FocusIndia polyester makers rush to import PTA on domestic shortage

06 July 2012 06:27  [Source: ICIS news]

By Becky Zhang

India polyester makers rush for PTA supply on domestic shortageSINGAPORE (ICIS)--India’s polyester makers are scrambling for imports of feedstock purified terephthalic acid (PTA) to plug a shortfall in domestic supply as three major facilities with a combined capacity of almost 2m tonnes/year shut production mid-week, market sources said on Friday.

The current bid-offer range for PTA is up 8-9% from the previous week, they said.

Most buying indications for imported PTA are at $1,010-1,020/tonne (€818-826/tonne) CFR (cost & freight) India, and countered by a few offers at around $1,040-1,050/tonne CFR India, market sources said.

“Local PTA supply has been tightened significantly this week, while demand is improving,” a major polyester maker said.

India has entered its peak polyester demand season in July-August ahead of the country’s major holidays in September-October, he added.

“We are in discussions with Indian buyers on the possibility of exporting some Chinese PTA,” said the largest PTA producer in China.

But shipping cargoes takes at least three weeks to reach India, that by the time the shipments came, production may have gone back to normal at shut production facilities, industry sources said.

Currently, three of India’s major PTA plants that account for more than half of India's total domestic capacity are not in operation.

On July 4, Indian Oil Corp’s (IOC) sole 550,000 tonne/year PTA plant at Panipat was taken off line for around 10 days of maintenance for catalyst change, a company source said.

Reliance Industries’ 640,000 tonne/year No 3 PTA plant in Hazira was also shut on the same day for minor maintenance. The plant expected to be down until 7 July, a company source said.

In Haldia, Japanese producer Mitsubishi Chemical had encountered mechanical problems while in the process of restarting its 800,000 tonne/year PTA plant at the site, also on Wednesday. The plant is expected to remain shut for at least a month, according to a source close to the company.

The Japanese firm shut the unit in the last week of June because of poor margins and initially planned to restart the unit on 4 July, the source said.

Mitsubishi Chemical was not immediately available for comments.

Reliance, IOC and Mitsubishi Chemical are the three PTA producers in India with a combined PTA capacity of 3.76m tonnes/year.

A strong uptrend in crude futures and in China’s PTA spot prices, as well as the rapid appreciation of the Indian rupee, in the past week did good in boosting buying sentiment, a major Indian PTA producer said.

But spot availability of PTA from northeast and southeast of Asia is currently limited amid cutbacks in production at facilities because of margin losses, a regional trader said.

PTA plants in Asia ex-China and India are currently operating at an average of 80-85%, industry sources said.

“We don’t have extra cargoes to sell as it is already tough for us to meet contract requirement,” said a South Korea PTA producer.

This was echoed by two Taiwanese producers and one Thai producer.

($1 = €0.81)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

By: Becky Zhang
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