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 Q4 2016
Asia: Paraxylene (PX) supply is expected to continue lengthening in Q4 as a result of a new plant startup in India. Reliance Industries is due to start its new 2.25m tonne PX unit at the end ofOctober. There are also ample spot supply from US, Europe, India, the Middle East and Singapore, with traders attempting to offload volumes in the spot market. A fall in demand from end users due to the seasonal lull is not expected to support prices.
Europe: European paraxylene (PX) prices firmed slightly into July by €5/tonne to €755/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe). Spot prices were stable, but the market started to feel the effects of the summer slowdown with activity thin.
Towards the end of July, European prices came under downward pressure from Asian imports on offer at lower prices as well as the Asia netback which was at €710-720/tonne FD NWE.
Sources struggled to agree on a contract price for August and this was not settled until late in the month at a split settlement of €730-745/tonne FD NWE, down €10-25/tonne. Within a week, early September deals were reported at a rollover and by mid-month confirmation was found at the lower end of the August range at €730/tonne FD NWE, representing a drop for some and a rollover for others.
Availability was considered good, demand reasonable and Asian spot prices were firm. Spot prices were assessed in Europe at $690-710/tonne FOB (free on board) Rotterdam on 23 September.
Updated to Q3 2016
Europe: The European orthoxylene (OX) market supply has been tight during the second quarter of the year with France’s Total in force majeure and at least one other producer experiencing technical issues. Sources are, however, optimistic that availability will improve in July.
Asia: Within Asia, supply of OX is expected to lengthen in the third quarter upon the restart of Singapore’s Jurong Aromatics Corporation aromatics complex. The plant has a template capacity of 200,000 tonnes/year of OX, with commercial operations starting in August. Most players surmise downward pressures on shrinking demand stemming from negative margins.
US: The US OX market could see some softening of demand in Q3. However, indications that downstream phthalic anhydride (PA) demand remains strong, and that PA flake supply remains snug.
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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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