The Paraxylene-Orthoxylene (PX-OX) markets are covered by ICIS' network of locally-based reporters in Asia, Europe and the US. The weekly reports bring you in-depth news on spot on contract markets and analysis in the commentary provides intelligence on developments in market activity, upstream movements, production news and graphs.
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Paraxylene-Orthoxylene overview Transcript
Paraxylene or PX is the largest volume isomer of the mixed xylene aromatic stream. Almost all PX goes in the production of the fibre intermediate purified terephthalic acid (PTA) which is subsequently used in polyester production.
The global PX market has been generally tight with strong growth witnessed in the downstream segment. Pricing for PX is generally influence by crude futures and sentiment in the down stream markets.
Production issues can quickly lead to fluctuation in prices in Asia where trade is relatively liquid as compared to the rest of the world. Asian PX trade is largely contract based, but there is still a fairly liquid spot market. Japan and South Korea are major exporters to the world’s largest importer, China. The recent emergence of producers in the middle east could fundamentally alter trade flows.
Orthoxylene or OX is the second largest volume isomer of the mixed xylene stream. OX is typically a by-product of PX production and is typically consumed in the manufacture of phthalic anhydride (PA). Pricing for OX is generally influenced by movements in crude futures, costs of raw materials as well as sentiment in the downstream PA sector. Supply of OX is tight in Asia as makers have scaled back operating rates to maximise production of the more lucrative commodity, PX.
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Paraxylene-Orthoxylene: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2016
The European paraxylene (PX) April contract has an initial settlement at €750/tonne, up €60/tonne from March. The sentiment for the second quarter is bullish on tightening supply compared with previous months, generally recovering energy costs and firmer sentiment in Asia. If the April PX contract price is fully confirmed at €750/tonne, this will bring it back up to December levels.
There are some expectations of tightness in PX supply in the second quarter, as plants in northeast and southeast Asia undergo turnarounds. Major producers such as South Korea's SK Global Chemical, GS Caltex, Hanwha Total, as well as Japan's JX Nippon Oil and Energy will undertake turnarounds at their PX units. China's Zhenhai Petrochemical and Urumqi Petrochemical, as well as Taiwan's fcfc and Malaysia's Petronas, will also undertake turnarounds.
The US PX market could see higher prices based on increased demand. However, any increases could be offset by ample supply. PX demand tends to increase in the spring and summer, as demand for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) also increases. In the US, PX is used to make PET.
Updated to Q1 2016
The US orthoxylene (OX) market is likely to remain balanced-to-long in the first quarter, and market fundamentals remain unchanged. The US market has plenty of supply, and there has been no indication that buyers are struggling to procure material. Any price direction is likely to be a decrease.
Asian OX spot prices should remain stable-to-soft as a slowdown in the Chinese economy would cap demand for material in the overall plasticizer sector from the construction sector. Sellers are hoping that end-users will commit to pre- and post-Lunar New Year restocking activities, which would help boost spot prices.
Europe OX should remain balanced-to-long, with Asian malaise spilling over into Europe. Demand should see seasonal pick-up, though this should be matched by healthy import levels, including from Russia. Weak Asian pricing and potentially lower blend values for xylenes may put downward pressure on prices.
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Para Ortho xylene Methodology
Paraxylene (PX) is the largest volume isomer of the mixed xylenes. Around 98 percent of PX demand comes from the polyester chain via the one of its intermediatespurified terephthalic acid (PTA) or dimethyl terephthalate (DMT). The breakdown for polyester demand is 65 percent from fibre, 27 percent from polyethylene terephthalate(PET) bottle resin and the remainder from film and other plastic end uses. Polyester demand is expected to grow at six percent a year over the next few years with the PET resin bottle market seeing the fastest growth. A small amount of PX is used as a solvent and in the production of di-paraxylene and herbicides.
Paraxylene is a flammable liquid and a fire hazard. When heated to decomposition, paraxylene emits acrid smoke and fumes. Vapours may travel to a source of ignition and flash back.
Orthoxylene (OX) is the second largest of the three commercial isomers of xylene. Almost all OX produced is consumed in the manufacture of phthalic anhydride, which is converted to plasticisers, alkyd and polyester resins. Small quantities are used in solvent applications and to make bactericides, soybean herbicides and lube oil additives. It is also used to make phthalonitrile, which is converted to copper phthalocyanine, a pigment.
Orthoxylene is a flammable liquid and a fire hazard. When heated to decomposition, orthoxylene emits acrid smoke and fumes. Vapours may travel to a source of ignition and flash back.