Paraxylene-Orthoxylene Prices, markets & analysis
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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
In Asia, new capacities coming on stream in 2014 are likely to exert a downward pressure on paraxylene (PX) prices amid weak market conditions in the downstream purified terephthalic acid (PTA) sectors.
Around 1.95m tonnes/year of new PX capacities will commence commercial operations in the first quarter.
Potential price downsides are foreseen if downstream demand is not able to keep pace with the PX expansions this year.
The overall market outlook for PX Asian markets remain largely pessimistic as downstream PTA makers are unable to operate at full capacity, curbing buying interest for PX spot cargoes.
Both the US and Europe PX markets will continue to take cues in terms of pricing and sentiment from the dominant Asia market.
US PX contract pricing is expected to trend steady or slightly up in the near term, following movement in raw material prices. The US PX market remains long and demand soft, which is not expected to change.
Downstream sentiment in Europe is still weak, with no significant upturn expected. PET will stay on the long side despite some plant closures, and this will also weigh down on pricing as the year unfolds.
US orthoxylene (OX) contract pricing could be challenged moving forward as market feedback points to an end to US mixed xylenes (MX) contract price settlement. US OX contract prices are typically influenced by contract price trends in US MX because they come out of the same gasoline stream. Moving forward, it remains to be seen how market participants will form a foundation for their OX contract negotiations. Similar to PX, OX remains long and demand is flat.
There has so far been no clear indication of market direction and sentiment in the European OX market, with uncertain downstream demand counteracted by balanced availability overall. The market remained balanced throughout the fourth quarter of 2013, with production largely attuned to meet the needs of an increasingly smaller pool of players. Despite the upcoming closure of Arkema’s 90,000 tonne/year downstream phthalic anhydride (PA) plant in Chauny, France by March 2014, sources in the market do not expect any significant change in terms of overall balance in Europe.
OX spot prices in Asia are expected to remain stable-to-firm for the first quarter on the back of tight supply and stable demand. Regional supply is expected to remain tight as several producers have reduced their plant operating rates because persistently high feedstock isomer-grade xylene spot prices have eroded margins. These producers have no near-term plans to ramp production rates up. As a result, demand from the downstream PA makers is expected to remain stable-to-firm because of the reductions in contractual volumes. Some OX producers will only be manufacturing enough OX to meet contractual requirements.
Updated to mid-Jan 2014
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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.
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