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Updated to Q4 2020
Supply of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) gradually lengthened amid the start-up of new capacities in China. Xinfengming Group started up its new 2.2m tonne/year PTA unit in the early part of the quarter, while Zhongtai Kunyu started up its new 1.2m tonne/year PTA unit at the end of the quarter. There were limited scheduled shutdowns within the region, despite PTA producers facing squeezed margins.
Chinese downstream polyester demand was weaker during the quarter as a result of the seasonal lull, coupled with uncertainty from the macroeconomic environment. Downstream polyester facilities operating rates were on a downtrend, from 89% run rates at the start of the quarter, to around 82% at the end of the quarter. Downstream polyester demand elsewhere in Asia was flat, with the higher usage of recycled PET lowering demand for PTA.
Length continued across the purified terephthalic acid (PTA) value chain in quarter four due to low seasonal consumption, the negative economic mood and new capacities coming on stream in Asia. An oversupply of PTA was diverted away from Europe, partly due to a build up of downstream stocks during a poor peak season, and partly due to an accident at Polief’s site in Blagoveshchensk, Russia, which resulted in a force majeure declaration in October.
The markets were cautious due to the general macroeconomic environment, so demand for fourth-quarter offtake was slow. As the year draws to a close, a seasonal lull also takes hold, and 2019 was no different. New global capacities also meant buyers were reluctant to stockpile.
US purified terephthalic acid (PTA) supply during the fourth quarter of 2019 was sufficient on the back of steady supply of feedstock paraxylene (PX). However, prices were soft as buying interest from downstream polyethylene terephthalate (PET) declined as a result of the global slowdown stemming from the US-China tariffs war.
US PTA demand in the fourth quarter of 2019 was soft, showing a downward trend due to weaker demand from the downstream polyethylene terephthalate (PET) sector, which slows during the colder weather months. However, weaker demand than usual for the period was attributed to the global slowdown amid US-China trade tensions.
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