THE LATEST DATA on linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) China CFR (cost & freight) pricing spreads over CFR Japan naphtha costs underlines the evidence from the other grades of polyolefins, that China is a long way from a full economic recovery.
Asian Chemical Connections
CHIINA’S LDPE spreads over naphtha feedstock costs have held up very well this. But this doesn’t mean to say that demand is good. Chinese demand could fall by as much as 8% in 2022.
My previous best-case outcome for China’s HDPE demand growth in 2022 was 6%. My worst-case scenario was a 3% decline. Now, though, I worry that the best-case outcome for 2022 HDPE demand could be flat or zero growth. My worst-case outcome is a 4% decline.
Comparative PE and PP pricing data between Vietnam and southeast asia – and the “spreads” numbers between China PE and PP prices and naphtha costs – suggest the China economy has yet to recover.
RECOVERY? WHAT RECOVERY? Some market players are talking about a rebound in the Chinese economy, and, therefore, polyolefins demand, but the critically important spreads data continue to tell a different story. Nothing has changed from last week.
January-April 2022 data point towards China’s polyethylene demand for the full year declining by 2% over 2021.
In January-March 2022, the ICIS China production estimates plus the net import data from the China Customs department suggested that China’s full-year polypropylene (PP) demand growth would have been be 4%. But the January-April data for this year suggest almost zero growth over last year.
Scenario 1, the ICIS Base Case, for China’s ethylene equivalent demand, sees growth at 9% in 2022 over last year. Scenario 2 involves 4.5% and Scenario 3, minus 3%.
Instead of demand for the nine polymers growing by 7m tonnes in 2022 under our base cases, my downsides see consumption falling by 6m tonnes.
The ICIS Supply & Demand Base Case growth for Eurozone and UK PE demand in 2022 over last year is 1%. Downside 1 assumes consumption will contract by 4% and Downside 2 by 7%.