The xylenes markets are covered by ICIS weekly in Asia, Europe and the US and daily in Asia. Independent and unbiased price assessments are quoted for isomer and solvent grade in Asia, solvent grade in Europe and for mixed xylenes in the US. Our network of locally-based reporters can provide you with trustworthy and reliable information upon which you can make informed business choices.
Our news and analysis within the commentary of the reports includes overviews, upstream and downstram news, production updates, tank inventories, outlooks, demand and supply and any other factors pertinent to the market at the time.
Updated to Q3 2020
Direct production from naphtha reformers and toluene disproportionation (TDP) units was suppressed by squeezed production margins. Operating rates at naphtha reformers were at about 90-95%, while TDP operating rates were at 50-60%. However, a new plant start-up in south China added to northeast Asia’s gross production capacity.
Demand was constant in the beginning of Q3 2020, but increased to some extent in August and September. In August, the spread between MX and downstream PX strengthened, thus encouraging more PX producers to buy MX and increase operating rates. In September, South Korea’s Lotte Chemical and China’s Sinopec Hainan .
Petrochemical restarted their PX units, which led to further improvement in MX demand.
Supply at the beginning of Q3 became more balanced as producers reduced operating rates. This was because of weak market economics due to poor demand and low prices. This continued into the remaining part of the quarter. Some producers operated at levels just high enough to furnish contractual obligations. Although water levels on the Rhine fell, there were no major issues for supply.
Consumption from gasoline blending came under pressure from competition from other boosters including MTBE and naphtha. Demand was also hurt by a dull peak driving season. Producers were not inclined to extract product at low premiums where buyers were willing to deal. Some producers looked to the spot market to meet contractual obligations.
Supply for MX experienced a sharp drop by late August and early September as the US Gulf Coast storms brought roughly 10% of total US MX capacity offline. MX supplies witnessed some lengthening in July as refiners prioritised MX for fuel blending purposes with little incentive for on-purpose production.
Demand made a surprising jump in the aftermath of the gulf coast hurricanes, with market sources indicating increased buying activity within a few days of the storms making landfall. The spike in interest was short-lived as demand paired back to its earlier pandemic levels with little to no activity conducted through the remainder of the quarter.
We offer the following regional Xylenes-Mixed xylenes analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Xylenes-Mixed xylenes marketplace.
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Xylenes are produced, along with benzene and toluene, from a reformer after running naphtha through an ethylene cracker.
The major use for xylenes is in the production of paraxylene (PX) and orthoxylene (OX). They are also used as a solvent in the paints industry and for other solvent uses.
Mixed xylenes (MX) are produced by high-severity catalytic reforming of naphtha from which the C8 stream contains OX, metaxylene and PX, as well as ethylbenzene (EB).
Xylenes are also obtained from the pyrolysis gas (pygas) stream in a naphtha steam cracker and by toluene disproportionation (TDP) and transalkylation.
Mixed xylenes occur as a colourless, flammable liquid or crystals, with a characteristic odour. They are insoluble in water and miscible with most organic solvents.
Mixed xylenes are a clear, sweet and flammable aromatic liquid or vapour. They are harmful or fatal if swallowed or inhaled, causing respiratory tract irritation, eye and skin irritation or an allergic skin reaction.