The supply of paraxylene (PX) to get a boost in 2019 from Asia. Two large capacity manufacturing units are coming in the Chinese soil this year. Hengli Group and Zhejiang Petrochemical Corporation are the two groups which have expanded their capacity this year. The Hengli Group will be capable of producing 4.5m tonnes/year of PX. The Zhejiang Petrochemical Corporation will be producing 4.0m tonnes/year of PX.
Polyester fibres and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) use terephthalic acid (PTA) for their production. Paraxylene (PX) is used as a feedstock for terephthalic acid (PTA). Most of PX (around 98%) goes to TA or dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) production.
China is the main place for PX demand globally. They depend on imports due to the short supply of PX from the local area. China produces a significant amount of PTA globally. It accounts for 57% of the total production. China imported around 14.4m tonnes of PX in the year 2017. From January to November 2018, China imported 14.3m tonnes. With the new capacity augmentation by two Chinese majors, the imports are expected to fall this year.
Another major, Sinopec is planning a new 800000 tonnes/year PX unit. It is expected to operate from the third quarter of 2019. The plant is located in Hainan. Mixed Xylene is its main feedstock. With the increase in the PX margin, two idle PX capacities restarted from the end of 2018.
Trans-Pacific Petrochemical Indotama (TPPI) of Indonesia restarted in October 2018. Its production capacity is 550,000 tonnes/year PX units. The unit was shut down from May 2014.
Fuhaichuang Petrochemical, formerly Dragon Aromatics (Zhangzhou) from China restarted 800,000 tonnes/year PX productions. The capacity restarted from 25 December 2018. Another PX line is expected to start again in January 2019. Both the units were shut down after a massive fire in April 2015.
In the last two years, the PX area saw a double-digit growth mainly from downstream Chinese PTA and polyester production requirement. The PX demand will still increase in 2019 which boost PX production. Once all the capacity augmented plant is operational, the supply surpasses the demand. Further, there will be less new PTA facilities in 2019. But the shutdown of Chevron Philips Chemical’s 495,000 tonnes/year PX unit will relieve the supply stress.