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Asia petrochemicals: Key market indicators July 12-16

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Asia petrochemicals: Key market indicators July 12-16

The Asian petrochemical markets are likely to witness a mixed sentiment in the trading week ending July 16 amid an uncertain upstream crude price movement and demand recovery.

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Ethylene

** The Asian ethylene outlook this week remains steady to firm amid tight supply and volatile upstream prices. Naphtha-based steam crackers' margins would likely be pressured by high naphtha prices and weak downstream demand.

** Local supply is expected to be tight, and trade sources are monitoring steam cracker restarts in South Korea and Taiwan.

Purified terephthalic acid

** The Asian PTA market is likely to continue seeking direction amid a mixed sentiment in the week starting July 12.

** Market participants are closely monitoring the status of Zhejiang Petrochemical's new paraxylene plant, as well as the demand recovery along the whole Indian polyester chain.

Polypropylene

** Despite a general uptrend seen since the prior week, many trade participants found it hard to reach consensus on prices amid a wide spot bid/offer spread for dollar-denominated cargoes in many Asian regions.

** Besides the improved sentiment in South Asia, other regions like China and Southeast Asian continue to show lackluster demand because of ongoing Chinese expansions and pandemic outbreaks in Southeast Asia.

Isomer MX

** Isomer MX prices are expected to continue the trend of following crude oil and Asian paraxylene prices, although whether the PX-MX spread remains robust is a question mark this week.

** The East China domestic MX market expected to remain lackluster due to a lack of blending and aromatics demand.

** Taiwan's CPC Corp. is expected to begin a scheduled turnaround at its No. 3 aromatics unit around mid-July, which is expected to last until September, as reported by S&P Global Platts. No August-loading tenders were issued for isomer mixed xylenes till the time of publication due to the upcoming turnaround, market sources said last week.

MTBE

** The Asian FOB Singapore MTBE marker is expected to be on a downtrend this week, pressured by tapering gasoline blending demand in China as well as rising supplies from India and South Korea.

** South Korea's LX MMA, previously known as LG MMA, is running its new 100,000 mt/year MTBE plant in Yeosu at full capacity, after starting operations mid-June.

** India's Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd. has concluded its recent sell tender offering 5,000 mt of MTBE for loading July 21-25 from Haldia around a low $20s/mt discount to the Mean of Platts FOB Singapore assessment.

Toluene

** The trade momentum in the Asian toluene market is likely to remain cautious amid volatile oil prices in the week ended July 10 and shrinking demand.

** The key FOB Korea marker fell $9/mt on the week July 9 at $745/mt as downstream aromatics, such paraxylene and benzene, weakened over the same period, while gasoline-blending demand from Southeast Asia took a hit amid rising COVID-19 cases.

** CPC Corp. has scheduled maintenance at its No. 3 aromatics unit from mid-July to the end of September, several industry sources said July 9. The unit can produce 27,000 mt/year of benzene, 135,000 mt/year of toluene and 156,000 mt/year of isomer-MX, according to Platts historical data.