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NWE acetic acid could rise further on strong methanol

Rising feedstock methanol, restarts of derivatives plants in Europe and stronger global markets are setting a relatively bullish stage for European acetic acid, sources said this week. 

The acetic acid spot price was last assessed at Eur500/mt (about $529/mt) FD NWE last week, back at the levels seen in August and up Eur20/mt from October. 

"There is a suggestion of an increase -- for example, Celanese announced a Eur40/mt increase. I am not suggesting that they will necessarily achieve it, but there may be some pressure on the back of methanol and the rise in Asian acetic acid," a derivatives producer said. 

A second source said that he saw the price around Eur520/mt, indicating that higher prices are circulating the market. 

A third source said Thursday, however, that there had been "no effect" on prices yet. 

"It needs time for others to take the decision [of accepting the increase in offers]," the source said, adding that December was "not a busy month" and that the market will have to wait until the end of the month to see whether the price rise will be accepted. 

The methanol spot price in Europe soared this month amid tighter global markets. It reached a month-to-date high of Eur271/mt FOB Rotterdam Monday, up 20% from the start of the month and 9.3% above the fourth quarter contract price. 

Although the methanol price has since eased to Eur264/mt FD NWE Wednesday, they remain higher than earlier in the year. In Q2-Q3 there was a relative lack of volatility in methanol prices, with the prices hovering around low Eur200s/mt levels. 

Global acetic acid prices are also rising, with CFR Far East Asia assessed at $400/mt Thursday, 18% higher than at the start of October. 

Downstream, PKN Orlen's purified terephthalic acid plant in Plock, Poland, has come back online after an outage earlier in the month. It remains unclear whether BASF's butyl acetate plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany, has resumed operations -- output of a number of products has been disrupted following an explosion at the Ludwigshafen site on October 17. A company spokesman said that the force majeure on butac supplies remains in place.

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