For the Quarter Ending June 2021
Acetylene demand in North America remained stable this quarter, backed by improved consumption from the domestic downstream sectors. Post pandemic and winter devastation recovery, production from most of the downstream sectors increased which eventually surged the demand for Acetylene. Prices-maintained stability throughout the quarter, however some fluctuations were witnessed due to the transportation glitches in USA. In addition, demand for Calcium Carbide based Acetylene remained low throughout the quarter in USA in the meantime.
Acetylene prices rose effectively during this quarter across APAC region, supported by improvement in the demand from the downstream sectors in some Asian countries. In China, prices of Acetylene remained firm from domestic PVC segment, whose demand was bolstered by significant revival in economic activities in the country. While in India, prices climbed up effectively, taking support from curtailed production activities amid halted trading activities under pandemic mayhem. Therefore, prices of Acetylene improved from USD 3594/MT to USD 3762/MT during this quarter in India.
European market experienced firm demand for Acetylene gas from industrial gases segment, while the availability remained enough to satisfy the overall requirement. However, prices underwent a prominent hike, taking support from the global market. In addition, inflation and rising freight cost also impacted the overall price trend of Acetylene in Europe during this timeframe.
For the Quarter Ending March 2021
Acetylene production in North America usually depends upon the availability of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) across the region. After the devastating winter storm, approximately 7.4% of total LNG output was disrupted, this created a situation of a critical shortage in the region. Meanwhile, demand from downstream BDO (Butanediol) remained very high, thus raising the prices of Acetylene during the quarter. Price hike in Acetylene cylinders was also heard from major regional players, which contributed to the overall increment in the Acetylene export prices.
Demand for Acetylene in the Asian market remained mild to firm from downstream metal fabrication and BDO manufacturing segments, during Q1 2021. Chinese lunar holidays temporarily reduced the overall production output from China. However, several traders already kept their stocks high in advance to compensate with upcoming shortage. Despite of the advance stock’s accumulation, prices rose significantly in the Asian market during February. In line, Indian market witnessed a rise of 5.22% in dissolved Acetylene prices in January-March timeframe, prices settled at USD 4265.2 per MT in March 2021.
Like other regions, Europe also faced severe shortage of Acetylene to produce downstream chemicals like BDO and THF. The shortage was driven by lower imports from USA, as their own regional availability was running low due to lower domestic output. This led the prices to seek an upward trend. Besides, skyrocketing prices of shipping containers and freight cost also efficiently contributed to push up the prices of Acetylene across the region.
For the Quarter Ending September 2020
The Asian Acetylene sales showed volume improvement versus Q2 but maintained levels below the pre-COVID era. Higher margins due to pressured raw material could partially offset the decline in the producer’s margins. Resilient demand for the oxyacetylene cylinders as the construction activity clawed back from deep contractions faced in the previous quarter. However, major plant turnarounds heard at some Chinese Acetylene-based PVC plants pressured the demand patterns, meaning limited offtakes and subdued offers observed across the region. In China, FOB prices were well around USD 11000 per tonne in the second and third quarters and are expected to remain in this range in H2 2020 due to nearly stable market outlook.
Acetylene demand in the America’s remained dampened during Q3 2020. Operations at the BASF's Geismar, Louisiana, petrochemical plant remained affected by the production outages caused due to Hurricane Laura, although with limited impact over the overall margins. The company’s Geismar Acetylene site holds the capacity of 130 tonnes per annum. The US industrial gas sector saw a mixed QoQ performance, driven by gradual shift in the demand for the medical gases such as Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide. However, demand for the dissolved Acetylene and other industrial gases remained subdued under the suppressed sales of welding hardgoods. Some anticipate the Acetylene growth to flatten out in both the Americas and Europe sequentially as surging COVID cases continue to weigh over the market activity.
COVID-19 pandemic hard hit the European Acetylene demand in Q2 and Q3 with a significant fall observed in the amount of in-person trade. As the majority population stayed at home under the pandemic-induced recession, limited Acetylene requirements were heard for metal cutting and construction projects. Players observed a pronounced drop in demands from the western Europe where the lockdown had been longer and more restrictive than in central, Eastern and Northern Europe. Demand for oxyacetylene from the civil infrastructure however remained a sweet spot in the eastern Europe. Some supply constraints surfaced as the leading producers announced maintenance turnarounds by the end of the third quarter to balance their inventories.