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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Upstream of Paraxylene-Orthoxylene
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Paraxylene-Orthoxylene: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2018
A heavier turnaround schedule was expected in Q2 as a large-scale maintenance was expected in Japan, along with turnaround upstream facilities. JXTG Nippon will have turnarounds at three of its PX lines in Q2. There were also shutdowns at plants in Taiwan and South Korea.
Downstream PTA plants were expected to ramp up production ahead of the polyester seasonal period in Q2. Requirement for PX and PTA was also expected to increase as new polyester plants were expected to come onboard in Q2.
Operating rates are due to ramp up in the Europe PX market in the second quarter, on expectations of stronger, seasonal demand from the derivative PTA and PET markets as is traditional during the warmer months. A restart of the Indorama plant in Portugal possibly in the third quarter could pull on available PX volumes, creating a tighter market. However, that is expected to be brought into balance by increased production.
Buying interest for PX in Europe is likely to increase in the second quarter versus that seen in the first quarter because of ramped up activity in the key derivative PTA and PET markets. This would be exacerbated by the potential restart of the Indorama plant in Portugal, which could draw PX volume from the market.
US PX supply is expected to remain steady in the second quarter. Sentiment will remain mixed amid uncertainty in the downstream PTA and PET markets. It is unknown when Americas production rates will return to previous levels.
Demand in the US PX market will be largely impacted by downstream uncertainty in the PTA and PET markets. Demand will likely remain muted amid reduced production levels as plants with new buyers have yet to start up. The export situation is unclear given the US and China’s potential trade war.
Updated to Q2 2018
In the key China market, OX is expected to remain oversupplied. Meanwhile, most producers still prefer to produce more paraxylene (PX) compared with co-product OX. There is more demand for the former, and hence, it is more lucrative. Some producers are also not keen to offer spot OX cargoes as most of their buyers have switched to contractual volumes.
Trading activities in the key China market is anticipated to remain muted amid high domestic inventories. Buyers indicated that they are not keen to import OX as key domestic producers have been lowering their list prices for OX. Outside China, demand for OX is expected to soften amid scheduled plant turnarounds at key downstream phthalic anhydride (PA) plants during the quarter.
Availability of orthoxylene (OX) in Europe has the potential to not be as long as it was in the first quarter as demand is expected to pick up from the downstream phthalic anhydride (PA) sector. PA demand is typically stronger in the second quarter, which could pull on available OX volumes.
Demand for orthoxylene (OX) in Europe is expected to pick up from the downstream phthalic anhydride (PA) sector in the second quarter. PA demand is typically stronger in the second quarter, which could pull on available OX volumes.
OX supply is expected to remain in balance with demand. With the approach of the summer driving season, however, there is a higher demand for OX feedstock mixed xylenes (MX) for use in gasoline blending rather than chemical derivatives. Still, pricing is expected to remain steady in the near term.
The second quarter marks the start of peak season in the US phthalic anhydride (PA) and plasticizers markets. Plasticizers should see an uptick in demand in the second quarter through late summer. The construction sector, in particular, is expected to see growth.
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Paraxylene-Orthoxylene news & analysis
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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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