Published October 2015
This report presents data on xylenes in four major sections-mixed xylenes, para-xylene, ortho-xylene and meta-xylene. Each section covers the major producing regions, producing companies, production and sales, consumption, price, and trade.
Mixed xylenes are the second-most-important aromatic product in terms of world consumption for chemical manufacture, ranking behind benzene and ahead of toluene. The term mixed xylenes refers to the equilibrium mixture of four isomers with the same C8H10 chemical formula.
Mixed xylenes contain a blend of para-, ortho-, and meta- isomers with other components, such as ethylbenzene. This material is the feedstock from which the three xylene isomers are obtained. The composition may vary, but typically is rich in m-xylene, the least valuable component. By isolating the desired components from the mixed xylenes stream via distillation, crystallization or selective adsorption processes, then isomerizing and recycling the balance of the stream, the mixed xylenes stream can be processed to extinction to produce only the component(s) needed to satisfy demand for each of the isomers.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of xylenes:
The past 15 years have seen substantial investment in mixed xylenes capacity, primarily for use in p-xylene. These investments have been located mainly in Northeast Asia, which has a high concentration of polyester capacity. The largest mixed xylenes producing regions based on 2015 (installed) capacity are Asia about (69%) and North America (13.5%).
The Asian market, with its large population, growing demand for polyester fiber (fibers, fabrics, and floor coverings) and polyester resins (beverage containers) and corresponding growth in the polyester industry, is solidifying its position as the center of influence for the mixed xylenes market.
In the next five years, almost 66% of the global capacity additions are expected to be located in Asia (including India). Almost all new mixed xylenes capacity will be integrated p-xylene complexes. Consumption of p-xylene accounted for 81% of 2015 global mixed xylenes demand. Asia is the largest p-xylene producing region, with nearly 74% of capacity in 2015; North America has 10% and Western Europe less than 5% of world p-xylene capacity. A significant amount of p-xylene is traded but the start-up of new capacity in Asia, India, and the Middle East will alter traditional trade flows. US exports will diminish while Middle Eastern and Indian exports will increase. Additionally, there is considerable intraregional trade within Asia, as Japan and South Korea are major exporters and China is a major importer. As a result of tremendous consumption growth, China will continue to be a major importer of p-xylene, even with a substantial amount of added capacity in the forecast period. From 2015 to 2020, the p-xylene capacity in China will increase at 0.8% per year, considerably slower than the 9.6% for 2010–15. However, the future growth rate is based only on announced capacity additions with no speculative capacity included. Other regions, such as the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, will have faster p-xylene capacity growth during this period, but from a much smaller base than China.
ExxonMobil Chemical is the largest producer of mixed xylenes in the world; it has operations in North America, Western Europe and Southeast Asia. The second-largest producer, JX Nippon, operates only in Japan, while the next-largest, Reliance, operates only in India. In 2012, BP was the fourth-largest producer; however, later it agreed to sell a majority of its North American mixed xylenes capacity to Marathon Petroleum.
During 2010–15 consumption of mixed xylenes increased at an average annual rate of about 3.5%. During the same period, capacity expanded by 23%. In the next five years (2015–20), consumption is expected to increase at an average annual rate of about 4.5%, while capacity additions are expected to grow by 21%. Operating rates are expected to improve.