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 Q1 2019
Asian paraxylene (PX) supply increased during the quarter amid the lack of scheduled turnarounds. Furthermore, China’s Hengli Petrochemical started trial runs at its new 2.25m tonne/year PX unit at the start of the quarter, further lengthening supply.
Demand outside of China was steady, as production margins were healthy, with downstream facilities’ operating rates being kept at high rates. However, demand in China was lower due to several turnarounds at downstream facilities.
European availability of paraxylene (PX) improved early in Q1 2019, following the restart of production at BP’s Gelsenkirchen, Germany, site in mid-December. Water levels on the river Rhine also rose in December, allowing barge deliveries to return to typical activity in early 2019. Supply of PX was generally balanced during the first quarter of the year, despite limited import volumes from Russia.
PX demand was generally healthy in the first quarter, following the seasonally quiet final quarter of 2018. However, sources said that spot demand was somewhat quiet in March, with a producer attributing this to buyers delaying purchases in anticipation of softening prices.
US paraxylene (PX) supply decreased in the first quarter following the shutdown of CP Chem’s 495,000 tonne/year plant in Pascagoula, Mississippi, at the end of 2018. The plant, which represented approximately 11% of domestic capacity, severely reduced domestic supply alongside decreased production during refinery maintenance season. Prices remained under downward pressure, nonetheless, amid anticipated new capacity at Hengli Petrochemical’s new world-scale PX plant in Dalian, China, expected for early April.
US PX demand decreased in the first quarter amid weaker demand for US exports to China and the seasonal downturn in the US polyester chain. Hengli Petrochemical’s new 2.25m tonne/year PX plant in Dalian, China, is decreasing demand for US PX exports to that country. Polyester demand in the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) chain is typically weakest during the cooler autumn and winter months amid decreased demand for plastic drinking bottles.
Updated to Q1 2019
In the key China market, OX supply is expected to remain stable. Meanwhile, most producers still prefer to produce paraxylene (PX) compared with co-product OX. Outside of China, some buyers are looking for spot cargoes to supplement their contractual volumes. However, producers are only offering OX on contractual basis and do not have additional quantities to offer in the spot market.
Trading activities in the key China market is anticipated to remain muted amid high domestic inventories. Buyers indicated that they are not keen to import OX as key domestic producers have been lowering their list prices for OX. Outside China, demand for OX is expected to increase as some buyers have already started enquiring for spot cargoes to supplement their existing OX volumes.
Updated to Q4 2018
Availability of European orthoxylene (OX) is expected to improve in the fourth quarter of the year with technical restraints currently affecting the market are likely to be resolved. This includes the low levels of the Rhine river, which are at present limiting barge loadings and causing congestion for rail and truck freight.
The market supply should have also recovered after the force majeure at BP’s plant in Gelsenkirchen, which was lifted in August. Demand is meanwhile set to decrease as the downstream PA market traditionally slows down towards the end of the year after a busy September.
US OX supply is expected to remain healthy in the fourth quarter amid seasonal downturn in demand following the summer high season. Demand is typically strongest in the summer amid peak construction season. Supply is thus expected to remain healthy through the end of the year.
US OX demand is expected to weaken in the fourth quarter amid seasonal downturn in downstream demand. Demand is typically strongest during peak construction season, which occurs from June to August. Demand will also soften with decreased demand for primary feedstock MX following the switch to winter-grade gasoline.
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.