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Asian paraxylene-mixed xylene spread seen narrowing further as S-Oil eyes restarting No. 2 Onsan PX unit in Aug

Singapore — The spread between paraxylene and its feedstock isomer-grade mixed xylene is expected to narrow further in Asia with South Korea's S-Oil eyeing to restart its 1.1 million mt/year No. 2 PX unit at Onsan in August.

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"The Onsan PX unit is expected to achieve on-specification [production of] PX cargoes in August," a source close to S-Oil said Tuesday.

The unit was shut in early March for long-term maintenance.

With the restart of the S-Oil unit, the PX-MX spread on an FOB Korea basis is expected to narrow further from a near eight-year high reached in March.

The Asian PX-MX spread had widened to $447.67/mt on an FOB Korea basis on March 12 -- the widest it had been since March 29, 2011, when it was assessed at $454.50/mt, S&P Global Platts data showed.

The widening was driven mainly by a glut in MX supply with several downstream PX units going into turnarounds in the region at the time, Platts has reported.

But with restarts of many of those plants and coming onstream of additional capacity in China, the spread has narrowed and was at $158.42/mt on Monday, Platts data showed.

China's Hengli Petrochemical started its first PX line of 2.25 million mt/year in March-April. Its second line of the same capacity is expected to start this month.

Sinopec Hainan's No. 2 PX line of 1 million mt/year is expected to start production in the third quarter of this year. The capacity at its No. 1 PX line, which currently produces at 600,000 mt/year, will also be raised to 1 million mt/year by the third quarter, Platts has reported.

--Frank Zeng, frank.zeng@spglobal.com

--Michelle Kim, michelle.kim@splgobal.com

--Gustav Holmvik, gustav.holmvik@spglobal.com

--Edited by Haripriya Banerjee, haripriya.banerjee@spglobal.com