Lanxess has restarted production of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) on the back of improved supply of PTA. The European PBT market has suffered severe shortages since the first quarter. The last blow saw issues with the key raw material, purified terephthalic acid (PTA).
This shutdown was the last in a string of events that had already put a tremendous squeeze on supply of PBT. A sharp decrease in imports, the shortages and high prices of 1,4-butanediol, and logistic issues had all contributed to tighten availability.
The critical shortages amid good demand contributed to a steep climb in PBT prices in the second quarter, which trebled for some buyers.
However, buyers received some positive news at the end of May. Lanxess in a recent note said it was able to source quantities of PTA from alternative sources. This has enabled polymerization to restart, increasing the chances for a restart of its compounding lines.
What is more, the major producer that had suffered production problems on PTA has also reportedly restarted. However, operating rates were still low. But this could not be confirmed.
With market sources pointing also to better availability of imports and at much lower prices from the peak, the PBT market could soon come out of the critical situation experienced since the first quarter.■