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 2020
Supply was ample despite efforts by several regional producers’ to cut back on run rates. Japan’s JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy cut overall run rates to around 60% of its total production capacity in the beginning of the quarter, from 70-80% in Q4 2019. Sinopec Hainan’s 1m tonne/year PX facility remained shut since mid-January 2020.
Total downstream PTA unplanned production outage stood at 600,000 tonnes, translating to a loss of 396,000 tonnes of PX demand, while the quarter also saw a loss of around 900,000 tonnes of PX demand from scheduled turnarounds at PTA facilities. The spread of the coronavirus had eroded downstream demand, curbing PX demand.
European supply of PX lengthened during Q1. Supply was tight in January amid unconfirmed talk of production issues impacting the market. The market rebalanced in late January and early February before lengthening further to a balanced-to-long condition in the second half of March. Weak demand also contributed to increased availability of PX during the Q1 of 2020.
Demand for PX was consistently weak during Q1 2020. Increased demand for key derivative PET was seen amid coronavirus quarantine measures boosting sales of packaged goods. However, this increase in downstream consumption did not result in an increase in demand for PX.
Contract volumes remained steady, while available spot volumes were reduced due to generally unfavourable production margins. In March, when crude oil prices crashed, the spread between PX and upstream MX prices skyrocketed well past the threshold where extraction is profitable. However, due to very low demand from both gasoline and chemical end uses, MX was kept in the gasoline stream, which incurs lower operating costs than diverting it for extraction of PX and orthoxylene.
Demand for downstream polyethylene terephthalate (PET) remained seasonally low through most of Q1. As the coronavirus began to spread in the US in early March, consumers rushed to buy food, cleaning and hygiene supplies, many of which are packaged in PET. This created a short-term surge in demand but is expected to taper off in early Q2, as consumers reach their individual buying capacity.
Updated to Q1 2020
Run rates were maintained, keeping supply ample. The lockdown in China in the beginning of the quarter as a result of the coronavirus kept OX inventories relatively high within the country. ExxonMobil shut its Jurong Island facility in March for a scheduled maintenance, limiting spot availability.
Downstream run rates in China were lower due to the country’s lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Shandong Hongxin Chemical shut its OX-based PA production from end January as a result, limiting the demand for spot OX requirements. Supply chains and transportation restrictions were challenging, keeping demand low.
European supply was tight in early January, though limitations on supply eased during the month. Supply generally remained balanced during the rest of Q1. Some tightness was seen in early March as European supply was reliant on the availability of import material, but this was short-lived and the market reached a balanced-to-long condition late in the quarter.
Demand began the year seasonally low, following stronger-than-expected demand during December as tight supply encouraged buyers to secure volumes rather than destock. Demand was generally steady and within seasonal expectations during Q1. Weak demand was seen in March because of restriction measures and the impact of the coronavirus on downstream demand.
Orthoxylene (OX) supply was sufficient to meet demand in Q1. In early March, when crude oil prices crashed as a result of an oil price war, the spread between OX and upstream MX prices skyrocketed well past the threshold where extraction is profitable. However, due to very low demand from both gasoline and chemical end uses, MX was kept in the gasoline stream, which keeps operating costs lower than diverting it for extraction of OX and paraxylene.
OX demand into downstream phthalic anhydride (PA) in early Q1 was stronger than expected as construction projects started early due to mild weather. However, this was offset by Stepan’s PA production issues starting in January, followed by a force majeure on PA from its site in Millsdale, Illinois, through late March. The automotive sector, a major end-use that was already in the doldrums, mostly stopped production in March on coronavirus concerns, which also slowed or stopped construction projects.
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.
News & analysis
Regional price assessments, published daily or weekly, enabling you to keep track of trading prices, understand price drivers/fluctuations and set a benchmark for contract price settl ements. ICIS offers reports on over 180 commodities across the global petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets. Information covered in our price reports includes:
Information is accessed online, via the ICIS dashboard service and is configurable to suit your preferences.
Produced by the ICIS Consulting team, these reports give a robust rolling 12-month price forecast, trade balances and in-depth analysis into where markets are heading – providing a valuable tool to support your short- to medium-term plans.
ICIS pricing intelligence is delivered to you online via the ICIS dashboard. Here you can view your reports and also access other useful services including related news, analysis, historical data and market alerts.
ICIS dashboard also makes it easy for you to create pricing charts, download price history and export data to create tailored analytical models.
ICIS weekly margin reports deliver the detail you need to understand how production costs and prices are affecting margins, enabling you to judge the likely impact on your business and optimise your upstream and downstream business decisions.
The Supply and Demand Window on the ICIS Dashboard provides a snapshot view of historical and forecast information for supply and demand, production capacity and trade flows – a key tool to help safeguard future investments within the chemicals market.
24-hour global coverage of breaking news in the petrochemical industry, including updates on production, shutdowns and key transacted deals, keeping you informed of market developments as they happen. The ICIS news service allows you to customise the market alerts delivered to your email inbox, providing the business-critical information you need straightaway.
If you want to keep updated on the factors driving price movements in the global chemical markets, ICIS Chemical Business provides a summary of the information you need to support your business decisions. Every week, our global team of experts digests and summarises the key issues and their potential impact on the market – all in one magazine.
An expert view of supply and demand comprising four fully-reconciled databases, giving you access to extensive data for more than 100 markets. Information is included on global and regional trade flows, production, capacity and sources of demand in the short-, medium- and long-term. Data can be downloaded, customised and queried to support your planning requirements and your strategic decisions.
Analytics tools for MPG include:
ICIS provides specialist training courses across the global petrochemicals, base oils and fertilizers industries. Our training team of industry experts can help you increase your knowledge of the industry and gain the insight and know-how needed to operate and trade effectively.
Find out more about ICIS training courses >>
ICIS produces a series of highly informative and timely conferences. Extensive research is carried out to ensure that each programme delivers the information you need and addresses current industry issues. We source speakers who have the appropriate expertise and experience to deliver excellent quality papers.
Find out more about ICIS conferences >>
Working closely with you to understand your strategies, challenges and ambitions, the ICIS consulting team deliver tailored advice and solutions to suit your unique requirements. With many years’ experience of guiding business leadership teams, we show you how market conditions can make a positive or negative impact on your long-term plans.
ICIS expert consultants can provide your organisation with the insight, intelligence and data needed to build and grow your business in China. We can help you to gain a clear view on the short and long-term supply and demand picture in the chemicals, energy, iron and steel, non-ferrous metals and paper and pulp markets in China.
ICIS price assessments are based on information gathered from a wide cross-section of the market, comprising consumers, producers, traders and distributors from more than 250 reporters world-wide. Confirmed deals, verified by both buyer and seller, provide the foundation of our price assessments.
Our in-depth market knowledge drives our specialist focus, as we recognise the importance of individual market dynamics and not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Over 25 years of reporting on key chemicals markets, including Paraxylene-Orthoxylene, has brought global recognition of our methodology as being unbiased, authoritative and rigorous in preserving our editorial integrity. Our global network of reporters in Houston, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Mumbai, Perth and Moscow ensures unrivalled coverage of established and emerging markets.
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.