In 2011, the severest impact on the global methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) industry is nothing but the sharp drop in MEK supply in the wake of the Japanese Earthquake. The 170-kiloton/year facilities of Maruzen (Japan), the world’s largest MEK manufacturer, halted production. Furthermore, the other two Japanese MEK peers also temporarily suspended production. The reduced capacity of the three accounted for close to 20% of the global total. The fall in supply caused the price hike of MEK in the international market, from US$1,700/ton before the Earthquake to US$3,600/ton in April 2011.
As a sort of environment-friendly solvent, MEK has increasingly found application in medium and high-end fields to substitute for triphenyl solvent. The demand for MEK ever grows, mainly from the largest consumer China. From 2001 to 2010, the demand for MEK in China presented an AAGR of 11.5%, and it is expected that the demand will be in excess of 430 kilotons per annum in 2012.
With the improvement of MEK production technology and the rise in its output, China has reined in its reliance on imports. China’s MEK output climbed from 40 kilotons in 2002 to 335 kilotons in 2010, with an AAGR of 30.3%. The capacity reduction caused by Japanese Earthquake also led to the rise in the export of Chinese MEK manufacturers. In Jan-Aug 2011, the MEK export volume of China reached 66.7 kilotons, up 124% YoY, and it is expected to soar to 100 kilotons in 2011.
This report not only highlights the supply & demand and competition in MEK industry in China and beyond, but focuses on six world’s leading MEK companies like Maruzen, Celanese (America) and Royal Dutch Shell (Holland) and eight Chinese counterparts such as Qixiang Tengda, TianLi High & New Tech and Fushun Petrochemical.
Among MEK manufacturers worldwide, Maruzen holds the largest capacity of 170 kilotons; while among Chinese MEK producers, Qixiang Tengda ranks first in China and second in the world with 140 kilotons. In 2010, the MEK output of Qixiang Tengda registered 133 kilotons with a 39.7% share of national total; followed by Lanzhou Petrochemical with 42 kilotons sharing 12.5%.
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