Weak demand pre-Lunar New Year break leads to slump in China Feb petchem imports

01-Apr-10
China’s petrochemical imports significantly declined in February due to sluggish demand in the weeks leading to the Lunar New Year holidays, as per ICIS. Working days last month were shortened by the week-long celebration in China from 13-21 February. Buying interest for February cargoes was also dampened by China’s credit tightening measures that were introduced in mid January. Concerns about domestic consumption were rife as authorities try to curb the growth in new loans. Also, the figures were comparatively higher in 2009 as that was a time when China’s economy was recovering faster than other economies. Downstream users in China imported more cargoes and built stocks in 2009 on the back of lower product prices along with low crude values. Volume intake is expected to improve this month from February 2010 on improved domestic demand, but it is unclear whether the volume will exceed levels of March 2009. As some downstream plants could hike operating rates gradually, it could lead to higher demand for imported petrochemical raw materials. China imported 22% less linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) in February at 177,697 tons compared to the same period last year and down 21% from January levels, based on data from China Customs. Polvinyl chloride (PVC) imports plummeted 55% y-o-y to 99,230 tons last month, down 19% from January. Imports of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) into China fell 10% y-o-y to 371,975 tons, while the total volumes of monoethylene glycol (MEG) that entered China declined 8% to 461,117 tons. PTA imports were significantly affected by China's imposition of a provisional anti-dumping duty (ADD) on material coming from South Korea and Thailand.
Feb-10ImportExport
ProductImport
(tonnes)
YoY growth
(%)
MoM growth
(%)
Export
(tonnes)
YoY growth
(%)
MoM growth
(%)
Naphtha246,76526%-17%78,55344%7%
Olefins      
Product      
Ethylene65,697-27%-8%14,306 -80%
Propylene116,004-17%-14%3,000  
Butadiene32,415-10%-12%2,20723%-13%
Polymers      
Product      
HDPE259,787-16%-28%1,444-24%-37%
LDPE126,1819%-17%1,293-10%-19%
LLDPE177,697-22%-21%231-20%-16%
PP271,575-7%-20%3,56533%-36%
PVC99,230-55%-19%17,075292%23%
       
PS4,381-14%-19%11,563-31%-22%
Aromatics      
Product      
Benzene8,963-93%1%1,100-62%-88%
Toluene62,075-13%-20%148-31%-31%
MX4-43%-100%54145%-5%
PX281,917-17%8%34,76927%57%
Intermediates      
Product      
SM267,364-1%-6%34-44%-99%
PTA371,975-10%-20%0  
MEG461,117-8%-15%103-34%-58%
ACN40,24329%83%0  
Caprolactam56,94830%3%1-98%43%
Phenol61,3239%31%2,002285900%16583%
Intermediates      
Product      
Methanol346,307-41%57%3,9021553%4188%
Acetone65,15418%17%42180%56%
BPA30,836-12%-3%11450%38%
IPA11,48632%-24%16-84%-89%
MEK1,875-35%-27%1,665-1%12708%
Base oil137,21095%-31%1,102270%-91%
MMA137,21095%-31%1,102270%-91%
PMMA17,21287%-12%76518%-37%
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