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Asia petrochemicals outlook, w/c Sep 21

Singapore — Many Asian petrochemical markets have climbed to multi-month highs and some are expected to remain supported in the near term by the recent climb in upstream markers as well as strong fundamentals within individual markets. Supply cuts have offset some of the demand destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to be a global threat to petrochemical markets.

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The propylene market in Asia is poised to strengthen further this week amid unplanned maintenance in the region. Given the recent price hike for propylene feedstock, China's Tianjin Bohai has reduced its propylene term supply to 80% for September and allocated the supply to its downstream swing plant. Hebei Haiwei was reported to be planning to shut its 500,000 mt PDH plant for turnaround in mid-October, which pushed up last week's trade levels.


Sentiment in the Asian ethylene market are mixed as October-arrival supply remains tight, leading to a strong interest for more prompt cargoes. However, the outlook for November-arrival cargoes is likely to be bearish on expectations of the re-opening of the US-Asia arbitrage window, and an increase in supply from Taiwan and Japan.

One of the key producers in South China started its new cracker on Sept. 20, while market sources are closely monitoring China's domestic supply situation.


The CFR ACN South Asia marker hit a near six-month high of $1,150/mt on Sept. 15, amid support from the strength in the downstream ABS market and tight spot supply in Asia.

The spread between CFR South Asia and CFR Far East Asia had narrowed to zero on Sept.15, from $105/mt on Aug. 18.

The CFR ACN South Asia marker is expected to gain traction this week as South Asian buyers compete with Far East buyers to secure the feedstock, which is already very tight.


Asian monoethylene glycol prices are expected to trend higher higher in the week starting Sept. 21 amid snug supply and improved buying sentiment due to increasing crude values. In plant news, China's Hualu Hengsheng is currently running its 500,000 mt/year MEG line in Shandong at 40%-50%, while its other 50,000 mt/year unit was running at 80% after coming back online from maintenance in late August, market sources said.


Asia low density polyethylene markers are expected to remain firm as global LDPE supply has been limited with few new capacity expansions, market sources said. In addition, Thailand's PTT will shut its 300,000 mt/year low density polyethylene unit at Map Ta Phut in late September, for 24 days of maintenance, a company source said. The company's other polyethylene units -- namely a 300,000 mt/year high density polyethylene unit, a 200,000 mt/year HDPE unit and two linear low density PE units with 400,000 mt/year of capacity each -- at the same site continue to operate, the source added.


More paraxylene plants are expected to start up going forward, with China's Sinochem Quanzhou scheduled to start up its new 800,000 mt/year unit in Fujian in October.

The global PX market has struggled with oversupply before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, which also affecting other aromatics markets such as feedstocks mixed xylene and toluene.


The CFR China styrene marker reached a six-month high at $694/mt on Sept. 18, and is likely to be rangebound this week, buoyed by tightness in dollar-denominated supply and limited feedstock ethylene. While shortage of storage space has eased, inventories are high in East China and may build up in the week starting Sept. 21, putting a lid on the rise in styrene prices.