In Asia, latest official data showed Singapore’s petrochemical exports surged by 51.4% year on year to Singapore dollar ($) 1.59bn in March, supporting the increase in overall non-oil domestic exports (NODX).
The city-state’s NODX rose by 12.1% year on year in March to S$17.8bn, accelerating from the 4.2% expansion in February, according to Enterprise Singapore.
Singapore’s non-electronic NODX, which includes petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, rose by 9.4% year on year to $14.3bn in March.
Separately, Singapore’s economy grew by 0.2% year on year in the first quarter, the country’s first economic growth since the fourth quarter of 2019 amid continued expansion in the manufacturing sector, official preliminary data showed.
The year-on-year expansion in the first quarter reverses the 2.4% contraction in the fourth quarter of last year, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a statement.
On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted basis, the economy expanded by 2.0%, extending the 3.8% expansion in the preceding quarter.
Meanwhile, China appears to be refocusing on controlling debts as concerns over commodity-price inflation reach senior government levels. (Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson.)
The outlook for China’s export growth in 2021 remains extremely uncertain because of the potential cycle out of demand for the goods and services we required at the height of the pandemic into Old World spending.
Equally unclear is the impact of developed-world government spending on local economies and thus China’s key export trade.
Will consumers spend more than they save from further government handouts? To what extent will major infrastructure spending in the developed world boost economies?
Scenario planning has, of course, always been an essential tool for estimating petrochemicals demand. Now it is even more important given today’s levels of uncertainty.
CNOOC and Shell Petrochemicals Company (CSPC) has started up new styrene monomer/propylene oxide (SMPO) and polyols units at its complex in Huizhou, China.
The new SM/PO unit at the site produces up to 630,000 tonnes/year of SM and 300,000 tonnes/year of PO, while three further new units process PO into 600,000 tonnes/year of polyols.
The new SM/PO unit is the second of its kind built at the complex and uses Shell’s own process technology.
The No 1 SM/PO unit produces 700,000 tonnes/year of SM and 320,000 tonnes/year of PO, according to the ICIS Demand & Supply Database.
In India, petrochemical trades are being weighed down by a fresh wave of restrictions on businesses to stem the spike in coronavirus cases in the country, accompanied by a plunging rupee that makes imports more expensive.
There are concerns that a demand crash is imminent, which will be aggravated by rising import costs caused by the rupee depreciation.
Maharashtra – which accounts for about a quarter of India’s more than 13.8m confirmed COVID-19 cases, and nearly 40% of the country’s death toll from the pandemic – is placed under a 15-day lockdown from Wednesday.
The state, which is home to the financial hub of Mumbai, recorded more than 60,000 new daily cases on 13 April along with nearly 300 deaths.
Other states across the country have also started imposing restrictions of varying degrees since early March which are expected to hit India’s overall industrial production, and possibly derail its recovery process from last year’s pandemic-induced slump.
In the Middle East, petrochemical supply conditions are mixed, with trade limited for some products while cargo availability is tight when it comes to base oils, polyols and polystyrene in the first week of Ramadan.
The bulk of the region’s polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) business for April in the Middle East has been completed before the Muslim fasting month started on 12 April.
Demand is set to taper off due to shorter working hours in place in most Middle Eastern countries during Ramadan, which will end with the Eid ul-Fitr holiday.
Markets across the region are generally expected to pick up pace around mid-May.
In the East Mediterranean market, demand remains restricted with purchases being done on a need-to basis amid a sharp resurgence in coronavirus cases in Jordan and Lebanon.
With regards to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), imports Asian cargoes into the Middle East have slowed down.
Swiss Sika expanded its production capacity for concrete admixtures and has started manufacturing epoxy resins in Doha, Qatar.
The expansion project will “help Sika to continue building its business in this fast-growing region so that it can benefit from the dynamic development in the construction market”, the company said in a statement. Financial and capacity details of the project were not disclosed.
Meanwhile, don’t miss the podcast by Will Beacham who dicussed with John Richardson, Nigel Davis and Paul Hodges on post-pandemic patterns of chemicals demand that will break the traditional link to GDP; this means new models are needed to measure and analyse market trends.
In another podcast interview, market experts Zachary Moore, Bill Bowen and Antoinette Smith discussed about ethylene derivatives – polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and mono ethylene glycol (MEG) – that took hard hit from rising feedstock prices and the February winter storm in Texas.
The impact is continuing to have pricing effects on downstream products which faced upwards pressure amid rising feedstock costs.
Most of the PE plants that had been shut down following the mid-February winter storm have since restarted, although average operating rates remain below normal due to lingering shortages of ethylene feedstock.
According to data from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and Vault Consulting, PE inventory levels declined by 16.9% in February from January as strong demand and widespread outages caused a significant stock drawdown.
The February freeze knocked out as much as 74% of US PVC production capacity and moved an already thinly supplied market to critically short.
US crackers will eventually be fuelled by hydrogen rather than natural gas as the main energy source to significantly bring down their carbon footprint, the former CEO of Equate and MEGlobal said.
“What I think will happen in the US is a lot of the crackers will go to hydrogen as their fuel because crackers are huge consumers of energy. And once hydrogen becomes the driver, the plastic itself becomes a lot greener in terms of its carbon footprint,” said Ramesh Ramachandran in an interview with ICIS.
Ramachandran was CEO of Kuwait-based polyethylene (PE) producer EQUATE from 2017-2020 and CEO of UAE-based ethylene glycols (EG) producer MEGlobal from 2009-2017. He is now principal at consultancy MEGVIN Advisors.
He also said the chemical industry must accelerate investment in plastics recycling to achieve scale as activist and government pressures mount.
“Both the activists and the industry are in full agreement on the clear and present danger posed by plastic waste. However, I think the pace of change is too slow – industry has to move a lot faster before society looks to the producers as the problem and who have to fix it,” said Ramachandran in an interview with ICIS.
“If the industry wants to double in capacity in 5-10 years without a clear solution in 2-3 years for plastic waste, this will not end well for industry. Policy, fines and taxes will beat them to the punch,” he added.
Adding recycled content to plastics coming out of downstream units would further improve the environmental profile of the crackers, he noted.
Brazil started its 79th biodiesel auction on Wednesday after the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuel (ANP) temporarily suspended it on 6 April amid elevated biodiesel prices in the country.
The auction is expected to finish by the end of the week.
The auction is being held after the government decided to temporarily reduce the obligatory blending mandate of the biofuel into diesel during the May-June delivery period from 13% to 10% on 9 April.
Glycerine sources said the temporary reduction in the blending mandate is expected to reduce Brazil’s glycerine supply by 13,000-15,000 tonnes/month during the delivery period.
This volume is equal to the approximate volume of glycerine exported from the country to China monthly, said a major trader.
Although isopropanol (IPA) imports for the most recently available month declined, US domestic supply improved following news of more favourable sales allocation numbers for buyers.
This should continue to lengthen supply of IPA in the US because most buyers purchase domestically.
While IPA did not endure the tightness of markets such as butyl acetate (butac) or monopropylene glycol (MPG) after winter storm Uri in mid-February, there were production issues at two Gulf producers – LyondellBasell and Monument Chemical – which declared force majeure in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
Now, according to a customer letter, as of early April, LyondellBasell is increasing its allocation volumes to 100% for customers. Allocations will be determined by a six-month average from August 2020 to January 2021.
In Europe, larger German chemicals firms are pushing for a more direct role in the deployment of vaccines in Germany, while the country’s chemicals major BASF has received the green light for a pilot project to inoculate employees at Ludwigshafen flagship site.
With the rollout of vaccines in Germany lagging behind many of its peers, including the US and UK, German industrial players have been pushing for a stronger role in the programme, under a mooted initiative known as Arbeitsmedizinischer Dienst, or “company doctor”.
