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: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2017
GS Caltex will have maintenance for 20 days in November while Ningbo Zhongjin has a 50-day turnaround that started on 25 September. The production shortfalls from the maintenances and expectations of increase demand from downstream PTA plant startups and restarts in the fourth quarter, should bring the supply demand to a more balanced state in Asia.
Market sources said the impending startup of two new Chinese downstream purified terephthalic acid (PTA) units in the fourth quarter are likely to increase demand for PX and reduce the considerable length in the spot market. This is also expected to support the PX-naphtha spread as the new demand would take a large bite out of Asian-origin supply.
Availability of European paraxylene (PX) through the fourth quarter is expected to remain stable with the third quarter. Output is now back to normal after some maintenances in Q3. Spot market activity is likely to be limited and still following the general trends in Asia.
While October European paraxylene (PX) demand is expected to be steady with September, demand is expected to dip in November and December especially as the markets along the supply chain destock in preparation for year-end.
PX was not heard to be fully back online at the beginning of the quarter after Hurricane Harvey. STDP units, which produce a PX-rich stream of mixed xylenes (MX), have been heard not to be running and MX supply for chemical use remained tight.
The peak summer season for PX applications has passed, however the supply issue remains uncertain following Hurricane Harvey.
Updated to Q4 2017
Cargo availability outside of northeast Asia is expected to lengthen as traders will be selling their contractual volumes from ExxonMobil, following its acquisition of Jurong Aromatics Corporation's (JAC) Singapore-based plant. Supply of Chinese material is expected to remain stable as major producers have no immediate plans to reduce operating rates.
Market participants expect PA demand and discussions to improve amid limited spot availability, which is expected to boost sentiment and encourage end-users to raise PA operating rates and the consumption of OX. Regional demand is expected to firm ahead of the year-end and Lunar New Year holiday celebrations.
Availability of European orthoxylene (OX) through the fourth quarter is largely expected to remain stable, with few to no plant maintenances scheduled to take place in the next three months.
Overall demand through the fourth quarter is expected to be lower compared with the third quarter. October offtake is likely to remain stable with September, although buying interest in November and December is traditionally set to taper off towards year-end, as players focus on destocking.
Prices began to increase following Hurricane Harvey as the supply of OX and feedstock mixed xylenes (MX) became tight.
PA producers were not heard to have any issues obtaining OX.
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Paraxylene-Orthoxylene news & analysis
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Paraxylene Methodology Consultation read more >
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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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