The ICIS Phthalic anhydride reports will keep you informed and up-to-date with market movements in Asia, Europe and the US. Our network of locally-based reporters publish weekly price assessments for spot and contract, depending on the region.
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Updated to Q4 2020
Supply was tight at the beginning of Q4, with some regional plants shut for turnarounds in October and November. The shortage eased towards the end of quarter as more plants restarted after maintenance work is completed. Supply was also bolstered by increased export availabilities from China in December.
Demand was firm throughout the quarter, underpinned by positive economic recovery in various key markets in the region, from China to southeast Asia and India. Downstream factories kept up active procurement of PA feedstock, not just to drive increased operations, but also to replenish their low inventories.
A lack of imported flake product and some minor hiccups, followed by a bigger production issue at a European producer have tightened the market. The low availability of imported downstream plasticizers has also limited spot product supply as plasticizers producers have focused on their own requirements. Some exports were heard to leave Europe for the US at the end of Q4, contributing to the tightening on flake.
Early Q4 demand was unexpectedly stable, spurring bullish sentiment. A slight slowdown was soon countered by the renewed pace of production downstream. Continued infrastructure stimulus packages in Europe, buoyant construction activity in Asia, and activity in the automotive sector ramping up globally have contributed to increased demand throughout the quarter. Stockpiling on fear of shortage in Q1 has propped sales up end of December.
Supply remained sufficient to meet seasonally low demand.
Demand remained at lower-than-expected levels, despite support from downstream plasticizers demand into automobile production and construction applications.
We offer the following regional Phthalic anhydride analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Phthalic anhydride marketplace.
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Over half the production of phthalic anhydride is used in the manufacture of phthalate esters, employed as plasticisers in PVC. Other major uses are in polyester resins and (decreasingly) in alkyd resins.
Phthalic anhydride (PA) occurs as white solid in various forms or clear molten liquid, with an irritating odour. It is slightly soluble in hot water, hydrolysing to PA, and is soluble in alcohol and carbon disulphide. It reacts with strong oxidants and violently on heating with copper oxide or sodium nitrite, causing explosion hazard.
The major outlet for PA, accounting for just over half of production, is in the manufacture of phthalate plasticisers, the main product being dioctyl phthalate (DOP) which is used as a plasticiser in polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
The second largest outlet is in unsaturated polyester resins (UPR) which are usually blended with glass fibres to produce fibreglass-reinforced plastics. Principal markets are construction, marine and transportation.
The third largest outlet is PA-based alkyd resins, which are used in solvent-based coatings for architectural, machinery, furniture and fixture applications.
Small volume uses for PA include the manufacture of dyes and pigments, detergents, herbicides and insecticides, fire retardants, saccharin and polyester resin cross-linking agents.