Acrylonitrile Production and Market​

Acrylonitrile
  • (Research Institute of Jilin Petrochemical Company, PetroChina, Jilin 132021 China)
  • Abstract: The paper summarizes acrylonitrile production capacity, actual output, market demand and price both at home and abroad, analyzes the actuality and development trend of acrylonitrile plants, introduces acrylonitrile research & development and technology progress and puts forward some advice for domestic acrylonitrile plants.
  • Key words: Acrylonitrile; Production; Market; Research & development

Production

In 2020, the global acrylonitrile production capacity was 7.884 million t/a, including the 260 kt/a new plant of Zhejiang Petrochemical Co., Ltd. Ineos closed its acrylonitrile plant with the production capacity of 280 kt/a in Seal Sands in Teesside, northeast England. Asahi Kasei of Japan has an acrylonitrile production capacity of 1.14 million t/a and becomes the largest acrylonitrile producer in the world. For major acrylonitrile producers and their production capacity in the world in 2020, see Table 1.

Table 1 Main acrylonitrile producers and their production capacity in the world in 2020

 

No.

Producer

Plant location

Capacity, 10 kt /a

1

Asahi Kasei Corporation

Japan, South Korea, America, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan of China

114.0

2

Ineos group

Germany, USA, UK

107.5

3

SINOPEC

China

86.0

4

PetroChina

China

70.0

5

Ascend Performance Materials LLC

U.S.A

52.2

6

JiangSu Sailboat Petrochemical Co., Ltd.

China

52.0

7

Solutia Inc.

U.S.A

49.0

8

Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corporation

China

32.0

9

Cytec

U.S.A

30.0

10

Tae Kwang

South Korea

29.0

11

China Zhejiang Petrochemical Co., Ltd

China

26.0

12

DSM

Netherlands

24.5

13

China Petrochemical Development Corporation (CPDC)

Taiwan of China

24.0

14

Cornerstone

U.S.A

24.0

15

Dia Nitrix Co Ltd

Japan

20.5

16

Luk oil

Russia

18.5

 

Other

 

29.2

 

Total

 

788.4

world's new acrylonitrile production

  •  In the next few years, the world’s acrylonitrile production giants still plan to build or expand acrylonitrile production plants.
  • For example, the joint venture of Asahi Kasei, Mitsubishi Chemical and Saudi SABIC plans to build a 200 kt/a plant in Saudi Arabia.
  • The project was originally planned to be completed and put into operation by the end of 2015, but so far any report about its completion and operation is unavailable.
  • In June 2019, Ineos Group signed an agreement with Saudi Aramco and Total Energies of France to build a 425 kt/a acrylonitrile plant in the Middle East and use Ineos’s world leading technology.
  • The project is planned to be put into operation in 2025, and will become the company’s first acrylonitrile plant in the Middle East.
  • Cornerstone plans to build a 130 kt/a acrylonitrile plant in the United States and start commercial production in 2023. The company operates an acrylonitrile plant with the capacity of 240 kt/a in Fortier, Louisiana.
  • Iranian chemical enterprises are looking for Chinese partners and plan to build a 100 kt/a acrylonitrile plant in Mahshar Petrochemical Special Economic Zone (MPSEZ), Iran. There are no other acrylonitrile producers in Iran, and the annual demand exceeds 80 kt.
  • A total of 4 acrylonitrile plants will be built  abroad in the next few years, as shown in Table 2. It is estimated that by 2025, the global acrylonitrile production capacity will reach about 11.83 million t/a.

Table 2 Proposed acrylonitrile plants abroad in the next few years

No.

