03 March 1997 00:00 [Source: ACN]
THE restart of Mitsubishi Chemical's QTA plant is alleviating some of the tightness in the purified terephthalic acid (PTA) market, and spot activity is picking up.
The QTA plant had reached commercial production by 10 February, a company source said. Feeding started on 7 February after the go-ahead from local safety authorities was received. The 220 000 tonne/year plant in Matsuyama, Japan, had been damaged in a fire at the end of August last year.
Mitsubishi sources played down the impact of the restart. QTA can only be used by a limited number of PTA end-users, they said. QTA, which is made by a one-step Mitsubishi Chemical process, is less pure than PTA.###1290###
However, the renewed supply of QTA means Mitsubishi Chemical will not be buying to cover the outage and will be able to increase its contract volumes.
Buyers are hoping the April startup of ICI's 450 000 tonne/year PTA expansion in Taiwan will help moderate PTA price increases.
Prices for spot PTA are at US$580/tonne cfr Asia. Producers in China, South Korea and Thailand are now offering spot shipments. The spot market has been very quiet since December last year when prices climbed to US$600/tonne cfr Asia.
Buyers have not fully accepted price hikes for Q1 contracts, but prices are on the way up.
Major producers have announced a list price for January and February of US$572/tonne cfr Taiwan and US$579/tonne cfr Taiwan for March.
Japanese producers said they have concluded Q1 contracts with buyers at US$600-610/tonne cfr India. But most buyers said contracts were still being negotiated, and offers were still too high.
PTA producers are planning further hikes for Q2, but it is unclear if polyester markets will keep supporting increases. Polyester producers reported high operating rates in Asia. Polyester prices have edged up to US$800/tonne for textile-grade chips and operating rates were reported at 100% or higher.
However, polyester producers are worried high production levels could lead to another collapse of polyester prices.
For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.
Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.
Asian Chemical Connections