Germany’s government has ordered employers to offer workers at least one coronavirus test a week, at employer’s expense, effective 19 April.
The measure comes as the country keeps struggling with the pandemic’s third wave and tight vaccine supplies.
Germany’s economic recovery is on the horizon but renewed shutdowns and slow vaccination rollouts may act as a roadblock, a cohort of economic researchers on Thursday.
The Joint Economic Forecast anticipates that German GDP will increase by 3.7% in 2021, followed by a further 3.9% in 2022, with normal output levels expected around the start of the coming year.
Relief has been delayed in early 2021 due to the new wave of coronavirus cases and the lockdown measures implemented to stop the further spread of infection.
German utility Uniper announced on Wednesday plans to establish a German national hub for hydrogen in Wilhelmshaven which will have an import terminal for green ammonia.
The “Green Wilhelmshaven” terminal will feature an ammonia cracker for producing green hydrogen and will also be connected to the planned hydrogen network, Uniper said in a statement.
A 410MW electrolysis plant is also proposed for the Wilhelmshaven site, which in combination with the import terminal would be capable of supplying around 295,000 tonnes/year of hydrogen – or 10% of the demand expected for the whole of Germany in 2030.
On this topic page we analyse the impact of coronavirus and oil price dynamics on chemical markets and bring together the latest news reported by ICIS. To visit the ICIS energy markets topic page, click here.
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Singapore’s petrochemical exports surge 51% in March; NODX up 12%
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/04/16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore’s petrochemical exports surged by 51.4% year on year to Singapore dollar ($) 1.59bn in March, supporting the increase in overall non-oil domestic exports (NODX), Enterprise Singapore said in a statement.
BLOG: China government focus changes to reigning in credit, controlling debts
By ICIS Editorial 2021/04/16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson. China appears to be refocusing on controlling debts as concerns over commodity-price inflation reach senior government levels.
Brazil starts 79th biodiesel auction after lowering obligatory blending mandate to 10%
By Lucas Hall 2021/04/15 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Brazil started its 79th biodiesel auction on Wednesday after the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuel (ANP) temporarily suspended it on 6 April amid elevated biodiesel prices in the country.
Mideast petrochemical supply mixed; demand slows amid Ramadan
By Felicia Loo 2021/04/15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Petrochemical supply conditions are mixed in the Middle East, with trade limited for some products while cargo availability is tight when it comes to base oils, polyols and polystyrene in the first week of Ramadan.
China’s CSPC starts up SM/PO, polyols units in Huizhou
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/04/14 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–CNOOC and Shell Petrochemicals Company (CSPC) has started up new styrene monomer/propylene oxide (SMPO) and polyols units at its complex in Huizhou, China, the producer said on Wednesday.
India petrochemical trades slow down on fresh restrictions, weak rupee
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/04/14 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Petrochemical trades in India are being weighed down by a fresh wave of restrictions on businesses to stem the spike in coronavirus cases in the south Asian nation, accompanied by a plunging rupee that makes imports more expensive.
Singapore’s Q1 economy grows 0.2% amid manufacturing expansion
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/04/14 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore’s economy grew by 0.2% year on year in the first quarter, the country’s first economic growth since the fourth quarter of 2019 amid continued expansion in the manufacturing sector, official preliminary data showed on Wednesday.
US crackers will be fuelled by hydrogen to reduce carbon footprint
By Joseph Chang 2021/04/14 NEW YORK (ICIS)–US crackers will eventually be fuelled by hydrogen rather than natural gas as the main energy source to significantly bring down their carbon footprint, the former CEO of Equate and MEGlobal said.
Uniper eyes hydrogen hub in Germany, drops LNG terminal
By ICIS Editorial 2021/04/15 LONDON (ICIS)–German utility Uniper announced on Wednesday plans to establish a German national hub for hydrogen in Wilhelmshaven which will have an import terminal for green ammonia.
Germany orders employers to offer coronavirus testing
By Stefan Baumgarten 2021/04/15 LONDON (ICIS)–Germany’s government has ordered employers to offer workers at least one coronavirus test a week, at employer’s expense, effective 19 April.
German chemicals firms push for role in vaccination drive
By Tom Brown 2021/04/15 LONDON (ICIS)–Larger German chemicals firms are pushing for a more direct role in the deployment of vaccines in Germany, while the country’s chemicals major BASF has received the green light for a pilot project to inoculate employees at Ludwigshafen flagship site.
German economic recovery slow and steady as lockdowns cause short-term delays
By Morgan Condon 2021/04/15 LONDON (ICIS)–Germany’s economic recovery is on the horizon but renewed shutdowns and slow vaccination rollouts may act as a roadblock, a cohort of economic researchers on Thursday.
PODCAST: Pandemic has broken link to GDP for chemicals demand, new models required
By Will Beacham 2021/04/13 Tune in to the podcast by Will Beacham who discussed with John Richardson, Nigel Davis and Paul Hodges on post-pandemic patterns of chemicals demand that will break the traditional link to GDP; this means new models are needed to measure and analyse market trends.
Swiss Sika starts producing epoxy resins in Qatar
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/04/13 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Sika expanded its production capacity for concrete admixtures and has started manufacturing epoxy resins in Doha, Qatar, the Swiss specialty chemicals producer said on Tuesday.
PODCAST: Ethylene derivatives polyethylene, PVC, MEG take hard hit from rising feedstock prices, winter storm
By Zachary Moore 2021/04/13 In a podcast interview, market experts Zachary Moore, Bill Bowen and Antoinette Smith discussed about ethylene derivatives – polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and mono ethylene glycol (MEG) – that took hard hit from rising feedstock prices and the February winter storm in Texas.
Industry must act fast on plastics recycling as societal pressure mounts
By Joseph Chang 2021/04/13 NEW YORK (ICIS)–The chemical industry must accelerate investment in plastics recycling to achieve scale as activist and government pressures mount, the former CEO of Equate and MEGlobal said on Tuesday.
US IPA domestic supply lengthens following LyondellBasell announcement; imports decline
By Deniz Koray 2021/04/13 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Although isopropanol (IPA) imports for the most recently available month declined, domestic supply improved following news of more favourable sales allocation numbers for buyers.
Global uptake of electric vehicles accelerates, growth to depend on consumer constraints
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/04/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The global uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) accelerated last year as sales rose more than 30%, with the pace of adoption to be determined by how quickly the main constraints that affect consumer demand will be eliminated.
The sales of passenger vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs), meanwhile, declined by around 21% in 2020, Fitch Ratings said in a research note on Friday.
Pakistan’s Engro begins technical studies of proposed PDH-PP project
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/04/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Engro Corp will spend $31.4m to conduct engineering, design and technical studies for its proposed polypropylene (PP) facility based on propane dehydrogenation (PDH), the Pakistan-based producer said on Friday.
A front-end engineering design (FEED) study will also be carried out on the PDH-PP project, it said in a filing on the Pakistan Stock Exchange.
Asia PE, benzene supply tight on firm demand, economic recovery
By Felicia Loo 2021/04/08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s supply of polyethylene (PE) and benzene is tight amid plant shutdowns among suppliers in the face of rising demand as the region’s pace of economic recovery strengthens.
Formosa picks Lloyd’s Register software for plants in Taiwan
By Jonathan Lopez 2021/04/07 LONDON (ICIS)–Taiwan’s petrochemicals producer Formosa Plastics is to use software by Lloyd’s Register at 94 of its plants, the UK-headquartered engineering services provider said on Wednesday.
