The weekly Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) price report is published in Asia, Middle East, Europe, CIS, the US and Latin America. The reports cover, if applicable to the region, different grades of PET such as bottle, film and fibre, domestic prices, spot prices, production news, feedstock quotes, exchange rates and price history.
The unbiased and informative reports are full of news and analysis, and are a vital tool for those involved in the industry to use to make better informed decisions.
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Polyethylene terephthalate: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2018
Supply is expected to be stable as PET producers continue to run their plants at high operating rates amid the typical peak demand season. There are upcoming new PET capacities in China and Vietnam, but these are expected to come onstream either late in the second quarter or in the third quarter, hence will only have an impact on supply in the second half of 2018.
Overall demand is expected to increase as demand enters its seasonal peak for production for summer end-consumption of bottled beverages in the northern hemisphere. For the other downstream sectors in other packaging applications, demand is expected to be stable to increase, as it is the general peak manufacturing period in most countries.
Large, spot volumes of PET are still not expected to be freely available from sellers in Europe in the early part of the second quarter. In this age of heavily contracted volumes, suppliers tend to sell out early in the quarter. One producer said it would only have spare volumes in May at the earliest. All three plants that were down in March, are due to be operational in April. The recent undercurrent of weakness in Asia may prompt a fresh flow of import deliveries into Europe, but these won’t arrive until well into quarter two or even beyond. Anti-subsidy measures against Indian PET into the EU are scheduled to expire in May 2018.
The second quarter usually heats up in terms of demand as the peak bottling season gets underway. Towards the end of the first quarter buyers felt that the worst of the availability constraints were over, suggesting perhaps that their requirements in the second quarter would be satisfied by both domestic contract commitments and imports. The rapid growth in world trade volumes, has created additional inter-regional competition. So, despite this being a new era where trade restrictions on imports to the EU are at their lowest in decades, there continues to be firm pressure on prices, and this may influence buyer activity. There has been heightened by negative media coverage of plastics, but it remains unclear if this will filter directly into the demand of PET during the first half of 2018.
For Q2, the supply landscape is likely to be steady, considering that the shortages of material created by the demise of M&G are all in process of being solved. If by any chance PET supply would still be short, imports will fill the gaps. The approval process for the Indorama purchase of Petroquimica Suape in Brazil will take a couple of months or more, meaning that any production increase in that plant could perhaps come in no earlier than in Q3. A similar process may develop in Mexico, where supply is still tight but adequate. Countries on the Pacific coast of South America will continue to look to Asia for pricing indications.
Latin America’s PET demand will be steady in Q2 as demand for disposables grow in the northern hemisphere while it drops in South America. Buyers are now less concerned about securing supply sources and prices should be heading down in the short term, when all production woes are addressed. Prices were in limbo prior to the M&G bankruptcy with oversupplied international markets. That situation should return by the middle of the year with a few name changes for the same old production structure. Consumers will stick to their own consumption patterns and there should be a growth of the activity compatible with demographic trends and GDP growth in the different countries. Presidential elections in several countries are providing uncertainty in some countries.
The overall operating rates of GCC plants are assumed to be constant at reduced rates with no updates heard about when UAE producer JBF will restart its PET plant that has been shut since June 2017. The GCC region will continue to rely on some imports coming from Asia such as China and India.
GCC PET demand is expected to increase as the weather in the region becomes hotter. There may be a slowdown in purchase activities amid Ramadan, which starts in May, but the consumption of PET is expected to remain high as downstream converters said they will run their plants at high operating rates to cater to warm weather and festivities in the quarter.
Supply is expected to continue to be tight in the US. Lost Americas production isn’t expected to begin returning until later in the year. Imports will continue to be reduced as duties are generally anticipated to be imposed on resin from five countries. While supply can be procured, it will not be as readily available as in years past.
The second quarter marks the start of peak consumption season in the US PET resin market, as the country moves into hot weather. This will coincide with fewer supply options as Americas capacity remains lower and imports fewer. Prices should stay firm through the quarter as the market stays tight.
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Polyethylene Terephthalate Methodology
About Polyethylene terephthalate
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) has a crystalline structure and good chemical resistance to mineral oils, acids and solvents but not to bases. It has good electrical resistance, low moisture absorption; it resists combustion and is self-extinguishing.
PET exists both as an amorphous (transparent) and a semi-crystalline (opaque and white) thermoplastic, and can be made into either a resin or a film. The semi-crystalline PET has good strength, stiffness and hardness while the amorphous PET has better ductility.
PET can be made into a resin, fibre or film. The largest outlet is synthetic fibres, followed by bottle resin. PET film is used in electrical applications and packaging.
In the manufacture of PET resins, purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and monoethylene glycol (MEG) are reacted to make a basic ester which is polymerised in a melt phase, polycondensation finishing reactor.
Dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) is an alternative feedstock to PTA but the PTA route is preferred. The molten polymer is extruded, cut into chips and cooled. The chips pass to a solid state polycondensation unit to form the PET resin.