China’s Dilemma – Paraxylene Shortfall vs. PTA Export Potential

Tecnon OrbiChem’s latest Analysis of World Paraxylene • DMT/PTA Markets puts into a global perspective the dilemma faced by Chinese PTA producers

The rapid global expansion in paraxylene capacity which started in 2009 has slowed in recent years. As a result, the world average capacity utilisation rate has been stable at around 75% from 2014 to 2016. However, the recent improved profitability of paraxylene production has revived interest in new paraxylene projects.

With limited new capacity coming on-stream in recent years, China still requires large volumes of imported paraxylene. China imported around 10.1 million tons in the first ten months of 2016, a small increase of about 4% over the same period in 2015. South Korea continues to export over 3 million tons per year and has become the largest paraxylene producing country in Asia. China is by far the largest importing country.

There is increasing pressure within China to reduce the paraxylene import dependence. But, with strong anti-paraxylene sentiment, on health and environmental grounds, amongst the Chinese public, paraxylene projects have become a sensitive topic in many cities. As a result, several refinery projects have been amended and will only produce mixed-xylenes, rather than paraxylene.

China currently accounts for over 50% of worldwide PTA capacity. Especially in the past several years, PTA capacity has expanded faster than demand and margins have been eroded. A continuing weakness in downstream polyester markets has led to delays and cancellations of new PTA projects and encouraged the rationalisation of older Asian capacity. It has also caused bankruptcy and integration amongst some Chinese and other Asian PTA producers.

Although Chinese PTA producers suffered losses for most of 2016, there have been no further PTA plant shutdowns since mid 2015. PTA supply and demand are balanced in the short term. Moreover, some previous idled PTA plants such as the former Zhejiang Yuandong and Chongqing Pengwei plans to restart in early 2017. The current balance may come under renewed pressure after these ‘new’ capacities start up.

PTA Producers Not Operating in Late 2016 


Capacity (ktpa)


PetroChina Liaoyang


Yangzi Petrochemical


Zhejiang Yisheng


Chongqing Pengwei


BP Zhuhai


Xianglu Petrochemical



Zhejiang Yuandong


Hanbang Petrochemical




Northeast Asia

SK Petrochemical, South Korea


Lotte Chemical, South Korea


CAPCO, Taiwan


Tuntex, Taiwan


FCFC, Taiwan


Mizushima Aroma, Japan


Hanwha, South Korea


Sam Nam Petrochemical




Trade data shows that countries such as Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, which were previously significant net exporters, now struggle to sell PTA to China and must focus instead on alternative markets. On the contrary, they might soon face competition from Chinese PTA producers in the coming years – if they can secure paraxylene feedstock.

S/Db-CHEM and World Analysis

Tecnon OrbiChem’s S/Db-CHEM is a truly comprehensive service, containing all the information you need on Polyester – Supply/Demand data, Trade flows, Consumption trends, Capacity listings and Historical prices.

  • Production, Consumption and Trade data are based on an analysis of historical data and forecasts out to 2025.
  • Historical trade flows are presented as country-to-country trade grids.
  • Capacity listings on a plant-by-plant basis give producer, owner and feedstock information.
  • Historical prices allow for construction of tables, charts and margins.

For more information please click on the title

Chemical Business Focus
The Chemical Business Focus provides a monthly market overview and analysis of the key factors influencing the market.

The Chemical Business Focus service comprises the following:

  • Monthly Consultancy Report: Expert commentary, price monitors, trade tables and full colour charts.
  • Supplementary Charts and Tables: Accessed directly on our website via hyperlinks in the report.
  • Historical Prices: 10 years available to download as Excel files from our website.
  • Plant & Project Reviews: Quarterly updates for key products.

Subscription includes email delivery and internet access for 5 users. Extra users can be added for UK£250 or 50% of subscription cost for unlimited users.

Click here to receive a sample for Polyester & Intermediates and PET Packaging Resin Chemical Business
Roger Lee
Managing Director
Phone: +44 207 924 3955

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s