The ICIS Phthalic anhydride reports will keep you informed and up-to-date with market movements in Asia, Europe and the US. Our network of locally-based reporters publish weekly price assessments for spot and contract, depending on the region.
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Phthalic anhydride: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2018
Several phthalic anhydride (PA) plants will undergo scheduled maintenance in Q2. Aekyung plants to shut its 210,000 tonnes/year plant at Ulsan, from end-April to mid-May for catalyst change. Nan Ya Plastics will shut two lines at its 228,000 tonnes/year plant in Mailiao, from mid-April to mid-May. PT Petrowidada plans to shut its 70,000 tonnes/year plant in Surabaya from 2-20 April and Continental Thailand plans to shut its 50,000 tonnes/year plant in Bangkok for two weeks in May/June, for catalyst replacement.
Demand in the key China market is anticipated to remain muted, as domestic cargoes remain cheaper than spot import cargoes. Over in southeast Asia, demand is expected to remain stable, supported by downstream plasticizers sector. In India, key domestic producers said they do not plan to export cargoes till May. As a result, buyers in India may continue sourcing northeast Asian and southeast Asian origin PA.
The European PA supply for Q2 is expected to remain balanced. There is one shutdown planned, but this is for a short period and all commitments will be covered during the work. There are no issues with supply of feedstock orthoxylene (OX).
Demand will typically reach its peak season during the second quarter. The higher consumption is expected to generate more interest on the spot market, as most demand has been covered under contract so far this year. There are some decent growth rates for downstream markets such as polyester polyol where some predict growth of up to 10% growth, followed by unsaturated polyester resins at around 4-6%.
Phthalic anhydride (PA) supply is at consistent levels. A Koppers recatalysation at its Illinois plant that will run through early May is not expected to impact the market. Buyers are heard to be covered on material. PA is expected to be readily available for anyone who needs it.
The second quarter marks the start of peak season in the US phthalic anhydride (PA) market. The downstream plasticizers should see an uptick in demand in the second quarter through late summer. The construction sector, in particular, is expected to see growth, especially with some delayed demand uptick from natural disaster rebuilding.
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Phthalic Anhydride Methodology
About Phthalic anhydride
Phthalic anhydride (PA) occurs as white solid in various forms or clear molten liquid, with an irritating odour. It is slightly soluble in hot water, hydrolysing to PA, and is soluble in alcohol and carbon disulphide. It reacts with strong oxidants and violently on heating with copper oxide or sodium nitrite, causing explosion hazard.
The major outlet for PA, accounting for just over half of production, is in the manufacture of phthalate plasticisers, the main product being dioctyl phthalate (DOP) which is used as a plasticiser in polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
The second largest outlet is in unsaturated polyester resins (UPR) which are usually blended with glass fibres to produce fibreglass-reinforced plastics. Principal markets are construction, marine and transportation.
The third largest outlet is PA-based alkyd resins, which are used in solvent-based coatings for architectural, machinery, furniture and fixture applications.
Small volume uses for PA include the manufacture of dyes and pigments, detergents, herbicides and insecticides, fire retardants, saccharin and polyester resin cross-linking agents.