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Updated to Q1 2019
Supply of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) in the non-China markets was balanced to long amid weak export demand, and the higher operating rates at PTA facilities. On the other hand, PTA supply within the key China markets saw a production loss of around 851,000 tonnes in the quarter.
The first quarter of the year tends to be the traditional low manufacturing season, especially with the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, resulting in lower operating rates at downstream polyester facilities. The average Chinese operating rates of polyester facilities in the quarter stood at 80.8%.
A force majeure on downstream polyethylene terephthalate (PET) at Indorama Ventures’ facility in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, meant output of PTA was reduced from November to February. This followed a scheduled outage on PTA at Indorama’s Portugal plant in October. There was a planned shutdown at Plastiverd’s Spanish PET facility in Prat de Llobregat in quarter one, which is usually a quiet period for demand.
As the minimal impact from recent, unexpected cuts in supply along the chain shows, demand for PTA into PET has not been as expected for some, although contractual requirements meant that others were sold out for March.
US PTA supply during the first quarter of 2019 was adequate on the back of steady supply of feedstock paraxylene. Prices increased due to rising raw material costs and a stronger adder in its price formula.
US PTA demand in the first quarter of 2019 was moderate, but stable as demand from downstream sectors, mainly polyethylene terephthalate (PET), remained stable. Higher PTA prices did not appear to affect steady demand.
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