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.
Asian Chemical Connections
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.
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.
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.
THE GLOBAL CHEMICALS industry is, I believe, facing a demand and supply crisis on a scale and on a level of complexity that nobody has experienced before. This is a huge subjects requiring a series of posts. Let me start by looking at China’s role in this crisis. In later posts.
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.
High-density polyethylene (HDPE) demand in the developing world in 2023 could contract by 300,000 tonnes, rather than, as in our base case, grow by 800,000 tonnes because of the food crisis.
Assuming all the other regions grew as under our base case, global growth would be 2% in 2023 rather than our base case of 4%.
Every tonne you don’t produce, when you correctly assess that the demand isn’t there in a particular market, will be important in preserving cashflow. Cashflow could once again be king, as it was just during the 2008-2009 Global Financial Crisis; and every tonne that you do produce, when you accurately assess that demand is there will, of course, support your revenues.
SUPPLY-CHAIN problems continue to disrupt the global chemicals and polymer industries more than two years since the pandemic began.
Right now, the centre of attention of supply-chain anxiety is China.
Reductions in production seem to have been forced by the logistics and demand challenges caused by Zero-COVID.