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Vinyl Acetate Monomer Shale Gas Induced Market Boom for Polymers

| Editor: Dominik Stephan

Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM) markets on the upswing: Emerging economies, solar power investments and the shale gas boom are all working together to fuel the demand for rubbers and polymers, a lot of which need VAM as a basic raw material, analysts found out.

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With the advent of cheap natural gas comes a new boom for VAM-based polymers, analysts state.
With the advent of cheap natural gas comes a new boom for VAM-based polymers, analysts state.
(Picture: Woodside)

The new report by GBI research looks at VAM, a raw material used in the production of synthetic rubbers and polymer resins, and its main end-uses Polyvinyl Acetate (PVAc) and Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) are used to produce paints, adhesives, paper coatings and textile treatments, packaging films and foams. EVA is also used in Photovoltaic (PV) applications, and the growth of the solar industry is promoting further growth in the VAM industry.

Growing demand in the VAM market is largely thanks to the Asia-Pacific region, in particular China, GBI believs: While demand in developed countries such as Japan has largely stabilized, the large populations and growing economies of emerging countries such as China and India mean that they have substantial consumption potential, reflected in the high growth in Chinese VAM downstream segments such as Polyvinyl Acetate (PVAc), and Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA).

Shale Gas – Raw Materials for Vinyl Acetate Galore

The increasing popularity of shale gas over recent years, particularly in the US, has had an additional positive effect on domestic production of VAM: Crude oil is a major feedstock used for the production of ethylene, which in turn is used for the production of VAM.

The percentage of ethane, which represents the VAM stream, is very high in natural gas compared to crude oil or naphtha, and the increased availability of shale gas is expected to result in a corresponding rise in the domestic production of ethylene and VAM. This will drive future export prospects, as local demand is currently being met by domestic production.

Grwoth Rate of 4% Could Be Realistic

Global demand for Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM) has been increasing steadily over the last 10 years, from 4,007,436 tons in 2000 to 5,006,705 tons in 2011, and demand is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4% in the coming years, to reach 7,103,889 tons in 2020. The Asia-Pacific region accounted for around 60% of global VAM demand in 2011, and a similar trend is expected to continue in the forecast period.

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