Petrotahlil - ASIA: The week in petrochemicals
Mixed fundamentals in the Asian petrochemical market are expected for the week starting Aug.17.
While aromatics continue to face the pressure from oversupply, upside is expected in acrylonitrile on supply outages.
Although isomer-grade mixed xylene saw a slightly wider spread to paraxylene last week, it remains to be seen if that trend can continue for long. Demand for MX into China remains on the weak side as inventories are high, and trade sources said the market is long on supply for the time being.
The Asian toluene market would likely extend the bearish trading tone this week as oversupply situation remained unresolved. FOB Korea toluene marker stood at $384/mt on Aug.17 and was $15.125/mt below the feedstock CFR Japan naphtha physical.
Asian styrene is likely to remain bearish despite the likelihood of fewer arrivals in East China. While some sources see relatively stable operating rates at downstream ABS/PS plants, the market also expects to see increasing domestic supplies in H2 August on the return and output ramp-up at some domestic producers.
Asian low-density polyethylene prices were stable on week, amid slightly tight supply and thin buying. In plant news, Thailand's PTT will shut its 300,000 mt/year LDPE unit at Map Ta Phut in September, for 24 days of maintenance, a company source said.
Asian monoethylene glycol prices were stable as downstream polyester demand was considered average, sources said. MEGlobal nominated its MEG Asia Contract Price for September arrivals at $620/mt CFR Asia main ports, up $30/mt from August, a company source said.
The propylene market in Asia likely to stay stable this week as Chinese buyers were cautious on picking up materials given lackluster downstream polypropylene price.
Chinese buyers were heard not willing to pick up imports as prices were heading towards mid $800's,
The price spread between polypropylene and propylene was calculated at $60/mt Aug.15, way below the typical breakeven spread of $150/mt, according to S&P Global Platts data.
The acrylonitrile market is poised to stay firmer this week as China's Jiangsu Sailboat Petrochemical is only running the second of its 260,000 mt/year acrylonitrile plants at Lianyungang at half rate after it restarted on Aug. 6 followed a shut down on July 16 due to the unexpected outage of its upstream methanol-to-olefins plant.
The company is not running the second Acrylonitrile plant at full due to the lack of propylene feedstock.
A Middle East producer with off-spec issues is expected to impact prices in Asia. Some buying interest was seen in Southeast Asia in the range of $225-$235/mt CFR for main and non-main ports. As other Middle East producers had already allocated September-arrival cargoes for Asia, there were very few prompt spot cargoes available for buyers, and this shortage pushed offers to $235/mt CFR Korea for H1 October-arrival.
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Source : Platts