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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Asian isomer-MX plunges as supply rises on end-users’ turnaround season

The FOB Korea isomer-MX marker plunged $51/mt to its lowest in more than a month, mainly under the weight of a rising glut in supply as end-users enter turnaround season.

Platts assessed FOB Korea isomer-MX at $650/mt Monday, March 16, its lowest since February 2 when it was assessed at $598/mt.

The fall of $51/mt, or 7.3%, from the previous trading day was also the largest day-on-day fall seen since November 28, 2014, when the marker fell $61/mt on day to $759/mt, Platts data showed.

The sharp fall in isomer-MX was largely attributed to an expected huge increase in spot supply, as end-user PX plants head into turnaround season over April to May.

“There are around 10-15 cargoes available in April, and 20-25 cargoes available in May, without counting supply from isomer-MX producers like GS-Caltex and SKGC [SK Global Chemical], who may choose to sell or build up their inventories, depending on the supply situation,” a market source noted.

Major PX producer South Korea’s Hyundai Cosmo Petrochemical, plans to shut its No. 1 and No. 2 PX plants at Daesan, with a combined PX capacity of 1.18 million mt/year, in late April for a 30-day turnaround.

And at Onsan, S-Oil’s No. 2 aromatics plant is currently undergoing maintenance that will last until end-April.

The No. 2 aromatics plant can produce 900,000 mt/year of PX.

Meanwhile, the sharp fall in isomer-MX prices have widened the spread between FOB Korea PX and isomer-MX markers to a six-week high of $162/mt Monday, but still well below the breakeven level of $180-$230/mt that most PX producers require.

The spread was last wider on February 3, when it was at $163/mt.

– Platts.com

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