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Updated to Q3 2020
PTA inventories in China stayed high in the quarter, at above 3m tonnes. Asia saw a total production loss of around 1.21m tonnes in Q3, with around 421,600 tonnes from unplanned outages. The average operating rate of PTA facilities in China stood at around 85%, compared with 87% in the previous quarter. Weaker PTA production margins weighed on the plant operating rates in the region.
Overall demand for PTA was flat, as downstream production margins turned negative. Operating rates of downstream polyester units in several countries increased, with downstream demand entering the traditional peak manufacturing season. In China, polyester operating rates increased to 85.9%, compared to 83.2% in the previous quarter. In India, downstream plant run rates were low, improving only late in Q3 to around 70-75% from 30-40% in Q2.
There was ample PTA supply over the traditional high season for main application PET, due to the overall impact of the global health crisis. There was a steady flow of imports, particularly from South Korea.
Sales were lost as the coronavirus negatively affected downstream offtake of small PET bottles and carbonated soft drinks.
PTA supply was adequate during Q3 on the back of steady feedstock PX supply and despite sustained strong demand from the downstream PET sector.
Q3 demand was strong, supported by robust downstream demand that was mainly from the PET sector.
Updated to Q4 2020
Q4 supply is likely to be balanced to ample, depending on the duration of a force majeure declaration by a PET producer. Should demand from the downstream PET resin sector remain strong, PTA supply may become tight.
Q4 demand is likely to strengthen once the force majeure declaration by a PET producer is lifted, since downstream PET consumption is likely to remain robust. The pandemic has changed end-consumers’ purchasing behaviour and PET consumption has been boosted since March.
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