Every tonne of polymer you decide not to produce because there isn’t a viable market will save vital revenues – especially as feedstock costs will remain very volatile. Every tonne of polymer you do produce because the market works will earn you crucial money at a time of declining overall sales.
Asian Chemical Connections
UNTIL WE SEE a recovery in China PP-naphtha spreads during around a 12-month period to close to long-term annual averages, there will have been no complete rebound in the market. The spread so far this year at just $264/tonne is 41% lower than the previous lowest year of $447/tonne in 2012.
THESE ARE STILL extraordinary times in global polyolefins markets. Although the great equalisation has begun as pricing in most of the rest of the world falls towards Chinese levels, price premiums over China remain historically very high. There are thus still strong opportunities for exporters to make good netbacks in markets other than China.
Northwest Europe PP price premiums over China averaged $161/tonne between November 2002 and December 2020. Between January 2021 and 16 September 2022, price premiums averaged $749/tonne. What would be the consequences for European PP pricing and profitability if price premiums returned much closer to their long-term averages?
HDPE and PP pricing in key market outside China continues to fall towards levels in China, the blog’s new weekly index shows
The chart shows European
dependence on Russian gas compared with country-by-country percentages of the region’s total PE capacity, Germany is the standout risk country as it has a nearly 50% reliance on Russia for its gas supplies with a total of more than 70% of Europe’s PE capacities across the three grades. In the case of the Netherlands, it is the location for just under 40% of capacities with its dependence on Russian gas at around 20%.
THERE IS A FEELING out there that the chemicals and polymers industry is undergoing a typical downcycle that will last a few years, followed by yet another spectacular fly-up in margins. But I believe a great deal more is happening beyond the usual cycles of over-building followed by under-building.
Because companies in all manufacturing and service sectors haven’t been adequately charged for the natural resources they use, and the damage they cause to the environment, we face the risks of catastrophic climate change and more plastic in the oceans than fish.
THE CHEMICALS AND polymers world is behaving in ways that our industry has probably never seen before. A good example are the relationships between European and Chinese PE pricing
I WORRY that we face a crisis deeper and more complex than any of us have seen before because of the confluence of geopolitics, demographics, the changing nature of the Chinese economy as Common Prosperity reforms accelerate, China’s rising chemicals and polymers self-sufficiency, the high levels of global inflation with all its causes, and, last but certainly not least, climate change.