Producer

Capacity, 10 kt /a

Remarks

1

Joint venture of Asahi Kasei, Mitsubishi Chemical and Saudi SABIC

20.0 (New)

Saudi Arabia

2

Joint venture of Ineos, Saudi Aramco and Total Energies of France

42.5  (New)

Middle East, completed in 2025

3

Cornerstone

13.0  (New)

USA, completed in 2023

4

Iran-China joint venture

10.0 (New)

Iran

 

Total

85.5

 

The producers in the northeast and East China very prid

  • In 2020, the total domestic acrylonitrile production capacity reached 2.47 million t/a, an increase of 260 kt over 2019;
  • the output was about 2.24 million tons, an increase of 179100 tons over 2019. The producers are mainly distributed in the northeast and East China, and there is only one set of Lanzhou Petrochemical Plant in the northwest.
  • Shanghai Secco Petrochemical Company and JiangSu Sailboat Petrochemical Co., Ltd. have their respective total acrylonitrile production capacity of 520 kt/a, ranking first in China;
  • PetroChina Jilin Petrochemical Company has the production capacity of 420 kt/a and ranks third in China. All domestic plants adopt propylene ammoxidation production process.
  •  Except Shanghai Secco Petrochemical Company, all the other plants are equipped with downstream production plants (acrylic fiber, ABS resin or nitrile rubber, etc.). For the acrylonitrile producer and their production capacity and output in China in 2020, see Table 3.

Table 3 producer and their production capacity and output in China in 2020

No.

Producer

Capacity, 10 kt /a

Output, 10 kt

Plant location

Start-up time

1

Sinopec Shanghai Secco Petrochemical Co., Ltd

52

52.65

Jinshan District, Shanghai

2015

2

JiangSu Sailboat Petrochemical Co., Ltd.

52

49.46

Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province

2015

3

Acrylonitrile Plant of PetroChina Jilin Petrochemical Company

42

41.08

Jilin City, Jilin Province

1997

4

Zhejiang Petrochemical Co., Ltd

26

13.00

Zhoushan, Zhejiang

2019

5

Sinopec Anqing Acrylic Fiber Co., Ltd

21

21.03

Anqing City, Anhui Province

2013

6

Sinopec Shandong Keluer Chemical Co., Ltd

13

12.62

Dongying City, Shandong Province

2014

7

Shandong Haijiang Chemical Co., Ltd

13

6.17

Zibo City, Shandong Province

2018

8

PetroChina Fushun Petrochemical Company

9

8.81

Fushun City, Liaoning Province

1991

9

PetroChina Daqing Petrochemical Company

8

8.38

Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province

1988

10

PetroChina Daqing Refining and chemical branch

8

8.75

Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province

1997

11

Petrochina Lanzhou Petrochemical Company

3

2.49

Lanzhou City, Gansu Province

1991

 

Total

247

224.44

 

 

  •  The 260 kt/a acrylonitrile project under construction in Phase III of JiangSu Sailboat Petrochemical Co., Ltd. is undertaken by the fifth construction company of refining and chemical engineering group. The project will be handed over on November 30, 2021.A total of 13 acrylonitrile plants will be built and planned in China in the next few years. See Table 4.

Table 4 newly built and proposed acrylonitrile plants in China in the next few years

No.

corporate name

capacity

/(10 kt · A-1)

remarks

1

Shandong Kaitai petrochemical

8 (New)

Completed in 2021

2

Sinopec Shandong Keluer Chemical Co., Ltd

13

Dongying, Shandong Province, Completed in October 2021

3

Jilin Petrochemical Company (Jieyang)

13 (New)

Jieyang, Guangdong, completed in 2022

 

Jilin Petrochemical Company (Jilin)

13

Jilin City, Jilin Province, completed in 2022

4

Nanpu

14 (New)

Luoyang, Henan Province, completed in 2021

5

Guangxi Keyuan New Material Co., Ltd

20

Proposed

6

Hainan Fine Chemical Company of CNOOC Dongfang Petrochemical Company

20 (New)

Hainan, completed in 2021

7

Bohai Ineos Chemical (Tianjin) Co., Ltd

26 (New)

Tianjin

8

Sinochem Quanzhou Petrochemical Co., Ltd

26 (New)

Quanzhou, completed in 2021

9

JiangSu Sailboat Petrochemical Co., Ltd.

