Review of plasticizer industry chain in 2022

Product diagram of plasticizer industry chain


From the product diagram of the plasticizer industry chain, it can be seen that the plasticizer is close to the terminal in the plasticizer industry chain, and the downstream products are mainly terminal consumer goods. In terms of upstream raw materials, the main raw materials of the plasticizer products are phthalic anhydride, isooctanol, n-butanol and PTA, while the raw materials OX, PX and propylene of these products are the downstream products of naphtha. The upstream raw materials of plasticizer products are relatively concentrated. The cost of raw materials is the main factor affecting the trend of plasticizer products.


In terms of plasticizer products, there are a wide variety of plasticizer products. At the research stage, there are as many as 1000 types of plasticizers, 300 types of industrial production, and more than 100 types of plasticizers widely used in the market. These plasticizers are competitive products, which can be replaced or used together. The downstream uses of plasticizers are wide, mainly including PVC products, plastic films, wires and cables, medical devices, etc.


Analysis of market trend of plasticizer industry chain products in 2022


Phthalic anhydride market in 2022


In 2022, phthalic anhydride rose by 12.20% in a M-shaped shock. The average price of phthalic anhydride on October 16 was 10637.5 yuan/ton, which was the highest price in the year. The lowest price was 7175 yuan/ton on January 1, with the maximum amplitude of 48.26% in the year.


In 2022, the capacity of phthalic anhydride will be about 3.7 million tons. The main uses include plasticizer and unsaturated resin industry, with plasticizer accounting for 47% and unsaturated resin accounting for 26%. The domestic phthalic anhydride market has a serious overcapacity. In addition, naphthalene phthalic anhydride continues to increase production capacity, and orthophthalic anhydride has been suppressed to some extent. The proportion of o-phthalic anhydride in plasticizer raw materials is weakened, and the correlation between phthalic anhydride and DOP is low. The correlation coefficient between phthalic anhydride and DOP is 0.003 in 2022.


Isooctanol market in 2022


In 2022, the price of isooctanol dropped by 3.95% annually. In 2022, the lowest price point is 8066.67 yuan/ton in mid-July, and the highest price point is 14533.33 yuan/ton in early February, with the annual maximum amplitude of 44.50%.


In 2022, the production capacity of isooctanol is about 2.35 million tons, and the downstream is mainly DOP, DOTP, and octyl acrylate, accounting for 97%. The main use of isooctanol is plasticizer, and isooctanol is highly positively correlated with plasticizer. The correlation coefficient between isooctanol and DOP in 2022 is 0.960.


Market of n-butanol in 2022


In 2022, n-butanol was adjusted in a wide range, with a drop of 1.61%. The highest annual price was 11933 yuan/ton on February 9, and the lowest annual price was 6566 yuan/ton on August 29, with an annual maximum amplitude of 44.97%.

In 2018, the capacity expansion of the n-butanol industry slowed down. In 2021, only one 40000 ton unit was put into operation, and the domestic n-butanol operating rate was more than 90%. n-butanol was mainly used to manufacture phthalate, aliphatic dicarboxylic acid and phosphoric acid n-butyl ester plasticizers. The correlation coefficient between n-butanol and DOP is 0.878.


PTA market in 2022


In 2022, PTA prices rose by 13.16% due to M-type shocks. The highest point was 7751 yuan/ton on June 9, and the lowest point was 4963 yuan/ton at the beginning of the year, with a maximum amplitude of 56.19%. From 2020 to 2022, PTA will increase its annual production capacity by 8.3 million tons; It is estimated that 14.5 million tons of new capacity will be produced in 2023. In response to the substantial increase in production capacity, PTA processing costs fell sharply. From January to November 2022, PTA’s average annual processing costs were 482 yuan/ton. Only a few enterprises made profits, and PTA enterprises were forced to repair and reduce the burden. In 2022, the production capacity increased significantly, but the actual PTA production growth in 2022 was limited.


PTA is mainly used to produce polyester fiber, polyester bottle and polyester film. In the domestic market, 75% of PTA is used to produce polyester fiber; 20% for bottle grade polyester; 5% is used for film-grade polyester, and the plasticizer in the downstream of PTA is relatively small. The correlation between PTA and DOP is low, and the correlation coefficient between PTA and DOP is 0.171.


DOP market in 2022


Chitosan oligosaccharide

In 2022, the price of DOP was adjusted in a wide range, and the price of the whole year fell slightly, by 0.26%. The highest price in the year was 13400 yuan/ton on February 8, and the lowest price was 8775 yuan/ton on July 18, with a maximum amplitude of 34.51%. Good news and bad news mixed, and plasticizer prices fluctuated and consolidated in a wide range during the year.


