seal Sands' 280,000 mt/year production would mean the region becoming dependent on imports.
However, despite a building supply glut in the Asia ACN market, longer shipping times from Asia to Europe -- compared with intra-Europe and US-to-Europe deliveries -- make Asia-Europe transactions more exposed to price volatility, according to some sources.
European ACN spot prices jumped 51% to a 2019 high of $1,890/mt CIF ARA in May-June, up from $1,250/mt earlier in the year. By the end of November, the price had fallen back to around $1,455/mt CIF ARA, according to S&P Global Platts data.