Singapore — The highest initial offers in a January-December 2018 paraxylene supply tender issued by China's Yisheng Petrochemical show a premium of $2/mt over the reference price, traders who participated in the tender said, contrary to expectations of a deep discount.
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Final offers in the tender were submitted Friday.
Yisheng issued the tender around mid-October, inviting offers for an alpha/differential to the average of the monthly Asian Contract Price and the monthly average of the daily Asian PX spot assessments. It is seeking a minimum of 5,000 mt/month.
Yisheng is the world's largest purified terephthalic acid maker in terms of nameplate capacity, which is more than 13.5 million mt/year at Dalian, Ningbo and Hainan.
It was still unclear what the lowest offer was, the traders said.
"The average discount for 2017 was $2.50/mt, and with more PX supply in the market this year, it's quite incredible that there have been initial nominations at a premium to this year," a Singapore-based trader said.
Explaining the high level of some of the initial nominations, a Taiwanese end user said: "Discussions appear to be following the model of ACP negotiations, where initial nominations are usually $80-$100/mt higher than prevailing spot prices. Offers then come down on the final working day day of the month."
The move marks a departure from negotiations of previous years in the PX-PTA industry, when long-term contracts with suppliers were normally discussed individually, on a bilateral basis.
The tender assumes significance against the backdrop of increased PX supply this year, which will continue into 2018 with the Nghi Son petrochemical complex in Vietnam expected to start up in the first quarter, while Saudi Arabia's Petro Rabigh, a 1.34 million mt/year plant, is expected to commence operations by early Q3.
In the first nine months of 2017, Chinese imports of PX stood at 10.54 million mt, up 13.75% year on year, according to China Customs Service data.
India, the US, Northeast and Southeast Asia have all increased supplies of paraxyleneto China this year.
The recent weak PX-naphtha spread, which hit a 31-month low of $295.08/mt on October 27, was one of the main reasons that November ACP negotiations failed to result in a major settlement, the fourth such instance this year.