Market trend of plasticizer products in 2022


The trend of plasticizers in 2022 can be divided into four stages: from January to March, the rapid rise stage, and February 8, the highest level in 2022. The Russian-Uzbekistan conflict intensified as a result of dual-scheduled goods preparation, limited production and transportation during the Winter Olympics, and the sharp rise in crude oil. From April to the middle of June, the high level fluctuated and consolidated. The epidemic in Shanghai has led to a decline in construction, poor demand and insufficient support for the rise; Strengthened prevention and control, limited transportation, equipment maintenance, multiple benefits stimulate the high price fluctuation adjustment of plasticizers. From mid-June to July, the off-season plummeted. The demand was insufficient, the epidemic situation improved, and the start of construction rose and transportation resumed. DOP fell 25.47%, DOTP fell 26.23%, and DBP fell 14.93%. From August to December, the low level fluctuated and consolidated. Electricity is limited and the peak season is not prosperous.


Analysis of influencing factors of plasticizer industry chain


Cost factor analysis


It can be seen from the comparison chart of the price trend of plasticizer products and raw material products that the price trend of isooctanol is basically the same as that of plasticizer DOP, DOTP and DBP, with a high positive correlation. The price trend of phthalic anhydride and PTA has little correlation with the trend of plasticizer products, and has little impact on the price trend of downstream plasticizers. The price trend of n-butanol and DBP have a high positive correlation. It can be seen from the product correlation that the price trend of isooctanol and n-butanol has the greatest impact on plasticizer products. The price trend of plasticizer products in the future should focus on the price trend of isooctanol and n-butanol.


Proportion change of plasticizer products


From the proportion of plasticizers, it can be seen that the proportion of DOP decreased significantly, the proportion of DOTP increased significantly, and the proportion of other environment-friendly plasticizers also increased to a certain extent. DOP: In 2002, China’s DOP capacity was about 2.9 million tons, and nearly 1/3 of the units could not operate normally, and the DOP operating rate was about 50%. Mainly used for PVC related products. DOTP: The production capacity increased from 1.05 million tons in 2015 to 3.04 million tons in 2022, with an increase of 1.99 million tons, nearly doubling. DBP: The capacity reached the peak of 1.05 million tons/year in 2015, and then contracted. In 2022, DBP capacity contracted to 850000 tons (including some long-term shutdown devices).


Import and export volume of plasticizers in 2022


The import volume of plasticizers decreased and the export volume increased. The import volume of DOP accounts for the largest proportion of plasticizers. The import volume has decreased significantly year by year, while the export volume has increased slowly year by year. The export volume of DOTP is basically zero, while the import volume is relatively stable. The import and export volume of DBP is relatively the smallest, among which the export volume is slowly decreasing and the import volume is basically not.


Production of plastic products in 2022


The downstream of plasticizer is mainly used to produce PVC products. In 2022, the total output of plastic products will be 70.833 million tons, down 3.9% year on year; The output of plastic products fell, the demand for plasticizers fell, and the rise of plasticizer products in 2022 was not supported enough.


Export volume of plasticized PVC products in 2022


In 2022, the import volume of plasticized PVC products will be lower than the export volume. In 2022, the import volume of plasticized PVC products decreased slightly year-on-year, which was significantly lower than that in 2020. After the epidemic, the import volume of plasticized PVC products decreased year by year. In 2022, the export volume of plasticized PVC products increased significantly year-on-year, and the export volume has increased steadily since 2020. Exports increased, imports decreased, the demand for plasticized PVC products increased, and the demand for plasticizers increased. Since the fourth quarter of 2020, the price of plasticizers has remained relatively high, and the increase in export demand is one of the important reasons.


Future prospects


Gamma-PGA (gamma polyglutamic acid)

According to DOP data analysts of the Business Agency, in 2022, the production and transportation restrictions of the Winter Olympics, the energy crisis, the crisis in Ukraine and Russia, and the epidemic situation were frequent, and the pros and cons were mixed. In 2022, the price of the plasticizer industry chain was adjusted in a wide range of shocks. The supply and demand of plasticizer industry chain is relatively balanced, and the price of plasticizer industry chain products is relatively stable throughout the year. The prices of isooctanol, n-butanol, DOP, DOTP, DBP and other industrial chain products fell slightly.


In 2023, worries about economic weakness intensified, domestic epidemic prevention and control were fully relaxed, domestic economic stimulus policies continued, and both sides were intertwined. In 2023, the market may show international economic weakness, and the domestic economy will recover.


In the future, the short-term annual close is approaching, the downstream stock of plasticizers has ended, the downstream enterprises have more holidays in advance, the demand for plasticizers before the holiday is insufficient, the price of plasticizers before the holiday is stable, the downstream stock replenishment increases after the holiday, and the plasticizers may rise briefly.


In the long run, in the post-epidemic era, the weakness of the foreign market economy continued, the demand for plasticizers weakened, and the expected recovery of the domestic economy had a positive support for plasticizers, but the positive was not enough to support the continuous rise of plasticizer prices. Since the fourth quarter of 2020, the price of plasticizers has remained high, which is mainly affected by the increase in exports after the outbreak of the epidemic. In 2023, the fear of foreign economic weakness has intensified, and exports may decline significantly. The price of plasticizers for the whole year of 2023 is expected to decline.