Plastics recyclers, end-markets must align to make circular economy a reality
By Adam Yanelli 2021/04/08 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Mechanical and chemical recyclers of plastics need to align with end markets to enable the circular economy to become a reality, panellists said during the 16th annual Plastics Recycling Conference and Trade Show, held virtually this year because of the pandemic.
GM to idle more auto plants in N America due to chip shortage
By Al Greenwood 2021/04/08 HOUSTON (ICIS)–General Motors (GM) is idling three automobile plants and extending shutdowns on two more because of a shortage of semiconductors, the US-based auto producer said on Thursday.
EU chems regulator cools down industry’s confidence on substances dossiers
By Jonathan Lopez 2021/04/08 LONDON (ICIS)–The European chemicals trade group Cefic published this week an optimistic analysis on how chemicals companies across the EU are managing to fulfil their obligations under the 27-country bloc’s regulatory regime Reach.
Ukraine needs predictable, stable laws for successful energy transition – think tank
By Aura Sabadus 2021/04/08 LONDON (ICIS)–Ukraine needs to create a stable and reliable legal environment if it wants to attract more investment, integrate with EU markets and switch successfully to a carbon-neutral economy, according to two high-profile members of Ukraine’s leading energy think tank.
PODCAST: Hydrogen, LNG to play key roles in decarbonising trucking
By Laura Mendes 2021/04/08 LONDON (ICIS)–In 2016, 27% of European road transport emissions came from HGVs. Two means of reducing carbon emissions from the trucking and bus industries are using LNG and hydrogen. In this episode of the alternative energy podcast from ICIS, market reporter Laura Mendes discusses both fuels as a means of decarbonising the transport sector with lead hydrogen reporter Jake Stones and senior market reporter Clare Pennington.
US RPM may spend two quarters catching up with inflation
By Al Greenwood 2021/04/07 HOUSTON (ICIS)–RPM International expects to spend the next two quarters implementing price increases to catch up with inflation, executives with the US-based sealants, adhesives and coatings producer said on Wednesday.
Shortage of BDO amid strong demand leaves US players with tough choices
By Antoinette Smith 2021/04/07 HOUSTON (ICIS)–After US Q2 butanediol (BDO) contracts settled at a record-high increase, buyers are left speculating on when critically tight supply will ease.
BLOG: Iran’s share of China HDPE, LDPE imports to surge by 2025 on new deal
By ICIS Editorial 2021/04/07 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson, which discusses the recent Iran-China deal.
Elevated rates for shipping containers show first signs of easing
By: Adam Yanelli 2021/04/02 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Elevated rates for shipping containers have begun to ease, according to market participants from various regions, but remain well above levels seen prior to the pandemic.
Indonesia’s Pertamina fully extinguishes fire at Balongan refinery
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/04/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Indonesian state-owned energy firm Pertamina has fully extinguished on Wednesday afternoon the fire at its 125,000 bbl/day Balongan refinery which went on for more than two days, market sources said on Thursday.
It is now preparing to restart the refinery and should be able to supply propylene to customers in seven to eight days, which would allow Polytama Propindo to resume operations at its polypropylene (PP) plant in Balongan, they said.
South Korea March petrochemical exports jump 48.5% to record high
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/04/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–South Korea’s petrochemical exports in March jumped by 48.5% year on year to a record high of $4.8bn on the back of a rebound in global oil prices, official data showed on Thursday.
TOPIC PAGE: Suez Canal closure
By Will Beacham 2021/03/30 UPDATED 30 March with ICIS analyst views and data on Europe chemical market impact plus latest headlines.
The Suez Canal is now clear after being blocked by one of the world’s largest container ships, the Ever Given, which was stuck sideways after it ran aground on 23 March.
As one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes between the Middle East, Asia and Europe, the closure disrupted the already strained global shipping network.
VIDEO: Bearish factors outweigh bullish factor in near-term methanol market
By Kite Chong 2021/03/30 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Watch senior editor Kite Chong discuss the latest developments in the Chinese methanol market.
- Yuan-denominated market lower than Chinese import market
- Downstream demand to remain robust on healthy margins
- May be curbed by a near-term boost in Chinese supply
India’s TPL plans LAB, caustic soda expansion
By Priya Jestin 2021/03/31 MUMBAI (ICIS)–India’s Tamilnadu Petroproducts Ltd (TPL) plans to increase the capacity of its linear alkyl benzene (LAB) and caustic soda plants and set up a new propylene recovery unit (PRU) at its complex at Manali in southern Tamil Nadu state as part its expansion plans, it said.
The expansion project is estimated to cost around Indian Rupees (Rs) 4.35bn ($59.2m), it said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange on 30 March.
Indian Oil to commission Gujarat refinery expansion project by Sept/Oct 2024
By Priya Jestin 2021/03/31 MUMBAI (ICIS)–State-run Indian Oil Corp (IOC) expects to complete expansion of its Gujarat refinery by end-September or early October 2024, a company source said on Wednesday.
The project, which will expand the refinery capacity in Vadodara by 31% to 18m tonnes/year, was initially slated for completion in 2022.
TOPIC PAGE: Biofuels
By Sophie Udubasceanu 2021/03/30 The biofuels markets are bringing new challenges and opportunities. This page gathers the latest news, analysis and resources to help you make sense of this key sector and support you in the energy transition.
Blast hits Pertamina’s Balongan refinery in Indonesia; C3 plants shut
By Nurluqman Suratman 29-Mar-21 11:58 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–An explosion followed by a fire hit the Balongan refinery of Indonesia’s state-owned oil firm Pertamina early on Monday, injuring at least four people and forcing shutdown of operations at the site. The Balongan complex in west Java was shut to prevent the spread of the fire.
China’s Sinopec 2020 net profit falls 42% as pandemic hits demand
By Fanny Zhang 29-Mar-21 15:02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s biggest refiner Sinopec posted a 42.4% decline in net profit last year as the coronavirus pandemic hit demand and caused sharp falls in petrochemical prices. Oil production fell 1.4% to 280m barrels, while natural gas output rises 2.3% to 1,072bn cubic metres (cbm). Ethylene output falls 3.5% to 12m tonnes.
Giant ship blocking Suez Canal partially re-floated – reports
By Nurluqman Suratman 29-Mar-21 13:20 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The massive container ship wedged in the Suez Canal was partially re-floated on Monday, a week since it ran aground and blocked cargo movement in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, according to global maritime services firms.
US drillers add oil rigs for third week in a row
By Adam Yanelli 2021/03/26 HOUSTON (ICIS)–The US added six new oil drilling rigs this week, the third week in a row of gains as WTI prices ended the week above $60/bbl.
PET, R-PET face further supply disruption ahead of peak demand
By: Matt Tudball 2021/03/26 LONDON (ICIS)–ICIS Senior Editors Caroline Murray and Matt Tudball discuss the current state of the European polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and recycled PET (R-PET) markets amid ongoing tightness and high demand, and look to the summer to gauge where buying interest for both products may head in the coming months.
Mideast petrochemical logistics woes to worsen on Suez Canal blockage
By Felicia Loo 2021/03/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Logistical issues hounding petrochemical-rich Middle East may worsen amid the Suez Canal blockage, further limiting its ability to ship cargoes out of the region.
East Asia, Pacific 2021 GDP growth to accelerate to 7.4% – World Bank
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Overall economic growth in developing East Asia and Pacific countries this year is projected to accelerate to 7.4%, led by the strong recovery in China and Vietnam, the World Bank said on Friday.
The region managed to post a 1.2% growth in 2020, largely thanks to China’s strong recovery in the second half of a pandemic-hit year.
For 2021, China – the world’s second-biggest economy – is projected to grow by 8.1%, coming from last year’s 2.3% growth, the slowest pace in more than four decades.
