Fire at Alpek's Altamira Mexico PTA plant to impact Americas and Europe PET resin production

Following a major fire at Alpek's Altamira Mexico PTA plant, which broke out on Sunday 15th July, PCI Wood Mackenzie Head of PET, Phil Marshall, said:

"The fire occurred in one of Alpek's two PTA plants at the site, with each plant having a typical nameplate capacity of 500 kt of PTA.

"Although the extent of the damage is unknown at this time, videos and pictures from the site indicate significant damage which may keep at least one plant offline for an extended period of time. This outage is likely to negatively impact PET resin production in the Americas region as well as in Europe.

"Alpek's PTA plants at Altamira supply PTA to the adjacent M&G Mexico PET resin plant (now being operated by Alpek/DAK Americas), its sister company DAK Americans' PET resin plants at Pearl River Mississippi USA as well as exports to various South American and European polyester producers in Spain, Italy, Lithuania etc.

"This event comes at a particularly critical time for the Americas and European PET resin markets as both regions have been experiencing critically tight PET resin supply due to both PET resin and PTA plant outages." 

"Whilst the fire is alarming and will impact PTA production, the impact may not be as serious as first thought given that Alpek operates three PTA plants in Mexico and one in Brazil. It is still early to assess the duration of the asset outage but assuming it remains offline for the rest of the year, Mexican H2 2018 PTA production is forecast at 568kt v 673kt in H2 2017 as the other plants will see some increases in operating rate. Overall Mexican H2 2017 PTA operating rates averaged 80.6%, while we forecast H2 2018 to average 67.8%.

"The US is the biggest importer of Mexican PTA at 71kt in the first 4 months of 2018. We forecast H2 2018 Mexico PTA exports to be down by typically 110Kt when compared to H2 2017. Whether the majority of available exports will still be directed at the US remains to be seen. Once new steady state operating conditions are established, we forecast overall PET production in Mexico at similar levels to 2017, which saw disruption due to the M&G outage, but 115kt down on 2016 production."