26 (expanded)

Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province,  completed in 2021

10

Jinneng Technology Co., Ltd

26 (New)

Qingdao, Shandong

11

Dalian Jianye Chemical Co., Ltd

26

Located in Dalian, Liaoning

12

Shenghong Refining And Chemical (Lianyungang) Co., Ltd

26 (New)

Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, completed in 2021

13

Lianyungang Petrochemical Co., Ltd

26 (New)

Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, completed in 2021

 

Total

283

 

  •  In 2020, due to global pandemic, the demand shrank, and many plants originally planned to be completed and put into operation were not officially put into operation.
  • Therefore, these new plants will be started in 2021, including four refining and chemical integration projects, mostly in the coastal areas with ports or terminals in the Middle and East of China.
  • The raw materials and products will be mainly transported by ship, so the production cost will be greatly reduced.
  • In addition, for the export, the new plants will have great geographical advantages. In the next three years, China will see the peak of new acrylonitrile plant start-up. If all new plants are put into operation, China’s total acrylonitrile production capacity will reach 5.8 million t/a.

Acrylonitrile is mainly consumed in Asia, Europe and North America

  • It is mainly consumed in Asia, Europe and North America. Asia remains the fastest growing market driving global demand.
  • In 2020, the apparent consumption of acrylonitrile in China was about 2.4782 million ton, an increase of 146.7 kt over 2019, a year-on-year increase of 0.63%;
  • the import volume is 306.6 kt, a decrease of 24 kt over 2019; the export volume was 72.8 kt, an increase of 30 kt over 2019, a year-on-year increase of 70.1%. For the consumption of acrylonitrile in China from 2011 to 2020, see Table 5.

Table 5 Domestic it consumption from 2011 to 2020

Year

Output, 10 kt

Import, 10 kt

Export , 10 kt

Apparent consumption, 10 kt

Import dependency, %

2011

111.12

54.17

0.00

165.29

33.0

2012

115.82

55.54

0.00

171.36

32.4

2013

128.24

54.76

0.00

183.00

30.0

2014

136.67

51.79

0.00

188.64

27.5

2015

139.80

39.79

0.00

179.59

22.2

2016

185.13

30.60

0.20

215.12

13.7

2017

191.83

27.08

0.98

217.89

12.0

2018

180.36

37.00

0.49

216.87

17.1

2019

206.53

30.90

4.28

233.15

13.3

2020

224.44

30.66

7.28

247.82

12.4

Changes in imports and exports of it.

