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 Q3 2019
Asia saw a production loss of around 600,000 tonnes during the quarter as a result of several planned maintenance at paraxylene (PX) facilities. Earlier in the quarter, there were two unplanned outages that occurred in northeast Asia and India, but the impact on supply was limited, as the duration of shutdown was short. Marginal units adjusted run rates lower as production margins were under pressure.
Demand was largely steady, with downstream purified terephthalic acid (PTA) operating rates largely maintaining at above 80% in China. PX inventories at end users’ facilities were largely at low levels, with end users preferring to purchase on a need-to basis amid a volatile upstream crude market. Positive downstream production margins at PTA facilities had kept buying appetite for PX steady.
European supply of paraxylene (PX) was balanced to long for much of the third quarter amid weak demand for material. Global production capacity also increased with the start up of new plants in China.
PX demand continued to be weak during the third quarter of the year. Weak consumption in the downstream purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) sectors resulted in poor demand for PX. The typical seasonal lull in August when many market participants take holiday also contributed to weak demand.
US third quarter paraxylene (PX) supply was steady, with domestic production and supply ample enough to meet downstream demand for purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Despite a slight increase in downstream PTA and PET during the summer season, a true peak demand season for PET failed to materialise over the summer, limiting a significant drawdown of supply. Imports from Asia counterbalanced weak on-purpose PX production stemming from weak margins.
Third quarter PX demand was slightly higher, stemming from increased demand for downstream PTA and PET during the summer season. PTA and PET demand is typically strongest in the warmer summer months alongside increased demand for plastic drinking bottles. Although demand was slightly higher during the summer on seasonality, a true peak demand season for PET failed to materialise during the summer amid the US-China trade war and longer-term easing consumer demand for single-use plastic.
Updated to Q3 2019
Q3 supply of orthoxylene (OX) was limited within the region, as producers prioritised co-product paraxylene (PX) output instead, considering that OX margins were largely squeezed by firm feedstock costs. Inventories in China were low, as the arbitrage window to import was closed, curbing buying interest.
The ongoing trade war between the US and China curbed demand growth in the downstream sectors and limited the buying appetite for feedstock OX. In addition, downstream margins – especially in the phthalic anhydride (PA) sector – were negative and that restricted higher operating rates.
European supply of orthoxylene (OX) became long in July following the end of the force majeure from BP’s Gelsenkirchen site. European production returned to normal and material imported from Asia and the US while the force majeure was active contributed to lengthy supply conditions. Supply length reduced in September as import volumes returned to usual, limited levels, but availability of material remained ample amid weak demand.
Demand for OX was quiet throughout the third quarter of the year due to weak consumption from the key downstream phthalic anhydride (PA) sector. The typical seasonal lull in August when many market participants take holiday and some downstream production is shut down also contributed to weak demand.
US third quarter orthoxylene (OX) supply was steady amid strong refinery rates, with domestic production ample enough to meet downstream demand for phthalic anhydride (PA). Although there was a slight increase in downstream PA and plasticizers demand during the summer season, a true peak demand season for PA failed to materialise over the summer amid a soft construction season, limiting a significant drawdown of supply. Exports were slightly higher amid increased demand in China.
Third quarter OX demand was slightly higher, stemming from increased demand for downstream PA and plasticizers during the summer season. Demand for PA and plasticizers is typically strongest during the summer alongside the peak construction season. Although demand was slightly higher during the summer on seasonality, a true peak demand season for PA failed to materialise during the summer amid a softer construction season stemming from macroeconomic slowdown underpinned by the US-China trade war.
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.
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