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
The supply of paraxylene (PX) in Asia is expected to gradually lengthen on weaker demand amid a limited scheduled maintenance programme. In addition, China’s Fuhaichuang Petrochemical is expected to restart its second 800,000 tonne/year PX line during the quarter. The company recently restarted its first 800,000 tonne/year PX line at the end of 2018. Production margins for PX are still healthy, mainly due to the wide price gap between PX and naphtha. This should entice existing PX units to continue operating at full tilt.
Demand is expected to be relatively soft because the Lunar New Year holiday takes place in the middle of the quarter. In addition, an uncertain macroeconomic environment is likely to keep buyers at bay. End users are unlikely to build up stocks due to the cloudy outlook for upstream energy prices.
The availability of European paraxylene (PX) is expected to improve in the first quarter of 2019, but the product is expected to remain structurally short in the near term future. Supply of PX was tight in 2018 due to a number of production and logistics issues, including a force majeure followed by a lengthy maintenance at BP’s plant in Germany, as well as historically low levels of the river Rhine in the fourth quarter of the year. All of those have been or are expected to be resolved by the start of 2019.
Downstream demand is expected to pick up in Q1 2019 after the seasonal slowdown in December. Paraxylene (PX) consumption in Europe increased following the start up of Indorama’s 700,000 tonne/year purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant in Sines, Portugal in July. The market has become structurally short as a result, and is expected to remain so in the near future.
Supply is expected to tighten in Q1 amid a refinery maintenance season which should put upward pressure on prices in early 2019. Supply will also be tighter following the closure of Chevron Phillips Chemical’s PX plant in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The plant produces 495,000 tonnes/year, representing over 10% of North American capacity.
Demand for paraxylene (PX) is likely to increase in Q1 amid the loss of CP Chem’s PX plant as of the end of 2018. The US is likely to become increasingly dependent on imports from Asia to produce PTA for the polyester chain, while the recent loss in capacity may put upward pressure on prices.
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.
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