  • It  import was smaller in 2016 and 2017 than 2015.
  • On the one hand, new production capacity was released and the self-supply rate was improved.
  • On the other hand, the growth rate of downstream demand slowed down. In 2018, the increase of annual import volume was mainly due to the centralized overhaul of domestic acrylonitrile plants.
  • In 2019 and 2020, the import volume decreased again and was about 300 kt.
  • New production capacities, such as Shandong Haijiang Chemical Co., Ltd, Phase II of JiangSu Sailboat Petrochemical Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Petrochemical Co., Ltd, etc., have been released one after another, resulting in a significant increase in domestic supply. Hoever, the import volume naturally decreases due to relatively low demand growth.
  • In 2020, the import dependence of domestic acrylonitrile decreased to12.5%, 0.8% decrease over 2019.
  • From 2016 to 2020, China’s acrylonitrile export volume rose. With the continuous growth of domestic effective production capacity, the acrylonitrile industry gradually changed from supply shortage to supply sufficiency.
  • In the second half of 2019, with the smooth start-up of phase II of JiangSu Sailboat Petrochemical Co., Ltd., the domestic acrylonitrile supply turned to a weak balance.
  • In 2020, the supply exceeded the demand after the new plant of Zhejiang Petrochemical Co., Ltd was put into operation. Thus, the export volume of acrylonitrile increased significantly in 2019 and 2020.
  • For the change trend of apparent consumption of acrylonitrile from 2011 to 2020, see Fig. 1.
  • In China, acrylonitrile is used mainly for production of acrylic fiber, ABS and acrylamide, accounting for 36.7%, 34.0% and 21.1% respectively, and minorly for production of nitrile rubber, adiponitrile/hexanediamine, water resistant agent, adhesive, medicine, aprotic polar solvent, etc.
  • Weak downstream demand is still the key factor to suppress the market. As the most important downstream of acrylonitrile in China, the acrylic fiber industry had significantly shrunk demand for acrylonitrile due to the impact of pandemic.
  • The operating rate of acrylic fiber plants fluctuated slightly around 50%. Some small and medium-sized downstream plants resumed work one after another, but had small operating rate. In 2020, the total capacity of acrylic fiber in China was still 840 kt/a. The capacity has not be increased or decreased in the past three years.
Acrylonitrile
  • In addition, from 2021 to 2022, more new acrylonitrile plants were put into operation, and acrylonitrile ushered in the peak of operation again, meaning that the industry will see oversupply.
  • In 2021, the impact of the epidemic will continue due to the lack of effective control of the epidemic abroad.
  • Only China’s economy is growing rapidly in the world.
  • Therefore, the acrylonitrile consumption is expected to continue to increase to about 2.6 million tons, a year-on-year increase of about 6%.
  • The main growth point is still concentrated in ABS industry.
  • Although there is no new production capacity in the acrylic fiber industry, it is expected that the enterprise profit will be improved, the operating load of the existing manufacturers will be increased, and the acrylic fiber consumption will be increased too.
  • Acrylamide industry will grow steadily, but limitedly. It is very difficult for other downstream industries, such as nitrile and polyether,  to achieve breakthrough growth due to their small volume.
  • In recent years, domestic acrylonitrile has rapidly developed. It is expected that after 2021, with the rise of large-scale refining and chemical industry, China will become a major country in global acrylonitrile production and demand.
  • Despite the long-standing expectation of excess supply of it  in 2020, the sudden attack of the global pandemic has shrunk the demand and aggravated the oversupply.
  • Since 2020, the price of it  has continued to decline from 11000 Yuan/t at the beginning of the year to 6350 Yuan/t, a 10-year low. In addition, the manufacturers underwent deficit and lose 1000 ~ 2000 Yuan/t, which is rare in recent years.
  • Affected by the epidemic at home and abroad from January to April, the downstream demand decreased significantly, and the construction of ABS, acrylic fiber and acrylamide decreased significantly, resulting in the unilateral continuous decline of acrylonitrile price and the sharp decline of enterprise profits.
  • Thus, the lowest price 6350 Yuan/t occurred. Since May, acrylonitrile enterprises have taken measures to limit their production, and the operating rate has dropped below 60%.
  • Moreover, domestic demand has recovered, the supply and demand have been improved, and the acrylonitrile price has rebounded to the bottom.
  • In November, the price rose to 12400 Yuan/t. Although some plants were still in the maintenance in December, the trading atmosphere began to weaken with the reduction of acrylic fiber production load, and the domestic acrylonitrile market price callback occurred. As of December 31, the acrylonitrile price in East China port area fell to 12150 Yuan/t.
  • For the price trend of domestic acrylonitrile market in 2020, see Fig.2.
Acrylonitrile
  • In 2021, the new plants of Hainan Fine Chemical Company of CNOOC Dongfang Petrochemical Company, Sinochem Quanzhou Petrochemical Co., Ltd., Nanpu, Sinopec Shandong Keluer Chemical Co., Ltd, Shenghong Refining And Chemical (Lianyungang) Co., Ltd. and Lianyungang
  • Petrochemical Co., Ltd. will be put into operation successively. At that time, the domestic supply will increase significantly, and the acrylonitrile will be oversupplied in the future. The competition will be more intense, so it is difficult to greatly improve the price of acrylonitrile.

