Troika to Determine the Future of China’s Acetic Acid Industry
Year:2019 ISSUE:21
Click:130    DateTime:Nov.07,2019

By Xiao Ming


Chinese acetic acid capacity has reached 1.07 million t/a by the end of June 2019. Table 1 indicates the capacities of major producers in China.

   Table 1   Major Chinese acetic acid producers in 2019


Capacity (kt/a)

Jiangsu SOPO Corporation (Group) Ltd.

1 400

Shanghai Huayi Chemical Co., Ltd.


Anhui Huayi Chemical Co., Ltd.


Shandong Yancon Cathay Coal   Chemicals Co., Ltd.

1 100

Celanese (Nanjing) Chemical Co., Ltd.

1 200

BP YPC Acetyls Co., Ltd.


Hebei Zhongxin Chemical Co., Ltd.


Henan Shunda Chemical Technology Co., Ltd.


Shandong Hualu Hengsheng Chemical Co., Ltd.


Chongqing   Yangtze River Acetyls Co., Ltd.


Shaanxi   Yanchang Petroleum (Group) Co., Ltd.


Tianjin Bohai Chemical Industry Group Yongli Chemical   Co., Ltd.


Yunnan Yunwei Group Corp. LTD


PetroChina Daqing Petrochemical Co., Ltd.


Jilin Ji’an New Energy Group Co., Ltd.


Shanxi Coking Co., Ltd.


HNCC   Group Co., Ltd. Yima Gasification Factory


Sinopec   Great Wall Energy & Chemical (Ningxia) Co., Ltd.


Henan Yongcheng Longyu Coal Chemical Co., Ltd.


Hengli Petrochemical (Dalian) Co., Ltd.





10 710

   According to the production routes, methanol carbonylation-based capacity reached 10.2 million t/a on a year-to-date basis, accounting for about 95.24% of the domestic total, while acetaldehyde-ethanol based capacity is 510 kt/a, taking up 4.76% of the total.
   Speaking geographically, acetic acid plants were primarily located in east China, with a total capacity of 6.2 million t/a, taking up 57.89% of the domestic total. The capacity in north China was at 1.15 million t/a, occupying 10.74%; that in central China at 1.2 million t/a, taking up 11.2%; that in northwest China at 750 kt/a, occupying 7%; that in southwest China at 650 kt/a, or 6.07%; and that in northeast China at 760 kt/a, or 7.1%. Jiangsu Province had the largest acetic acid capacity over China, at 3.2 million t/a or 29.88%. Shandong Province was ranked the second, with a capacity of 1.7 million t/a or 15.87% of the total, followed by Henan Province, with a capacity of 1.2 million t/a or 11.2% of the total.
   Some plants have been equipped with downstream units. For example, Jiangsu SOPO Corporation (Group) Co., Ltd., Anhui Huayi Chemical Co., Ltd., Shandong Yancon Cathay Coal Chemicals Co., Ltd., Chongqing Yangtze River Acetyls Co., Ltd. and Henan Shunda Chemical Technology Co., Ltd. have ethyl acetate units; Celanese (Nanjing) Chemical Co., Ltd. and Sinopec Great Wall Energy & Chemical (Ningxia) Co., Ltd. have vinyl acetate units; Dalian Hengli Petrochemical has PTA units. Besides, Shandong Hualu Hengsheng Chemical Co., Ltd., Shandong Yancon Cathay Coal Chemicals Co., Ltd., Shanghai Huayi Chemical Co., Ltd., Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum (Group) Co., Ltd. and Dalian Hengli Petrochemical are equipped with commercial methanol plants.

Increasing export volumes

   Import volumes in 2018 were at 14 300 tons, a decrease of about 9.5% year on year. By contrast, exports increased. The export volume in 2018 was at 709 700 tons, an increase of about 55.2% year on year. Belgium, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and India are key destinations. In 2018, the export volumes to the five countries or regions totaled 598 300 tons, accounting for 84.30% of the total exports, an increase of about 54.92% year on year. Of the figure, the export volume to Belgium was at 122 800 tons, accounting for 17.30% of the total exports, an increase of about 713.25% year on year; the export volume to Korea at 36 900 tons, accounting for 5.20% of the total export volume, a decrease of about 13.79%; the exports to Japan at 28 100 tons, accounting for 3.96% of the total exports, up by 2.18% year on year; the exports to Taiwan at 21 000 tons, accounting for 2.96% of the total exports; the exports to India at 389 500 tons, accounting for 54.88% of the total export volume, an increase of about 29.49% year on year. The import volumes were at 6 100 tons from January to May of 2019, and export volumes were at 188 000 tons during the period, down by about 36.81% year on year.
   Jiangsu and Shanghai were major export origins in China, with the volumes reaching 616 200 tons in total in 2018, accounting for 86.83% of the total export volume, an increase of about 46.71% year on year. To be specific, Jiangsu Province's export volume was 420 500 tons, accounting for 59.25% of the total export volume, an increase of 28.79% year on year; Shanghai's export volume was 195 700 tons, accounting for 27.58% of the total exports, an increase of about 109.30% year on year.

Vinyl acetate – the key consumer of acetic acid

   Apparent consumption of acetic acid in 2018 was 6.595 million tons, an increase of about 0.71% year on year.
   Acetic acid is mainly used in the production of vinyl acetate, acetate and PTA in China. In 2018, the demand from vinyl acetate sector accounted for 21.1% of the total domestic consumption, the demand from acetic anhydride sector accounted for 9.8%, the consumption from PTA sector took up about 31.0%, the demand from chloroacetic acid sector occupied about 6.5%, the consumption from ethyl acetate about 17.4%, and the consumption from n-butyl acetate about 6.0%. With the increasing demand for acetic acid at several units of derivatives such as vinyl acetate and PTA, it is expected that China's total acetic acid demand will reach 8 million tons by 2023.

Development trend

   There will be some new construction or expansion projects in China in the coming few years, including Guangxi Huayi Energy Chemical Co., Ltd.’s 500 kt/a unit, Erdos Xinnai Energy Chemical Co., Ltd.’s 600 kt/a unit, Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum Yulin Coal Chemical Co., Ltd.’s 100 kt/a expansion project, Shandong Jiachi New Chemical Co., Ltd.’s 300 kt/a unit and Great Wall Energy & Chemical Guizhou Zhijin Coal Chemical’s 600 kt/a unit. If these projects were implemented as scheduled, it is estimated that by 2023, the total capacity of acetic acid in China will exceed 12 million t/a, turning the whole industry into a structural oversupply. Under the circumstances, the competition in the acetic acid market will become fiercer, and the profitable room will decrease further.
   Vinyl acetate, acetate and PTA will remain the troika for acetic acid consumption growth in China, whilst other derivatives will not have much increase in demand for acetic acid. Therefore, the development of the three derivatives will determine the consumption of acetic acid.
   China’s acetic acid industry should attach importance to improving product quality and reducing production costs by continuous technological innovation in the future. Meanwhile, the industry should explore new applications to extend the acetic acid industrial chain, so as to avoid the risky single product market and to serve as a solution to the capacity oversupply.