China’s share of global demand growth in the seven big resins jumped to an astonishing 67% in 2002-2021. Northeast Asia ex-China’s share of demand fell to minus 1% with Europe and North America worth just 4% and 2% of growth respectively. The chemicals world had become dangerously lopsided.
Asian Chemical Connections
The January-September 2022 multiple of BFOE crude prices per barrel over CFR Japan naphtha prices per tonne averaged just 7.9. The lowest multiple so far this year was 6.9 in August. The January-September 2022 average was the lowest annual average since our naphtha price assessments began in March 1990.
China accounted for 33% of global growth in the seven major synthetic resins between 1990 and 2001. But this jumped to 63% in 2002-2021. In distant second place during both these periods was the Asia and Pacific region at 15% and 17% respectively.
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.
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%.
China’s net styrene imports in 2022 could also fall to just 290,000 tonnes from 1.5m tonnes in 2021 and 2.8m tonnes in 2020.