Import and Export

  • In 2020, the cumulative import volume of acrylonitrile reached 306.6 kt, the same as that in 2019, but the apparent consumption increased by 5.22% in 2020, so the import dependence decreased by 6.01%.
  • Compared with the total volume of acrylonitrile in China, the import volume of acrylonitrile has a limited impact on the market.
  • In 2020, acrylonitrile in China was mainly imported from Taiwan of China, Japan, South Korea and the United States.
  • The total acrylonitrile import of the top three accounted for 90.18%. Compared with 2019, the top three import sources have not changed, but the ranking is different.
  • The largest import source is still Taiwan of China, but the share is lower in 2020 than that in 2019. In addition, Japan surpassed South Korea and ranked second mainly because the spread of the pandemic abroad led to a sharp contraction in demand and the flow of some unsalable Japanese products into China at low prices.

Table 6 Main import sources and import volume of it in China in 2020

Country/Region

Import , 10 kt

Share, %

Taiwan ofChina

11.99

39.10

Japan

8.01

26.11

South Korea

7.66

24.98

U.S.A

2.36

7.70

Thailand

0.35

1.14

Britain

0.30

0.97

Total

30.67

100.00

  • In addition, China’s was imported from the United States, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
  • The imports from the United States had been reduced to zero since September 2018 due to the increase of tariffs, and resumed with the relaxation of tariff policies in June 2020.
  • In addition, the demand recovery in other regions except China was extremely slow due to the pandemic, thereby promoting American products to enter the Chinese market where the demand recovery was the earliest. For the import source and volume of acrylonitrile in China in 2020, see Table 6.
  • As China’s acrylonitrile export is still in its infancy, the export destinations are relatively limited.
  • In 2020, the main export destinations are South Korea, India, Thailand and Turkey, of which South Korea reached 52.6 kt, accounting for 72%, followed by India, accounting for 24%.
  • In addition, the import volume of Thailand and Turkey is less than 3 kt, accounting for less than 4%. Compared with 2019, South Korea and India have not changed in their ranking, but Thailand ranked third instead of the UAE, and no acrylonitrile products was exported to the UAE in 2020.
  • For main export destinations of acrylonitrile in China in 2020, see Table 7.

Table 7 Main export destinations of it in China in 2020

Destination

Import volume, 10 kt

Share, %

South Korea

5.26

72.23%

India

1.74

23.91%

Thailand

0.16

2.19%

Turkey

0.11

1.58%

  • As the world’s largest it consumer market, China will still be the target which global suppliers will fight for in the future. China’s acrylonitrile export will compete with foreign products, so the global competition will be more intense.

Development Trend and Suggestions

  • With the continuous development of science and technology,it industry presents several development trends:
  • (1) the propane-based acrylonitrile production line is gradually popularized;
  • (2) new catalysts are still the research topic of scholars at home and abroad;
  • (3) the plant develops into large plant;
  • (4) it’s becoming increasingly important to save energy, reduce emission and optimize the process; and
  • (5) wastewater treatment has become an important research topic.
  • Catalyst is the key to the production of acrylonitrile.
  • Many companies focus on the development of high-performance catalysts, including Shanghai Petrochemical Research Institute of Sinopec, etc.
  • The research and development focuses on low temperature, high pressure and high propylene load catalysts.
  • With the strengthening of environmental awareness, more and more attention has been paid to the environmental pollution caused by acrylonitrile production.
  • This has had an adverse impact on some acrylonitrile plants built in the early years. These producers need to invest funds to partially transform the plants and build new waste gas and wastewater treatment facilities to meet the national environmental protection requirements.
  • In addition, it is inevitable to develop low pollution or pollution-free acrylonitrile production process.
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