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Maleic anhydride markets globally have been subject to wide swings since Covid-19 was unleashed on the world little over three years ago.

Even with a worldwide pandemic in full flow in H2 2021, Asian prices peaked in 2021 and got close to that record high early in 2022 before entering their current descent.

The US maleic anhydride market 'exceptional' in 2021 was expected to have slowed year-on-year by the close of 2022. Europe, with its rising energy costs and trade disrupted by the competitiveness of Asian imports, remains on tenterhooks as plants continue to drop operating rates and struggle to survive the current economic climate. 

Free whitepaper download:

Maleic anhydride markets: Where are they headed in 2023?

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Changing fortunes

Major MA producers were said to be operating at lower rates during Q4 2022 and it is likely they will continue with that strategy for Q120 23 due to lower demand in the market. In China however – and likely driven by the trend for high prices and healthy demand in recent years – a number of new maleic anhydride (MA) projects are lined up to start up in China in 2023. In fact, as the graph below shows, new capacities are set to emerge in multiple regions this year and in Southeast Asia and China next year too. The precise nameplate capacities of these projects is revealed in our free-to-download white paper Maleic anhydride markets: Where are they headed in 2023?

'...the so-called ‘revenge spending/consuming’ did not happen as soon as China opened up...'

Kaiyin Hu, Tecnon OrbiChem consultant

How these new capacities will impact global supply and demand dynamics and prices in Asia, the US and Europe will continue to be closely monitored by Tecnon OrbiChem consultant Kaiyin Hu. 

Raised within China but now based in Europe, Hu notes in the white paper that 'the so-called ‘revenge spending/consuming’ did not happen as soon as China opened up, but rather people are either scared to go out, or too sick to go out'.

A bar chart showing maleic anhydride capacity additions regionally to 2025.

Source: Tecnon OrbiChem

Feedstock variations

Both butane and benzene-based MA production rates came under increased scrutiny in China in 2022, with some shutdowns already occurring and others under consideration. The white paper reveals which feedstock was most impacted up to the end of 2022. 

The line graph below shows butane and maleic anhydride prices and how the latter's price was inflated during 2022 considering the cost of its key raw material. What will maleic anhydride prices do in 2023? Find out in our free-to-download white paper. 

A line graph comparing butane and maleic anhydride prices demonstrates the latter's inflated price.Source: Tecnon OrbiChem

Russian roulette

Russia's petrochemicals company Sibur was behind one of the global capacity increases for MA in 2022, with the producer keen to branch out into European markets. Russia's ongoing attempt to illegally annex Ukrainian territories is disrupting the company's bid to penetrate non-domestic MA markets. The situation with exports of Russian produce is not as clear cut as a blanket ban as Hu explores in her white paper. 

In the US, 2022 MA markets were very much tilted in sellers' favour. Is that trend likely to extend into 2023? The answer along with hidden values in the above graphs and more commentary and data-driven insight can be found in our free-to-download white paper.

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