O-Xylene: Overall Production May Decline in 2022
Click:0    DateTime:Dec.06,2022

By Lu Jundian, Liu Xiaojie, Chen Erzhong, Jia Ting, Li Jieyi, Shenyang Research Institute of Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.

     Production analysis and forecast

In 2021, the production capacity of China's o-xylene remained stable at 1.587 million t/a, with an output of 1.215 million tons. There were 13 o-xylene manufacturers in China, and the largest was Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical Co., Ltd., with a production capacity of 260 000 t/a. Figure 1 shows the production capacity, output and operating load rate of China's o-xylene from 2017 to 2021.


Figure 1 The production capacity, output and operating load rate of China's o-xylene 2017-2021

The downstream of o-xylene is relatively simple, and its downstream o-xylene oxidation phthalic anhydride has excess capacity. In addition, naphthalene oxidation phthalic anhydride has squeezed some share of o-xylene oxidation phthalic anhydride, so it is difficult to increase the demand of o-xylene in the later stage. At present, there are no large petrochemical companies having plans to add or expand production, and the production capacity of o-xylene may not have big change in the future. Table 1 shows the production condition of o-xylene in China in 2021.


Market analysis and forecast

From 2017 to 2021, the output of o-xylene in China generally showed a slow upward trend. Table 2 shows the balance of supply and demand of o-xylene in China from 2017 to 2021.


     O-xylene can be used in the production of phthalic anhydride, dyes, pesticides and drugs, such as vitamins, etc. It can also be used as an aviation gasoline additive. 95% of o-xylene is used for o-xylene oxidation phthalic anhydride. With the increased production capacity of o-xylene in recent years and the decline of downstream o-xylene oxidation phthalic anhydride production capacity, the supply capacity of o-xylene has continued to increase, and the situation of short supply in previous years has been changed. The gap between the supply and demand has narrowed. In addition, with the reducing of o-xylene oxidation phthalic anhydride profits in domestic market, its production enthusiasm may decline in the future. The tight supply of o-xylene is expected to become oversupply in the future. It is expected that the production capacity of o-xylene will remain stable in 2022. However, there were three o-xylene plants planned to have maintenance in the first half of the year, and the duration was long, so the overall output in 2022 may decline.

Price analysis and forecast

1. Markets move higher in 2021
In 2021, China's o-xylene market showed a fluctuating upward trend, and the overall market was higher than in 2020. Taking the East China market as an example, the average price of o-xylene in 2021 was RMB6 216/ton, a year-on-year increase of 19.5%. See Figure 2 for details on the price trend of o-xylene in East China in 2021.


Figure 2 The price trend of o-xylene in East China in 2021  

      2. 2022 forecast
     The domestic supply of o-xylene in the first half of this year was greatly reduced due to the maintenance of three o-xylene units, and the imported volume increased compared with the same period of previous years. Based on the favorable supply condition in the first half of the year, the o-xylene market had a relatively sharp increase, and o-xylene oxidation phthalic anhydride may rise accordingly. However, there may be inversion of price situation (purchasing prices higher than selling prices) in the later period, which is expected to continue to the middle of the year. Based on the high level of the first half of the year, there may be a retracement in the second half of the year.

Import and export analysis and forecast

     In 2021, China's o-xylene needed to import a certain amount (178 000 tons) to meet the market demand. From the perspective of exports, only a small amount (5 000 tons) of products were exported to surrounding countries and regions. See Tables 3 and 4 for details.



     In 2021, the import volume of China's o-xylene was 178 000 tons, a year-on-year decrease of 4.8%, and the export volume was 5 000 tons. The import volume is expected to have a slight increase in 2022.