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 2020
Asia saw a total production loss of around 637,000 tonnes during the quarter as a result of planned plant maintenance. Operating rates at existing units were below full capacity, as a result of persistent weak margins faced by PX producers. A new 1m tonne/year PX unit operated by Dongying Weilian Chemical started up at the end of the quarter, while Sinopec Hainan restarted its 1m tonne/year PX unit, after being idled since January this year.
Demand within Asia fell, as a result of several planned maintenance shutdowns seen at downstream PTA facilities, which resulted in a loss of PX demand of around 798,600 tonnes during the quarter. The average operating rate of PTA facilities in China stood at around 85%, compared to 87% in the previous quarter. Weaker production margins faced by end-users had also curbed the demand requirement for spot PX cargoes.
Supply generally remained long during Q3. Production capacity and import volumes were more than ample. European producers reduced production rates, but limited demand resulted in continued length in supply.
Demand continued to be weak throughout Q3. Spot activity was particularly limited and players were largely focused on contracted volumes.
Low PX extraction rates continued amid unfavourable spreads with feedstock toluene and MX. Feedstock MX supply tightened in late August following Hurricane Laura, which shut down one refinery, and another refinery had planned maintenance.
The pandemic has increased takeout and packaged meal consumption, sustaining strong demand for downstream PET film, as well as bottles used to package in-demand cleaning supplies. An aluminium can shortage also helped prop up PET-bottled drinks, in the absence of travel and large events that contribute to peak summer demand. When co-feedstock MEG suddenly became short amid hurricane-related shutdowns and planned maintenance, PET production was curtailed and this limited PX demand.
Updated to Q3 2020
Weak production margins for aromatics had kept production rates of by-product OX relatively low. As a result, spot availability for prompt cargoes from producers were limited. There was also a lack of supply for deep-sea cargoes, with the arbitrage economics window closed.
Downstream prices were on an uptrend trajectory during the quarter. This was driven largely by stronger demand seen in the end-markets automobile and construction industries. As a result, downstream production margins improved, thus increasing the demand for feedstock OX.
Supply of OX was lengthy in July but rebalanced during August and remained balanced for the rest of Q3. Stronger demand and reduced run rates at producers reduced the length of the European market, but availability remained good.
Demand was weak in July, but rose gradually through August and September. However, demand for spot material remained limited as players focused on contract business. Demand was driven by the key automotive sector.
Low OX extraction rates continued amid unfavourable spreads with feedstock toluene and MX. Feedstock MX supply tightened in late August following Hurricane Laura, which shut down one refinery, and another refinery had planned maintenance.
Demand was low, as maintenance shutdowns on the key Illinois river prevented deliveries of OX to US Midwest buyers. The key construction sector led the US economic recovery, as people facing an indefinite period of staying home took on remodelling and home improvement projects. This sustained demand into paints and coatings in particular, although levels remained below normal. Demand into automotive production lagged, however, amid high unemployment and reduced consumer spending on durable goods.
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.