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Updated to Q4 2020
Supply in China continued to trend higher amid a relatively constant operating rate, while supply outside of China stayed snug, especially in India. The region saw a total production loss of around 1.34m tonnes due to several shutdowns, with around 138,000 tonnes of PTA production loss coming from unplanned shutdowns.
Demand from China was relatively flat with downstream polyester facilities keeping run rates largely steady. Run rates at polyester facilities during the quarter stood at around 85.4%, compared to 85.9% during the previous quarter. Import demand from India was heathy, amid polyester operating rates being kept at relatively high levels, causing a slight PTA deficit.
Planned PTA shutdowns at Indorama’s plants in Portugal and the Netherlands took place in October, November and December, but both sites encountered difficulties along the way. A power failure caused a brief, but impactful shutdown of BP Chemicals’ 1.37m tonne/year site in Belgium in early November. Soaring freight costs and the container shortage delayed arrivals from Asia, impacting availability in the Q4 market.
Requirements for PTA into the bottle market reduced as downstream PET shutdowns took place and lockdowns took hold once more. There were moments when demand returned as buyers delved into the PET market for fear of supply restrictions.
US PTA supply during the fourth quarter of 2020 was ample due to reduced domestic PET production stemming from a shortage of monoethylene glycol (MEG). Operating rates were adjusted to reduce oversupply. Prices were soft, given the low crude prices that kept feedstock paraxylene values low.
US PTA demand declined early in the fourth quarter of 2020 as an active hurricane season caused damages along the US Gulf Coast resulting in monoethylene glycol (MEG) force majeures that meant reduced PET operating rates. Additionally, one PET plant declared force majeure.
Updated to Q1 2021
US PTA supply in the first quarter of 2021 is expected to remain sufficient as resin plants return to normal operating rates after a period of monoethylene glycol (MEG) shortage that resulted in reduced PTA production in the previous quarter. Prices may gain momentum as demand from downstream PET resin sector is expected to remain strong.
US PTA demand in the first quarter of 2021 is likely to be strong, supported by sustained robust demand from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for production of face shields, personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as drinks and food packaging. Demand is expected to be strong for as long as the pandemic is not under control.
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