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.
These are an essential tool for those involved in the industry to keep abreast of market movements and make crucial commercial choices.
Updated to Q4 2020
New capacity and limited scheduled maintenance shutdowns kept supply more than sufficient in the quarter. China’s Dongying Weilian Chemical’s new 1m tonne/year PX facility started up at start of the quarter, while operating rates across the region increased marginally, on the back of production margins recovery from chemical reformer units. During the quarter, the region saw a production loss of around 842,300 tonnes as a result of maintenance shutdowns.
Downstream PTA production saw a loss of around 1.34m tonnes due to several shutdowns, with around 138,000 tonnes of PTA production loss coming from unplanned shutdowns. A 1.34m tonnes PTA production loss is equivalent to around 910,800 tonnes of PX demand loss. PTA operating rates in China were slightly lower during the quarter at an average of 84%, compared to 85% in the previous quarter.
European supply of PX remained more than ample throughout Q4, even though producers reduced production rates during periods of low demand, according to sources. Weak demand limited pressure on the supply of material.
Demand for PX remained weak during Q4, as it had been for much of the year. Activity was limited to contractual business as low demand and a wide gap between buy and sell-side price ideas meant little spot activity.
Despite poor margins in the US, PX supply increased, as a two-month shortage of co-feedstock MEG significantly reduced downstream run rates. In addition, imports surged – particularly from Saudi Arabia and India, amid weak polyester fibre demand and an oversupplied Chinese market. Vast new capacity in China also contributed to the influx of imports into the US east coast, as volumes previously intended for Asian polyester fibre production required new outlets.
Following the two-month MEG shortage, which resolved in mid-Q4, downstream PET run rates resumed their previous high levels amid strong demand for food and hygiene-product packaging.
Updated to Q4 2020
Supply was largely unchanged outside of China, with operating rates at existing facilities being kept unchanged amid squeezed production margins. On-going shutdowns at a facility located in Singapore kept supply snug within southeast Asia. Within China, inventories in east China were more than sufficient, at around 30,000 tonnes and above, while supply domestically was ample with the restart of a facility located in Hainan.
Demand improved as end-users purchased more spot cargoes amid a higher trending upstream energy market. Furthermore, improvement in the downstream plasticizers and construction sector kept run rates of PA facilities high, increasing the requirement for feedstock OX.
The supply of OX was generally balanced during Q4. No production issues were heard and there was sufficient domestic and imported material to satisfy demand.
Demand for OX was robust during the Q4 although any buying appetite was largely limited to contract business. Demand from the key automotive sector – which was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic earlier in 2020 – had largely recovered by the end of the year.
Run rates dropped to three-year lows, due to poor extraction economics. Imports rose by about one-third in 2020, but overall supply was lower than in previous years amid lacklustre demand. Logistics issues following Hurricanes Laura and Beta in the Gulf Coast also caused supply issues while ports were restricted.
Although exports increased in late summer/early autumn during the three-month maintenance closure of the key Illinois river – which connects US Gulf OX producers with consumers in the Chicago area – demand was still well below normal levels.
We offer the following regional Paraxylene-Orthoxylene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Paraxylene-Orthoxylene marketplace.
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Paraxylene (PX) is the largest volume isomer of the mixed xylenes. Orthoxylene (OX) is the second largest of the three commercial isomers of xylene.
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 intermediates purified 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.