TOPIC PAGE: Suez Canal closure
By Will Beacham 2021/03/25 The Suez Canal is blocked by one of the world’s largest container ships, the Ever Given, which is stuck sideways after it ran aground on 23 March.
As one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes between the Middle East, Asia and Europe, the closure will further disrupt the already strained global shipping network. There are delays to oil, liquified natural gas (LNG) and chemical shipments as tankers and container ships queue up either side of the canal.
On this topic page we bring you links to the latest related news plus maps, graphs and other resources to help make sense of the impact on energy and chemical markets.
ICIS ANALYST VIEW: LNG market impact of Suez Canal disruption
By Alex Froley 2021/03/25
LONDON (ICIS)–Containership Ever Given remains grounded and blocking the Suez Canal, according to Leth Agencies, a company specialising in canal transits.
Tugboats and dredgers continue to try to refloat the vessel, but to no avail as of Thursday afternoon London time.
Traffic remains suspended with no new or projected changes, said Jacob Guldager, Leth’s business development director.
Suez blockage adds fuel to fire for tight chems markets, logistics
By Tom Brown 2021/03/25 LONDON (ICIS)–The ongoing blockage of the Suez Canal after a container ship ran aground looks set to further tighten already-stretched chemicals value chains, while likely delivery delays continue to spiral with each hour the vessel remains aground.
Efforts to dislodge the 400m long container ship the Ever Given have been largely unsuccessful so far, with marine services firm GAC saying on Wednesday that the vessel had been refloated, citing feedback from the Suez Canal Authority, but remaining wedged lengthwise across the shipping lane.
Suez Canal still blocked; some Asia petrochemical shipments face delays
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The Suez Canal remained closed on Thursday following grounding of a massive container vessel, with some petrochemical shipments between Asia and Europe facing some delays as the blockage is now on its third day.
Indian Oil to boost ethanol production via two new bio-refineries
By Priya Jestin 2021/03/25 MUMBAI (ICIS)–State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) plans to build two second generation (2G) bio-refineries in the southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as part of the government’s aim to increase ethanol production in the country, a company source said on Thursday.
Each of the 2G biorefineries will be set up at a cost of Indian rupiah (Rs) 6bn ($83m) and will be able to produce 500,000 litres/day of ethanol from spoilt and surplus food grain from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) as well as agricultural waste such as wheat and paddy straw, the company source said.
INSIGHT: Progress of vaccinations could buoy chems demand despite protectionism fears
By Tom Brown 2021/03/24 LONDON (ICIS)–The gathering pace of coronavirus vaccination programmes is likely to swell chemicals demand through the year, according to industry research, despite a bumpy start in many countries and the spectre of protectionism looming ever larger.
Crude rises over 3% after container ship blocks Suez Canal
By James Dennis 2021/03/24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Crude prices rose by more than 3% on Wednesday amid news that the grounding of a huge container vessel has effectively blocked the southern end of the Suez Canal – a key global trade route – since Tuesday.
The blockage caused by the vessel Ever Given – one of the largest container ships in the world – has resulted in a build-up of vessels waiting to transit through the waterway.
The rise in crude prices follows significant downside pressure the previous day when crude retreated amid demand worries amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections and stricter lockdown measures in Europe.
World Water Day addresses sustainability in agriculture, fertilizer sectors
By Annalise Porter 2021/03/22 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Global organisations addressed sustainability – including within the agricultural sector and fertilizer industry – during World Water Day on 22 March.
Agriculture consumes around 70% of global freshwater withdrawals annually. Meanwhile, climate change is causing drier soil conditions, larger precipitation variability and higher evaporation rates.
As well as consuming large quantities of water, agriculture and fertilizers have a long-running history of causing water quality issues. These include contamination from fertilizers and pesticides in water runoff, as well as sedimentation issues in ground water supplies.
LNG VIDEO: Two Qatari trains offline as Damietta produces fourth cargo
By Clare Pennington 2021/03/22 LONDON (ICIS)–This short outlook video on the LNG market looks at: Demand from India, Pakistan and Colombia, including tender details; the latest on exports from Egypt’s Damietta and the US; and damper demand in northeast Asia and the latest on nuclear plants in Japan.
US existing home sales fell 6.6% in February, after two months of gains
By Janet Miranda 2021/03/22 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US sales of existing homes were at an annual rate of 6.22m in February, down 6.6% from January after a two month gain, however, sales in total climbed to 9.1% year on year from February 2020, according to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) on Monday.
India’s HPL plans oil-to-chemical project at site of defunct NOCL refinery
By Priya Jestin 2021/03/22 MUMBAI (ICIS)–India’s Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) has received approval from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to take over and revive the defunct oil refinery project of Nagarjuna Oil Corp Ltd (NOCL).
Japan’s AGC to integrate SE Asia chlor-alkali ops via PTTGC tie-up
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/03/19 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japanese producer AGC, formerly known as Asahi Glass Co, is integrating its chlor-alkali operations in southeast Asia, while strengthening its partnership with Thailand’s PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC).
LNG volumes to France set to increase at start of summer
By Andrea Battaglia 2021/03/19 LONDON (ICIS)–French LNG terminals are likely to see an increasingly high number of LNG deliveries amid higher US feedgas and tightening spreads between French PEG and Asian LNG prices.
The PEG April ‘21 contract traced up again in recent sessions after dropping below the ICIS East Asia Index (EAX) in the first days of week 11.
Asia petrochemical shares tumble as oil futures plunge 7% overnight
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/19 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia petrochemical shares were trading lower on Friday after crude oil suffered its worst one-day plunge overnight on concerns that stalling vaccine roll-outs globally will dampen demand.
At 02:30 GMT, Mitsui Chemicals was down 0.94% in Tokyo, LG Chem shed 3.14% in Seoul and PetroChina plunged by 5.30% in Hong Kong.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Index was down by 0.85%, South Korea’s KOSPI Composite Index slipped by 0.88% while the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index fell by 1.29%.
Indonesia central bank keeps benchmark interest rate at 3.5%
Author: Pearl Bantillo 2021/03/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Indonesia’s central bank on Thursday kept its benchmark interest rate at 3.5%, in support of the rupiah (Rp).
“This decision is in line with the need to maintain the stability of the Rupiah exchange rate against increasing uncertainty on global financial markets, amidst the forecast for inflation that remains low,” Bank Indonesia said.
Energy markets align amid carbon volatility
By Christopher Rene 2021/03/18 LONDON (ICIS)–Heightened carbon market volatility has increased the influence of EUAs on the wider energy complex in March with the price correlation between spot Asia LNG and European gas markets also turning stronger. After a disconnection in January and February, the ICIS East Asia Index (EAX) and Dutch TTF have reconnected.
US LNG to favour Europe over Asia amid low shipping costs
By Christopher Rene 2021/03/18 LONDON (ICIS)–European gas and Asian LNG May ’21 contracts have vied for the position of cheapest prices since the start of March amid volatility in the wider energy complex and an uncertain supply outlook.
INSIGHT: Global policy drives approaching biofuels tipping point
By Tom Brown 2021/03/17 LONDON (ICIS)–As governments continue to count the cost of the pandemic, both in terms of the price of keeping economies afloat and the wreck lockdowns and have made of certain industries, many lawmakers have settled on sustainability as the key to the reconstruction.
Toyota partially halts North American auto production on plastics shortage
By Adam Yanelli 18-Mar-21 14:09 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Toyota is the latest automaker to see North American production disrupted because of supply-chain issues related to the recent winter storm and lingering effects from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
PODCAST: China polyolefins supported by global recovery, tight supply
By Joey Zhou 2021/03/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–ICIS senior reporter Nurluqman Suratman speaks with senior analyst Joey Zhou to discuss the factors supporting China’s polyolefins market.
