Tight supply in PTA market could impact US PET production: sources

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Houston — Tightness in the purified terephthalic acid (PTA) market has the potential to impact PET production, sources have said this week.

PTA supplies in the US have been tight following an announcement by BP in early June that it would implement a sales allocation on PTA out of its Cooper River, , site.

The company was heard to have initially announced allocation at 45% and was heard to have subsequently raised those to 70%. Sources said the company was looking to reach 100% by the end of July but others suggested those may not be reached until August. BP has an estimated PTA capacity of near 1.5 million at Cooper River.

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Availability has been further constrained following news of a fire at Alpek’s Altamira PTA site this past weekend. Details on the extent of the damage were scant however sources said that production at the site had been impacted. Alpek has two PTA lines at Altamira with an estimated PTA capacity capacity of 500,000 mt each.

While there was no immediate word on how the fire has impacted production, sources in the US PET market noted that it could be disruptive to production.

“Our production has not been impacted so far however if Alpek declares force majeure, we may have to re-evaluate,” a producer source said, adding that the company may have to bring in PTA from either Europe or Asia.

PTA demand in the US was characterized as strong this week amid peak seasonal PET associated with the bottling season. Sources said, demand for PTA could improve further when Far Eastern brings up its 360,000 mt/year PET facility at Apple Grove, West Virginia. The restart would translate into a PTA requirement of over 300,000 mt, according to S&P Global Platts estimates.

In addition to its impact on the US PET market, sources have noted that the diminished PTA production in the US and could pressure feedstock paraxylene prices lower. A decline in paraxylene prices could have a negative impact on MSTDP margins in the US, which have recently clawed their way back into positive territory and were estimated at near $31/mt on a spot basis.

–Kevin Allen, kevin.allen@spglobal.com

–Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com

Source: S&P Global Platts