Shutdowns tighten Latin American OX outlook

21 February 2006 22:08  [Source: ICIS news]

BUENOS AIRES (ICIS news)--The outlook for orthoxylene (OX) supply in Latin America throughout the first half of 2006 remained snug on Tuesday due to local maintenance shutdowns, which raised the possibility of additional OX imports from the US Gulf or Europe into the region.

In Mexico, a month-long maintenance shutdown at Pemex Petroquimica’s 55,000 tonne/year facility at La Cangrejera, Veracruz, during February was progressing smoothly, according to a company spokesperson.

La Cangrejera’s shutdown triggered a spot purchase involving 2,000-3,000 tonne OX shipped from the US Gulf to East Coast Mexico in late January to early February.

In Colombia, Ecopetrol recently told clients its 35,000 tonne/year Barrancabermeja facility was scheduled for a 20-day maintenance shutdown in May. A local customer was preparing to explore foreign alternatives to cover a supply gap during the shutdown. Colombian OX buyers have historically relied on US Gulf or Venezuelan material to supplement domestic supply.

Meanwhile, a South American aromatics trader said Pequiven’s El Palito refinery in Venezuela was not producing OX. The facility had been expected to restart gradually as of 15 November, following a 50-day, scheduled maintenance shutdown. Pequiven sources were unavailable for comment.

Annual OX capacity at the El Palito facility stands at 48,000 tonne, according to statistics published by the Asociación Petroquimica y Quimíca Latinoamericana (APLA).

OX is a feedstock for the production of phthalic anhydride, which goes into the plasticisers market. With combined nameplate capacity totaling over 130,000 tonne/year, Braskem and Petroquimica Uniao in Brazil are the largest regional OX producers.

By: Edson Jones
+1 713 525 2653

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