China eases implementation of ethanol gasoline on tight feedstock
By Yu Yunfeng 2021/03/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China has been easing its nationwide implementation of vehicle-use ethanol gasoline since 2020 due to tightening supply of feedstock stale grains.
Ethanol gasoline in the country is currently a combination of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol, also known as E10.
India eyes $87bn worth of new major petrochemical projects – govt official
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The Indian petrochemical industry could see around $87bn worth of new projects as the country moves to bridge the gap between the shortage of domestic supply and increasing consumer demand, a government official said on Tuesday.
The projects currently under consideration include Nayara Energy’s $20bn complex at Vadinar in Gujarat which could house a cracker and downstream units for polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), benzene, cumene and monoethylene glycol (MEG), said Yogendra Tripathi, Secretary, Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
February IPEX up 8%, mainly on rising prices in US and Asia
By Miguel Rodriguez Fernandez 2021/03/17LONDON (ICIS)–The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) extended gains in February, rising 7.9% for the month, tracking price increases seen across most of the major petrochemical and plastics commodities.
The tables show the movement in the global and regional IPEX values as petrochemicals and plastics demand generally improved and markets tightened on the back of the winter storm in the US.
Fitch raises global GDP outlook on US stimulus
By Al Greenwood 17-Mar-21 16:50 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Fitch Ratings raised its forecast for global GDP growth for 2021 to 6.1% from 5.3%, the credit-rating agency said on Wednesday.
Japan’s Feb chemical exports rise by 5.2%; overall shipments down 4.5%
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan’s chemical exports rose by 5.2% year on year to yen (Y) 762.7bn in February but overall shipments abroad slipped, official data showed on Wednesday.
The country’s exports of organic chemicals fell by 5.4% year on year to Y135.9bn in February while shipments of plastic materials were up by 11.6% at Y217bn, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said in a statement.
Singapore petrochemical exports rise 19% in Feb; NODX up 4.2%
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore’s petrochemical shipments abroad rose by 19.3% year on year to Singapore dollar (S$) 1.2bn in in February, supporting the overall growth in non-oil domestic exports (NODX), official data showed on Wednesday.
The country’s NODX rose by 4.2% year on year to S$14.1bn in February following the 12.7% expansion a month earlier, Enterprise Singapore said in a statement.
India eyes complete national ban on single-use plastics by H2 ‘22
By Priya Jestin 2021/03/15 MUMBAI (ICIS)–India is working on a national policy aimed at completely phasing out single-use plastics by the second half of 2022, taking into account varied paces of compliance across states over the past five years.
In a draft notification issued on 13 March 2021, the country’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is looking at a three-phased ban on the manufacture, use, sale, import and handing of single-use plastic items.
VIDEO: China SM demand weighed by high prices following outages
By Tina Zhang 2021/03/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Watch industry analyst Tina Zhang discuss China’s domestic styrene market which have been weighed by the surge in international prices following several production outages in Europe and the US.
PODCAST: hydrogen could hold the key to low carbon chemicals
By Will Beacham 2021/03/16 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Hydrogen could play a key role in lowering the chemical industry’s carbon footprint thanks to use of renewable energy and carbon storage.
SK Global Chemical, Zhejiang Satellite to build C2 acrylic acid plant in China
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–South Korean SK Global Chemical (SKGC) has signed a deal with Chinese producer Zhejiang Satellite to build a 40,000 tonne/year ethylene (C2) acrylic acid (EAA) plant at Lianyungang in eastern China.
Under a memorandum of understanding agreement (MoU) signed on 11 March, the two firms will establish a new joint venture company for the won (W) 200bn ($176m) project for the production and sales of EAA, the South Korean producer said on 14 March.
Brazil’s Braskem to open polymers logistics hub in Singapore
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Braskem is partnering with logistics firm A.P. Moller – Maersk and port operator PSA Corp to open a new logistics hub in Singapore as it seeks to better manage its polymers supply for the region, the Brazilian firm said on Monday.
The new partnership comes off the back of the company’s existing partnership with PSA, which allows Braskem to use PSA Singapore as a regional distribution focal point, the company said in a statement.
Japan’s Asahi Kasei to boost Li-ion battery separator capacity at Miyazaki
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asahi Kasei is increasing the Li-ion battery (LIB) separator production capacity at its plant in Mizayaki amid increasing demand for electric vehicles, the Japanese producer said on Monday.
The yen (Y) 30bn expansion project is scheduled to start up in the first half of fiscal year 2023, the company said in a statement.
PODCAST: Asia petchems supported by growing global economic recovery, tight supply
By Felicia Loo 2021/03/15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–ICIS Senior Reporter Nurluqman Suratman speaks with Felicia Loo on the current macroeconomic and tight supply conditions supporting the overall Asian petrochemical market.
INSIGHT: OPEC keeps eyes on the price amid Texas storm impact, Saudi attack
By Tom Brown 2021/03/12 LONDON (ICIS)–Little wavering from OPEC and its partner nations on supply curbs is expected in the near future after the cartel and its partners agreed last week to largely hold curbs in place for another month.
UK-EU automotive, chemicals trade hit hard in January as Brexit deal kicks in
By: Jonathan Lopez 2021/03/12 LONDON (ICIS)–Prior stockpiling and new Brexit trade regulations caused a fall of 40.7% in UK exports to the EU in January, month on month, as the country ended its membership of the 27-nation bloc’s single market, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday.
The petrochemicals-intensive automotive sector was hit hard, said the ONS, along with other chemicals-based sectors.
UK GDP during January fell 2.9%, less than analysts had expected, after the UK implemented on 5 January lockdown measures to stop the spread of a new coronavirus variant, shutting most retail venues and keeping most residents confined to their homes.
S Arabia’s Sipchem 2020 net profit falls on lower prices, PP output
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/12 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Sipchem’s net profit fell by 41.3% year on year to Saudi riyal (SR) 175.9m last year, partly weighed by lower selling prices for most of its products, the Saudi Arabia-based producer said in a stock exchange filing.
Logistics crisis to persist into Q3 as availability trumps pricing – Brenntag CEO
By Will Beacham 2021/03/11 BARCELONA (ICIS)–The global logistics crisis is expected to last at least until the third quarter of 2021, and is making availability of product more important than price, according to the CEO of Brenntag, the world’s largest distributor.
China February petrochemical market extends surge in February on continuous tight supply, US outages
By Yvonne Shi 2021/03/11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s petrochemical markets surged again in February on continuous tight supply and recovering post-holiday demand, further fuelled by US outages as a result of a cold wave.
Updated: New companies to start lifting LNG from Equatorial Guinea
By Daniel Stemler 2021/03/11 Updated: This story has been updated to include details of Chevron lifting its first cargo: MADRID (ICIS)–The start of feedgas flows from Equatorial Guinea’s offshore Alen gas project into the country’s LNG plant will likely see new companies start to lift cargoes from the West African country.
Saudi Arabia’s Advanced receives approval for new complex
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/10 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Advanced Petrochemical Co has received approval for a new petrochemical complex at Jubail Industrial City in Saudi Arabia, the producer said on Wednesday.
The new complex is expected to produce 1.15m tonnes/year of ethylene, 850,000 tonnes/year of propylene and 400,000 tonnes/year of aromatics and fuels, and their derivatives, the company said in a filing to the Saudi bourse, Tadawul. The new complex is expected to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2025.
VIDEO: Asia liquid caustic soda sees open arbitrage to the West
By Jonathan Chou 2021/03/10 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Watch ICIS markets reporter Jonathan Chou discuss the impact of the recent production outages in the US on the liquid caustic soda market in Asia.
PODCAST: Chemical markets distorted by logistics and panic buying, but underlying optimism seen for 2021
By Will Beacham 2021/03/09 BARCELONA (ICIS)–The international chemical markets have been distorted by logistics bottlenecks and panic buying – but there is optimism for 2021 and beyond.
