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ASIA: The week ahead in petrochemicals March 8-12

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ASIA: The week ahead in petrochemicals March 8-12

Singapore — Sentiment in the Asian petrochemical market is expected to stay bullish in the week starting March 8, buoyed by the rise in upstream crude oil futures, and limited supply amid an ongoing global tightness.

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Paraxylene

**Asian paraxylene is expected to remain firm as sentiment remains strong, and oil prices will likely continue to gear its direction, market sources said.

**Sources see a lack of spot supply, while demand from downstream PTA remains relatively healthy.

PTA

**Asia's purified terephthalic fundamentals are likely to remain strong given limited spot availability amid maintenance planned for March and April in Northeast Asia.

**Asian PTA suppliers continue to receive more spot buying inquiries from Europe and Turkey after Ineos declared force majeure on its 1.4 million mt/year PTA plant at Geel in Belgium, S&P Global Platts reported earlier.

Isomer-MX

**A firm outlook for Asian MX is seen ahead of upcoming maintenance in China and Japan, and as crude oil prices remain robust.

**Although the spread to naphtha narrowed $71.13/mt week on week, it remained at a healthy $133/mt on March 5, Platts data showed, while the spread to paraxylene widened $30/mt to $96.83/mt, moving closer to a targeted margin by PX producers.

Styrene

**Asian styrene is likely to stay firm during the week of March 8, buoyed by strength in the ex-China market due to supply disruptions and healthy demand.

**Market participants expect FOB discussions to continue as cargoes move out of China to the rest of world amid an ongoing global tightness. Demand stemmed from household appliances will also remain strong and lend support to the styrenics chain amid a reported shortage for ABS and HIPS.

Methanol

**Asian methanol is expected to strengthen on the back of bullish fundamentals in the crude oil market this week and thin liquidity for spot cargoes in Asia.

**Methanol inventory at China's eastern coast has been low. Data from market research firms showed stocks at Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian fell 7.21% on the week to 820,300 mt in the week ended March 5. Trade sources said there has been no let up in de-stocking activity as sellers exported bonded tank cargoes to Southeast Asia, Europe and India.

Butadiene

**Asian butadiene will remain firm in the week of March 8, fueled by healthy Chinese demand for April business.

**Chinese end-users will continue to actively seek spot cargoes in a bid to cover a supply shortfall due to butadiene maintenance season.

Propylene

**China's propylene market is likely to face some pressure this week as buyers are adamant that sellers lower their offers before they take positions. Chinese buyers, in particularly downstream polypropylene producers, are wary that the recent surge in prices had outpaced market fundamentals.

**In South Korea, SK Advanced is starting its new downstream polypropylene unit around March 20.

PP

**Asian polypropylene sentiment is mixed with most Northeast and Southeast Asian customers staying on the sidelines amid high PP prices and slimmer profit margins, while sellers continue to target attractive markets outside of Asia.

**Spot PP offers to Asia is expected to remain limited in the week starting March 8, except Chinese cargoes, market sources said.

**Even though overall freight cost is stable to lower, container space remains tight for international trades, according to sources.

Acrylonitrile

**The Asian acrylonitrile market is seen garnering firmer support due to ongoing supply woes worldwide. Acrylonitrile supplies in the US and Europe have been tight since last month due to the force majeure announced by INEOS and Cornerstone.

**Acrylonitrile for CFR South Asia was assessed at $2,650/mt on March 2 -- the highest since June 5, 2011, when the assessment stood at $2,650/mt CFR South Asia.