Asian Iso-MX: Slides $5-$6/mt despite slight rise in crude

Chemical Industry

– Taiwan’s FCFC No.3 PX may remain shut till Q4

– Taiwan demand stays low

Asian isomer-grade mixed xylene prices weakened again Wednesday, slipping $6/mt day on day to be assessed at $684/mt FOB Korea and down $5/mt at $704/mt CFR Taiwan despite slightly higher crude oil prices. The drop may be linked to lower demand in Taiwan as Formosa Chemicals and Fibre Corporation’s fire-hit No. 3 aromatics plant in Mailiao, Taiwan, could remain shut until the fourth quarter of this year, much longer than previously anticipated, industry sources with knowledge of the matter said Wednesday. A company source declined to confirm the restart date of the plant but said FCFC has plans to ramp up related orthoxylene output — a byproduct from paraxylene production — in June from two aromatics units in Mailiao. He added that the company has procured sufficient PX from the spot Market to ensure that downstream purified terephthalic acid production is not affected because of the shutdown upstream. Market sources previously expected the shutdown to last until first-half June, but now expects that stringent government safety and compliance checks could delay the restart of the aromatics plant to the fourth quarter. FCFC shut the No. 3 aromatics plant in Mailiao on April 7 after an explosion at an LPG pipeline, S&P Global reported earlier. It has the capacity to produce 900,000 mt/year of PX, 640,000 mt/year of benzene and 240,000 mt/year of OX. FCFC had separately shut its No. 1 aromatics plant at the same location from April 10 to end-May for annual maintenance. It has the capacity to produce 287,000 mt/year of PX, 213,000 mt/year of benzene and 80,000 mt/year of OX. Wednesday’s isomer-MX Market is “very quiet and the Chinese Market looks stable,” a trader said. The price of prompt cargoes in the domestic China Market was at Yuan 5,600-5,630/mt or about $710.50/mt on an import parity basis, a China-based trader said. In other news, Taiwan’s CPC has issued a sell tender for 5,000 mt of isomer-MX to load in either H1 or H2 June depending on the buyer’s preference. The cargo is to be priced at a differential to the June average of FOB Korea isomer-MX assessments, or on a fixed price basis, a source close to the matter said Wednesday. The tender will close on May 9, and awarded on May 10.

RATIONALE:

Asian isomer-MX was assessed down $6/mt day on the day at $684/mt FOB Korea and down $5/mt at $704/mt CFR Taiwan on Wednesday. The markers take the average of the third and fourth half-month laycans, currently the two June half-months. No bids or offers were registered during the Market on Close assessment process. During the MOC process, an offer for June loading cargo was heard lowered to $685/mt FOB Korea, without attracting any bids. The June laycans were assessed below the offer, at $684/mt FOB Korea. No bids or offers were heard on a CFR Taiwan basis, but the marker was assessed down $5/mt tracking FOB Korea marker, and considering reports of bids on a CFR China basis at $700-$705/mt for June arrivals. The above rationale applies to the following Market data codes: PHAUV00 for FOB Korea and PHAUT00 for CFR Taiwan.

 

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