VIDEO: Asia PVC supply remains tight on US/EU production disruptions
By Zhi Xuan Ho 2021/03/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producers seek to fill in the shortfall in global supply amid polar storm-related production disruptions in the US.
Jonathan Chou, editor in charge of Asia-Pacific markets, and Zhi Xuan Ho, editor in charge of the Middle East and South Asia markets, discuss the global PVC supply-demand conditions.
Japan revises down Q4 annualised GDP growth to 11.7%
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/03/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan has revised down its annualised fourth-quarter GDP growth to 11.7% from 12.7% previously, official data showed on Tuesday.
VIDEO: Asia PVC supply remains tight on US/EU production disruptions
By Zhi Xuan Ho 2021/03/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producers seek to fill in the shortfall in global supply amid polar storm-related production disruptions in the US.
China’s emissions ambition to accelerate hydrogen developments
By Yu Yunfeng 2021/03/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s ambition to achieve peak emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 will accelerate the development of hydrogen as a fuel for power generation and vehicles.
Attacks on Saudi Arabia facilities send Brent crude surging above $70/bbl
By Pearl Bantillo 08-Mar-21 10:57 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities on Sunday sent crude surging by more than 2% on Monday, with Brent crude now trading at above $71/bbl.
China’s Jan-Feb crude imports rise 4.1% year on year
By Fanny Zhang 08-Mar-21 14:08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s crude imports reached 89.57m tonnes in January-February 2021, up by 4.1% year on year, official customs data showed over the weekend.
China sets 2021 economic growth target at over 6%
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/05 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday announced that the country has set a GDP growth target of more than 6% for 2021.
ExxonMobil to cut 300 jobs in Singapore by end-2021 amid pandemic
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/03 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–ExxonMobil is cutting about 300 jobs in Singapore – or about 7% of its workforce in the southeast Asian country – by the end of the year, citing “unprecedented market conditions” brought about by the pandemic.
Singapore manufacturing to continue recovery on improving external markets
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/03 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore’s manufacturing sector is poised to see further recovery this year as overall exports continue to grow amid an improvement in demand from its key external markets.
Thailand petrochemical firms eye better ’21 amid oil-led price spikes
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Thailand’s petrochemical firms are expected to generate better earnings in 2021 on the back of rising product prices, but oversupply in China and slow growth in some end-user markets in Asia could temper profitability.
India reverts to growth mode in fiscal Q3, full-year GDP to shrink 8%
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/03/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–India’s economy returned to growth mode in October-December 2020, after two quarters of pandemic-induced deep recession, raising hopes of a strong recovery in the coming fiscal year.
Asia petchem markets bullishness set to continue amid tightening supply, high oil prices
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Across the board bullishness seen in Asia’s petrochemical markets is likely to continue in the near term on tight supply in key China market ahead of its peak turnaround season, along with robust downstream demand and crude oil prices.
au Jibun Bank’s Japan manufacturing PMI rises to 51.4 in Feb
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–au Jibun Bank’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for Japan rose to 51.4 in February from 49.8 in January, indicating the strongest improvement in the health of the sector since December 2018, the Japanese bank said on Monday.
VIDEO: China’s BG market propelled by strong upstream, limited supply
By Bonnie Yin 2021/02/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)– Watch markets editor Bonnie Yin discuss the recent developments in the China’s glycol ether (BG) market which has surged after the Lunar New Year holiday, driven by cost pressure from upstream feedstock markets and limited offers.
VIDEO: Asia ABS propped by US Gulf Storms, strong post-Lunar New Year sentiment
By Julia Tan 2021/02/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Markets reporter Julia Tan discusses the impact of recent polar storm-related production outages in the US on the Asian acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) spot market and related upstream markets. The production losses in the US has indirectly supported market sentiment for Asian spot markets amid stronger post-Lunar New Year purchasing attitudes.
PODCAST: China petrochemicals extend gains on tight supply, US disruptions
By Yvonne Shi 2021/02/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s petrochemicals market have strengthened after the Lunar New Year holiday. In this episode of the ICIS Asia podcast, Jady Ma speaks with Yvonne Shi on recent developments and outlook for the market.
PODCAST: MEG global markets deal with fallout from US Gulf production disruption after ice storm
By Melissa Hurley 2021/02/25 LONDON (ICIS)–Global monoethylene glycol (MEG) markets deal with fallout from US storms in February, causing all glycol suppliers to declare force majeure.
Buyers question indexation amid Asian spot LNG volatility
By Hendrian Sukardi 2021/02/25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–A range of northeast Asian LNG buyers are reconsidering price benchmark options after a huge jump in volatility on Asian spot LNG prices in recent weeks.
Thailand’s IVL swings to Q4 net profit; eyes better demand in 2021
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Thailand-listed Indorama Ventures Ltd (Ltd) expects demand recovery for its products to continue this year after it swung to a net profit of Thai baht (Bt) 1.61bn ($54m) in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Fourth-quarter earnings were driven by stronger production volumes and contributions from its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) business.
Mideast chemicals supply tight amid US outages, strong China demand
By Felicia Loo 2021/02/25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Supply tightness prevails in the Middle East chemicals markets and it remains a challenge to scour the region for cargoes amid winter storm-related outages in the US and strong demand coming from China.
The ramifications are felt keenly in the polymer markets.
For both polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), selling sentiment is strong on expectations that demand from the US and Latin American buyers will surge, which would affect the Middle East’s allocations to other regions.
BLOG: China 2021 PX imports could fall by 64%, with styrene imports down 59% By ICIS Editorial 2021/02/24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson. There is a lot of focus on US production losses resulting from the severe winter weather and how the losses have tightened markets in the US, Latin America and Europe. Even Asia has also been affected to a lesser extent, as cargoes from the Middle East and Asia that would have stayed within these regions have been diverted.
US ethanol, biomass-based diesel RIN prices near all-time highs – EIA
By Adam Yanelli 2020/02/24 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Prices for US renewable identification number (RIN) credits have been rising steadily and are near all-time highs, largely because of reduced fuel production due to softer demand amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
Asia petrochemicals at multi-year highs on strong crude, bullish China markets
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Key petrochemical markets in Asia have hit multi-year highs, driven up by strong crude gains following winter storm-related US output disruptions, and robust post-holiday activity in China.
Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals restarts Chiba cracker after quake-related shutdown
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Mitsui Chemicals restarted the cracker at its Ichihara Works site in Chiba prefecture on 23 February and is in the process of restarting other downstream units, the Japanese producer said on Wednesday.
PODCAST: US Gulf Coast storm outages risk global chemical supply crunch
By: Will Beacham 2021/02/22 BARCELONA (ICIS)—The US Gulf Coast storm impact could be worse than Hurricane Harvey, and cause a global supply crunch for major product groups.
- Polar storm impact could be worse than Hurricane Harvey
- 100% of US capacity knocked out for major commodities
- Polar storm comes on top of pandemic-related shipping container, semi-conductor disruption
- Supply was already tight in some value chains
au Jibun Bank flash manufacturing PMI rises to 50.6 in Feb
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/19 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–au Jibun Bank’s flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for Japan rose to 50.6 in February from the final reading of 49.8 in January on improved export orders, the Japanese bank said on Friday.
A PMI reading above 50 indicates an expansion in the manufacturing economy.
Forecasting Chinese LNG demand: Why a monthly update is superior to a static yearly estimate, in an increasingly volatile market
By Alex Siow 2021/02/19 ICIS forecasts China to import between 4.7 million to 5.3 million tonnes of LNG per month during February to April 2021. This is on average a 12% year-on-year (yoy) increase compared to the same months last year. On an annual basis, we are forecasting China to import 76m tonnes this year, an 11% yoy increase.
