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 2018
Supply is anticipated to decrease in the fourth quarter as major PA producers are planning turnarounds. On the other hand, some producers in China are considering exporting Naphthalene-based PA into southeast Asia. While this may compensate for the shortfall in supply, most buyers said they require OX-based PA to meet their production requirements.
Demand in the key China market is anticipated to remain muted. While some buyers continue to import cargoes, China has increasingly become self-sufficient in its PA supply. In southeast Asia, demand is expected to remain stable, supported by downstream plasticizers. Demand from India may pick up during the quarter amid year-end restocking activities.
The fourth quarter commenced with a balanced picture and little change is expected. Ostend Basic Chemicals is due to have a catalyst change at one of its lines in November, but given the time of year, any supply reduction is not expected to have a detrimental impact on the market.
Demand was normal in October and this was forecast to remain the case for November too. Despite this normal description, spot demand remains thin, with most covering requirements under contract agreements. As is traditionally the case, many customers are likely to aim to end the year with low stock levels and as such lower demand for December is expected.
US phthalic anhydride (PA) supply is expected to be normal during the third quarter with no known planned maintenance taking place. Supply is expected to be balanced with typical summer demand, which may taper in August amid late-summer holidays but pick up again in September.
US phthalic anhydride (PA) demand is expected to be steady during the third quarter and generally balanced with US supply levels. A late-summer lull in business may lead to decreased demand, but business generally picks back up in September. Prices have potential to rise on the back of increased costs.
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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.
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