Neither Supermajors nor Deglobalisation are inevitable. Outcomes will instead be set by many individual choices that are coordinated in the rights ways. In other words, it is within the gift of Europe to wake up from Jim Ratcliffe’s “sleepwalk”.
Asian Chemical Connections
China CFR PE price spreads hit new record low in 2024
A MUCH MORE complex world requires better scenario-planning.
China block copolymer and raffia-grade price spreads between 2022 and 26 January this year were 144% lower than their long-term average with injection grade spreads 145% lower.
So far in 2024, despite supply tighter than it was in December last year, the average per tonne CFR China PE price spread over CFR Japan naphtha costs has fallen to its lowest annual level since we began our price assessments way back in 1993. 2022 and 2023 were the previous record lows.
DEMOGRAPHICS SHAPE petrochemicals demand. As we consider the future, evaluate the different challenges of the G20’s Rich but Old, Poor & Old and Poor & Young G2O groups of countries.
If we are to see a repeat of 87% in 2024-2030 (the green line in the chart) and assuming my forecast of 2% demand growth is correct, the increase in global capacity would need to average just 154,000 tonnes/year during each year between 2024 and 2030. This is versus our base case of 4.5m tonnes/year of annual increases.
The blue line in the above chart involves annual average capacity growing at just 800,000 tonnes/year in each of the years between 2024 and 2030. This is versus our base case assumption of 7m tonnes/year of capacity growth during each of the years.
I think that China’s polyethylene (PE) demand growth averaged 2% across the three grades in 2023. I see this year’s growth at between 1-3%, and at the same levels up until 2030.
If South Korea kept all its PP plants open, 2024-2030 operating rates would average just 58% compared with 94% in 1990-2023. Profitability would obviously be very poor.
Or South Korea may permanently close an annual average of 430,00 tonnes/year of capacity – a total of 3m tonnes/year or 48% of capacity as of 2023. 2024-2030 operating rates would average a healthy 85%.