26 February 2007 00:00 [Source: ICB]
Producers report a good year in 2006, with steady demand in a tight market. Planned and unplanned shutdowns kept supply restricted throughout the year, helping to drive up prices and improve margins for suppliers. Demand has remained healthy in early 2007, and availability, although still snug, has improved. However, more planned outages from April/May could tighten the market again. There has been a lack of imports from Asia and South America, mainly due to higher prices. Some exports are reported to North Africa.
BASF closed its plant at Feluy, Belgium, in 2005. In May 2006, Krasitel restarted its plant after a year's outage. Kemiplas' Hungarian plant was due back up last month, following a nine-month outage after a catalyst change. Lonza has put its polymer intermediates business into new entity, Polynt.
In Europe, contracts are either settled on a formula relating to orthoxylene (OX) feedstock, or are freely negotiated. February contracts rose by €20/tonne to €1,100-1,180/tonne FD NWE for liquid and flake, following the OX increase. Spot prices held steady, with business between €1,230-1,280/tonne. Prices in Asia and the US have also increased this month. Southeast Asian cargoes sold at $40/tonne higher mid-month at $1,220-1,240/tonne CFR, and US contracts rose by 4 cents/lb to 59.50-64.50 cents/lb.
The dominant route via OX has largely superseded naphthalene-based technology, which accounts for about 16% of production. OX is catalytically oxidised in a fixed-bed reactor and the reactor effluent containing PA vapours is cooled and sublimated in condensers. The crude PA is purified in a vacuum distillation system and the product is either stored in a molten state or bagged as flakes.
There has been little change in process technology, although research continues to focus on catalyst improvements. One development has been the lowering of air to OX weight ratio, which is now 9.5:1, and allows lower capital costs and energy savings.
PA is a white, crystalline solid or clear, molten liquid. It is combustible and dust may form explosive mixtures with air. PA reacts with moisture to form phthalic acid, which corrodes metals. It irritates the eyes, nose and skin, and is harmful if swallowed or inhaled.
Demand growth in Europe is put at 2-3%/year. This will be mainly driven by rising consumption in central and east European markets, notably from the construction sector. Demand in northwest Europe will remain low but stable. The shift continues away from DOP and into alternatives such as diisononyl phthalate (DINP) and other C10 plasticisers.
Spending is focused on the growing markets of Asia, mainly China. A 40,000 tonnes/year plant will start up in Iran at the end of 2007
|Angarsk Petrochemical||Angarsk, Russia||15|
|Atmosa Petrochemie||Schwechat, Austria||50|
|Avdeevka By-product Coke Plant||Avdeevka, Ukraine||25|
|Destilacija Teslic||Teslic, Boznia-Herzegovina||16|
|Deza||Valasske Mezirici, Slovakia||35|
|JSC Ural Chemical||Nizhniy Tagil, Russia||7|
|Oltchim||Rimnicu Vilcea, Romania||20|
|Perstorp Oxo||Nol, Sweden||35|
|Polymer Pack||Omsk, Russia||40|
|Polynt||San Giovanni Valdarno, Italy||30|
|VFT Belgium||Zelzate, Belgium||20|
|West-Siberian Steel||Novokuznetsk, Russia||10|
|ZA Kedzierzyn||Kedzierzyn, Poland||24|
Profile last published 13 October 2003
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