Caprolactum is an important intermediate for production of polyamide 6 fibres and Engineering Plastics. Around 70% of caprolactum is used to make polyamide fibres and remaining is used for making polyamide 6 resin for injection moulded parts and extruded films. The demand for caprolactum is directly linked to consumption of polyamide 6 resin and fibre. China is the largest market for PA 6 and therefore it is also a major consumer of caprolactum. Caprolactum imports in China peaked in year 2012 which was around 700 KT and then imports declined on the back of rise in new caprolactum capacity in China. Still China imported around 220 KT caprolactum which was mainly imported from European market last year. Major realignment can be seen in European and US market, with BASF reducing its caprolactum capacity at its Ludwigshafen, Germany site by 100 KT (Sept 2016) and Fibrant (DSM -CVC capital JV) plans to scale down its caprolactum capacity at its Augusta, US. China s focus towards self-sufficiency has forced major caprolactum and polyamide producers to realign with the market conditions. Effect of reduction in caprolactum supply was seen in spot price of caprolactum in the months of November-December last year.
Most of the Caprolactum manufacturers are in China, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Japan, India, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan.
The major players in caprolactum market are BASF SE, Fibrant (DSM-CVC capital partners JV), Lanxess, DOMO, ALPEX, AdvanSix (Formerly Honeywell), UBE Industries Ltd., Toray Industries Inc., Zaklady Azotowe Tarnowe, Grupa Azoty, Sinopec Baling Petrochemicals, Shangdong Hali, Zhejiang Juhua Co. Ltd, FACT, GSFC and Shandong Hongye Group.
The global caprolactum demand was estimated to be over 5500 Kilo tons in year 2016 which has grown at aggregate rate of 3% between 2012 and 2016. Utilization rates were around 78% in year 2016. Utilization rates declined from 90% to 78% between years 2012 to 2016 due to major capacity additions in China causing global caprolactum demand-supply imbalance and restructuring in America & European Market.