In November 2021, the premium for overseas PP injection grade prices over prices in China reached a historic peak of $408/tonne. But in 1-18 November 2022, the premium was $113/tonne. Premiums have fallen in every month since April this year, resulting in a decline in China exports.
Asian Chemical Connections
China’s HDPE in demand in 2023 could fall by as much as 4% over 2022. Next year’s net imports may slip to as low as 3.8m tonnes from around 5.7m tonnes in 2022.
Cumulative downside demand in the above chart would total 5bn – 91m tonnes lower than our base case.
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.
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.
THIS IS A POLYPROYPENE ((PP) world being turned upside down. China has entered a period of lower growth with capacity additions so big that imports are collapsing as China also starts to substantially increase exports.
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%.