By John Richardson
A GREAT deal more polyolefins supply is expected to hit the Asian markets over the next few months resulting in what two chemicals analysts tell the blog will be depressed margins up until March next year.
After that the analysts – one in Singapore and the other in South Korea – predict that we will begin to climb towards the sunny uplands of the supercycle, justifying the already very-high share prices of petrochemical companies, especially those in South Korea.
By the way, the blog is in Seoul at the moment and we will be talking a great deal more about the South Korean industry over the next week or so.
Returning to the supply issue, we were told a couple of weeks ago that the giant 800,000 tonne/year Borouge polypropylene (PP) plant at Ruwais in Abu Dhabi had achieved commercial production. This was confirmed to ICIS news by a source close to the project late last week.
Source of picture: marketoracle.co.uk
Qatar Chemicals (Q-Chem) was reported to be in the process of starting up its 350,000 tonne/year high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plant at Mesaieed in Qatar two weeks ago - with a big new linear low-density (LLDPE) facility in Asia also said to have recently achieved commercial runs.
Bangkok Polyethylene has started test runs of its delayed 250,000 tonne/year HDPE facility at Mab Ta Phut in Thailand, again according to ICIS news
Several PE plants have come back from turnaround or are about to do so, including Titan Chemicals in Malaysia and SK Energy in South Korea.
But we have been here before, of course, many times over the last 18 months.
Who can really guarantee, given the plethora of technical problems that have plagued recent start-ups, that further problems will not be encountered?
As for demand, well, that depends on reliable economic forecasts and as a chief executive officer interviewed by the blog caustically remarked yesterday “the more economists are wrong the more their views are in demand – so it perhaps helps them that they keep getting it wrong.”