But this is only a valid prediction for now, within these few weeks. By early next month, our forecast number could have been updated and changed, depending on events that might have happened between now and early next month. Or it could be maintained, also depending on events.
US Gulf Coast storm outages rise, send ripples round global markets
By Will Beacham 2021/02/18 BARCELONA (ICIS)—The US polar storm has now shut down 84% of US polypropylene (PP) capacity, 65% of ethylene and devastated other important products, sending ripples around global chemical markets prices soaring.
More chemical plants and refineries across the Gulf Coast region have been hit by prolonged power and feedstock outages caused by freezing weather, snow and ice which have also halted logistics networks. More bad weather, forecast for later in the week, may prolong the disruption.
Norway’s Yara, partners to electrify, decarbonize Porsgrunn ammonia plant
By: Pearl Bantillo 2021/02/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Fertilizer firm Yara International has signed a deal with two industrial firms to electrify and decarbonize its ammonia facility in Porsgrunn, Norway.
The Porsgrunn plant produces 500,000 tonnes/year of ammonia, according to ICIS data.
The company has signed a letter of intent with fellow Norwegians Statkraft and Aker Horizons on the project, also with the aim of enabling the hydrogen economy and accelerating the green energy transition, Yara said in a statement on Thursday.
PODCAST: Gulf petrochemicals special focus with GPCA secretary general Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun
By Will Beacham 2021/02/16 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Arabian Gulf petrochemical companies are committed to pursuing a low carbon future while battling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and increasing self-sufficiency in China, according to the Gulf Petrochemical Association (GPCA).
- Transition to a low carbon future presents opportunities for Gulf Cooperation (GCC) chemicals
- Region is committed to boost recycling plus new, greener technologies
- GCC chemicals managed to grow volumes in 2020, despite the pandemic
China petrochemicals lead Asia gains on strong crude, US supply disruptions
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/02/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s petrochemical trades were brisk upon re-opening on Thursday after a week-long hiatus, leading gains in key Asian markets amid surging crude prices and US supply disruptions.
Prices in the Chinese commodities futures markets surged on the first trading day after the Lunar New Year holiday, with styrene monomer (SM) logging an 11% spike as of midday, largely on concerns over tight post-holiday supply.
Oil prices extend strong gains on US Gulf Coast cold snap
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Oil prices rose by more than $1/bbl on Thursday, with Brent on its fifth day of gains, as severe cold conditions in Texas and surrounding regions in the US led to refinery shutdowns and production cuts.
At 03:30 GMT, Brent crude was trading at $65.18/bbl, off the intra-day high of $65.52/bbl, while WTI crude was at $61.80/bbl.
Japan’s Showa Denko swings to 2020 loss as petrochemical profit slumps
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/02/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan’s Showa Denko has incurred a full-year 2020 net loss of yen (Y) 76.3bn ($720m), reversing the profit in 2019, while earnings from its petrochemical segment slumped amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Japan January chemical exports rise 23.6%; overall shipments up 6.4%
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan’s total chemical exports in January rose by 23.6% year on year to yen (Y) 788.7bn ($7.4bn), while overall shipments abroad were up by 6.4%, official data showed on Wednesday.
Exports of organic chemicals fell by 7.2% year on year to Y139.4bn in January while shipments of plastic materials abroad increased by 30.4% to Y224.8bn, Ministry of Finance data showed.
Singapore’s Jan petrochemical exports rise by 10.1%; NODX up 12.8%
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore’s petrochemical exports rose by 10.1% year on year to Singapore dollar (S$) 1.14bn in January, supporting the growth in overall non-oil domestic exports (NODX), official data showed on Wednesday.
The country’s NODX rose by 12.8% year on year to S$15.1bn in January, accelerating from the 6.8% expansion in December 2020, Enterprise Singapore data showed.
Japan January chemical exports rise 23.6%; overall shipments up 6.4%
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan’s total chemical exports in January rose by 23.6% year on year to yen (Y) 788.7bn ($7.4bn), while overall shipments abroad were up by 6.4%, official data showed on Wednesday.
Thailand’s PTTGC Q4 net profit surges on strong margins as prices spike
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–PTT Global Chemical’s (PTTGC) fourth-quarter net profit surged to Thai baht (Bt) 6.41bn from the same period last year on the back of higher product prices, with sales up 3% year on year.
Its full-year 2020 results, however, reflected a general weakness in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with a 20% decline in sales nearly wiping out its profit.
Singapore to see strong GDP rebound after 2020 contraction
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore’s economy is expected to see a strong rebound this year after contracting by 5.4% in 2020, supported by a robust manufacturing sector as its outward-oriented sectors continue to benefit from rising external demand.
VIDEO: Europe R-PET colourless flake, post-consumer bottles prices jump in February
By Matt Tudball 2021/02/12 LONDON (ICIS)–Senior Editor for Recycling, Matt Tudball, looks at the outcome of the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) monthly price discussions for February.
– Large jumps in colourless flake and post-consumer bottle (PCB) prices
– Virgin PET prices still a key driver for R-PET demand
– Flake buyers expecting bullish March, April
Shell commits to growing chemicals as part of low-carbon strategy
By: Will Beacham 2021/02/11 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Shell on Thursday committed to growing its chemicals business, setting targets for the division as it transitions the company towards net carbon neutrality.
In a strategy update, the company’s CEO Ben van Beurden laid out targets to increase cash generation from chemicals by $1-2bn/year and reduce exposure to commodity chemicals by around 70% by 2030. He also reiterated a target to process 1m tonnes/year of plastic waste for recycling by 2025.
Van Beurden said the company’s aim – announced in the third quarter of 2020 – of reducing its portfolio of 14 oil refining sites globally to six energy and chemical parks by 2030 is well underway through the divestment and closure of some assets.
Signs of healthy recovery unable to prop up crude demand as transport drags – OPEC
By: Jonathan Lopez 2021/02/11 LONDON (ICIS)–There are early “signs of a healthy recovery” in 2021 but the recovery in crude demand will lag as transportation is not set to fully recover any time soon, the producing cartel OPEC said on Thursday.
Petrochemicals activity, however, will remain healthy and continue to support demand from crude oil, which has found in the industrial sectors an ally to keep a determining role in the global energy mix as transport electrifies in coming decades.
Before transport electrifies, however, the gasoline and derivatives used to fuel mobility will still remain somewhat redundant in 2021 as demand from those sectors is not set to recover pre-pandemic levels this year.
India’s IGPL plans new 80,000 tonne/year PA line
By Priya Jestin 2021/02/11 MUMBAI (ICIS)–India’s IG Petrochemicals Ltd (IGPL) plans to set up a greenfield 80,000 tonnes/year phthalic anhydride (PA) plant in western Gujarat state, it said in a statement.
The company’s board of directors approved the setting up of the Indian rupees (Rs) 6bn ($82m) chemical complex at Gujarat which will contain the PA line and other derivative plants, it said in the filing on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 9 February.
The new plant will commence operations in three years, the company said, adding that it planned to raise funds for the new project through internal accruals and loans.
The new PA capacity will help IG Petrochemicals meet increasing demand in downstream products like paints, plasticizers¸ polyvinyl chloride (PVC), unsaturated polyester resins etc, IGPL said in its statement.
PODCAST: MEG global supply tightness prevails
By Melissa Hurley 2021/02/08 LONDON (ICIS)–Global monoethylene glycol (MEG) supply tightness remains a key issue across Europe, US and Asia.
