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 2021
Q1 saw a total PX production loss of 694,000 tonnes due to scheduled shutdowns and unplanned outages. Unplanned outages accounted for around 33% of the region’s total PX production loss. The unplanned shutdown at Zhejiang Petrochemical’s 2m tonne/year PX unit had a huge impact on supply in China.
There were several shutdowns at downstream PTA facilities, with Q1 seeing a PTA production loss of around 1.8m tonnes, equivalent to PX demand of around 1.18m tonnes. Two new PTA facilities in China started up within Q1, with a total capacity of 4.9m tonnes/year, equivalent to around 269,500 tonnes/month. Demand from China was relatively healthy, as inventories within the country were low.
European supply of paraxylene (PX) rebalanced and then tightened during the first quarter of 2021, following an extended period of lengthy supply in the previous year.
Supply was impacted by strong downstream consumption putting pressure on domestic availability of PX.
Demand for PX was strong during the first quarter of 2021, particularly compared to the quiet demand seen for much of the previous year. Limited imports of derivative purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) from Asia drove demand for domestic production of these commodities, which required additional feedstock supply.
As a result of the mid-February polar storm in the US Gulf Coast, PX supply dropped in Q1. Three-quarters of US PX production was idled as a result of the storm, for around two weeks. Imports continued though at lower rates due to reduced downstream production.
Amid a two-month shortage of co-feedstocks MEG and acetic acid, downstream PET production was much lower, limiting demand for PX. The shortages resulted in at least three separate force majeure declarations for downstream PTA and PET. End-use demand for PET, particularly in packaging, remained strong, relying on imported resin to help fill supply gaps.
Updated to Q1 2021
The availability of prompt cargoes was limited, as high production costs and squeezed margins faced by regional producers kept run rates low. There was no availability for deep-sea cargoes from Europe with the arbitrage economics being negative. Instead, several Asian cargoes were diverted to Europe instead, with regional suppliers able to achieve better netbacks.
Spot OX demand was low, with the majority of end-users sufficiently covered by contracts. Furthermore, there were several unplanned and planned shutdowns at downstream PA facilities. Taiwan’s UPC Technology suffered an outage at its 48,000 tonne/year PA facility in the beginning of Q1. Furthermore, there were several scheduled shutdowns at PA facilities in Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia and Pakistan.
Supply of orthoxylene (OX) was balanced in early 2021 but tightened during late January and remained tight for much of the rest of the first quarter. Rising demand and limited import availability put pressure on European availability of OX.
Demand for OX was good in January following the typical end of year lull and strengthened further during February and March. Higher demand drove increases in spot prices, which were previously discussed at a discount to contract pricing due to weak demand and ample supply.
As a result of the mid-February polar storm in the US Gulf Coast, OX supply dropped in Q1. All US OX production was idled as a result of the storm, for around two weeks.
Despite the storm, downstream PA plants continued without disruption due to being located near Chicago. In addition, PA producers stock up on OX ahead of each winter to prepare for potential freezing of the key Mississippi and Illinois rivers, on which OX is delivered via barge. Supply of downstream PA was lower than expected, amid decreased imported material and stocking ahead of a US turnaround.
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.