Asia MEG prices rise to 16-month peak
Heavy turnaround schedule in the Middle East
East China MEG inventories rise 4.4% to 681,000 tonnes
Quicker Lunar New Year demand recovery due to less travel
European short-term supply eases; spot-stable-to-soft
US diethylene glycol (DEG) spot supply remains sold out
MEG outages could extend tight US MEG supply into spring
S Korea’s LG Chem starts push for renewable energy across worksites
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/02/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–South Korean producer LG Chem will fully run its Yeosu nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) plant, along with its Osan Tech Centre, on renewable energy this year.
The company is procuring an annual 120 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of renewable energy through the Korean RE100 (Renewable Energy 100) system called “Green Premium” Program.
PODCAST: Asia phenol, acetone supported by tight supply, strong derivatives
By Jasmine Khoo 2021/02/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s phenol and acetone prices have been supported by snug supply, arising from plant turnarounds and reduced production across Asia, Europe and the US.
In this episode of the ICIS Asia podcast, Senior Editor Jasmine Khoo speaks with Angeline Soh, editor in charge of the Asia-Pacific acetone and phenol analysis on the recent development.
US January Port Houston chem tanker arrivals rise by 5.6% year on year
By Adam Yanelli 2021/02/09 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Chemical tanker arrivals at Port Houston started the year off on a positive note, rising by 5.6% compared with the same month a year ago, while overall arrivals are down by 12% as global economies continue to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
IMF raises LatAm GDP forecast to 4.1% for 2021
By Janet Miranda 2021/02/08 HOUSTON (ICIS)–The Latin American and Caribbean 2021 growth forecast has been revised to 4.1% from 3.6%, based on stronger than expected performance in 2020, due to expanding vaccination efforts and a better growth outlook for the US, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Monday.
PODCAST: drive to lower carbon means no new steam crackers after 2030
By Will Beacham 2021/02/08 BARCELONA (ICIS)—The climate change agenda means that no new steam crackers will be built beyond 2030 as the chemical industry harnesses new technologies and investors steer clear of high carbon projects.
- Coronavirus makes oil refinery rationalisation more urgent
- No new steam crackers will be built from 2030
- Decarbonisation, sustainability will drive future investment decisions
- Chemical companies will harness new technologies like green hydrogen, electric furnaces
Borealis to focus on chemicals, polyolefins as OMV consolidates position
By: Tom Brown 2021/02/08 LONDON (ICIS)–Borealis is tightening its focus on base chemicals and polymers as it prepares to divest the bulk of its fertilizers business after shareholder OMV doubled down on its position in the Austria-headquartered petrochemicals producer.
DIVESTMENT AND REALIGNMENT
After several years of peaks and troughs for its fertilizers operations, Borealis announced last week that it is preparing to put the business in play.
With no set timeline to divest, the sale of the nitrogen and melamine operations will represent a total break from the fertilizer sector for the company, with the exception of a Benelux player with two production plants it continues to hold a stake in.
Thailand’s PTTGC pursues feedstock flexibility with new project
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/02/08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Thailand’s petrochemical major PTT Global Chemical is looking at increasing the share of propane in its feedstock mix under a new project coming on stream two years from now.
Canada’s January light vehicle sales fall 17.4% amid pandemic lockdowns
By Stefan Baumgarten 2021/02/05 TORONTO (ICIS)–Canadian sales of new light vehicles are estimated to have fallen by 17.4% year on year in January, to 90,890 units, according to the latest data by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC) on Friday.
US industrial energy consumption to return to ’19 levels faster than other sectors – EIA
By Adam Yanelli 2021/02/03 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US consumption of petroleum and other liquids from the industrial sector, primarily for use as feedstocks in the production of plastics, could return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023 in a best-case scenario, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
US will return to ’19 energy consumption levels by ’29 – EIA
By Al Greenwood 2021/02/03 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US energy consumption should return to 2019 levels by 2029, the nation’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
BLOG: The new oil shocks: semiconductor supply shortages threaten the global economy
By ICIS Editorial 2021/02/03 LONDON (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections. The oil supply shocks of the 1970s are at risk of being replaced by the semiconductor supply shocks of the 2020s. There are just three global suppliers of high-value semiconductors that might soon become two, down from 25 in 2000. Eighty percent of all types of semiconductor production is located in northeast Asia.
Europe PVC outlook balanced to tight in early 2021 as prices trend upward
By: Chris Barker 2021/02/02 LONDON (ICIS)–The outlook for European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) remains balanced to tight in early 2021, with contract prices rising for January as global availability is still limited and prices high.
For January, increases were proposed in a wide range of €35-100/tonne at the beginning of the month. Final settlements were also in a relatively wide range, with some negotiations concluded with increases of €40-50/tonne in northwest Europe and the Mediterranean, according to buyers and producers.
Downstream demand is also respectable with the European construction market expected to rebound and return to growth in 2021 after suffering damage from the pandemic in 2020.
PODCAST: chemical sector must step up circular investments from tens to hundreds of millions
By Will Beacham 01-Feb-21 15:32 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Chemical companies need to take the circular economy more seriously and invest hundreds rather than tens of millions in recycling.
- Investors now seek companies active in circular economy
- Risk that brand owners may seize initiative from chemical companies
- Chemical companies need to step up circular investments
- 2021 could be the year of circular economy ahead of COP26 meeting in November
- China chemicals threatened by persistent shortage of containers, soaring rates
- Electricity shortage, resurgent pandemic, microchip shortage also pose risks
China will move towards self-sufficiency in paraxylene (PX), styrene (SM) and polypropylene (PP)
Click on the headline to hear the podcast.
VIDEO: Asia/Mideast Groups I, II base oils find footing amid tight global supply
By Matthew Chong 2021/02/02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Senior Editors Matthew Chong and Izham Ahmad discuss recent developments in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East base oils markets.
Asian chemical demand sentiment mixed post-Lunar New Year
By Felicia Loo 2021/02/02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Unlike previous years, post-Lunar New Year chemical markets in 2021 will be uniquely different in China – the world’s number-two economy – as well as in other parts of Asia where the holiday is celebrated.
At issue, the extent of plastics demand recovery in Asia remains to be seen on prospects of businesses resuming earlier than past years, when factories shut for two to four weeks during the holiday in China.
US WR Grace reaches standstill agreement with 40 North
By Janet Miranda 2021/02/01 HOUSTON (ICIS)–WR Grace entered into a letter agreement with 40 North on Monday, after it announced its decision to discuss a sale to 40 North’s upped bid of $65 per share, the US-catalyst producer said.
Caixin’s China Jan manufacturing PMI dips to 51.5 in January amid lower output
By Nuuqman Suratman 2021/02/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Caixin’s China general manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 51.5 in January from 53.0 in December as business conditions improved at the slowest rate for seven months, the Chinese media firm said on Monday.
au Jibun Bank manufacturing PMI slips to 49.8 in Jan
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–au Jibun Bank’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for Japan fell to 49.8 in January from 50.0 in December 2020 on a drop in output as rising coronavirus cases had a renewed impact on the economy, the Japanese bank said on Monday.
PODCAST: Asia Special Report – Base oils
By Jasmine Khoo 2021/02/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–2020 could be summed up as a topsy-turvy year for the base oils industry. The slump in Asian base oils prices in Q2 last year due to lockdowns followed by the rapid recovery in prices to even higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019 has astounded market players.
VIDEO: Asia butyl acetate prices rise on tight supply
By Melanie Wee 2021/02/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Watch ICIS senior editor Melanie Wee discuss the latest developments in the Asia butyl acetate (butac) market and its key drivers.
LyondellBasell plans to run Houston refinery at 80% in Q1
By Al Greenwood 2021/01/29 HOUSTON (ICIS)–LyondellBasell expects to run its refinery in Houston at 80% of its throughput capacity during the first quarter, the same rate as the fourth quarter, the CEO said on Friday.