The average China PE spread between 1 January and 17 March this year was just $290, the lowest since our assessments began.
Between 2000 and 2021, before last year’s collapse, the annual spread averaged $532/tonne. This means that until spreads increase by 83% from their current levels, there will have been no recovery..
STRONG upside PP demand growth scenarios for the rest of the world might still not enough to cancel out negative growth in China
A SCENARIO-BASED approach is essential to understand US PE exports in 2023, based on non-plant economic factors
China’s cumulative HDPE demand under the downside scenario would be 97m tonnes lower than our base case. in the above chart
During this downturn, razor-like focus on fluctuating netbacks and supply and demand among all the different countries and regions will allow producers to ensure that they don’t make product for markets where there is no demand, while ensuring that they take maximum advantage of many brief periods of stronger demand and pricing.
Capacity exceeding demand is forecast to reach 218m tonnes this year from a 1990-2022 annual average of 76m tonnes.
IF China had been a typical developing economy, as the above chart illustrates, its cumulative 1990-2022 could have been 300m tonnes smaller. As history moves forward,this suggests that China’s long-term demand growth could turn negative
The decline in container freight rates has opened the SEA PE market to more competition – pulling the region’s spreads closer to the record-low China levels
China could be net exporter of 900,000 tonnes of PP this year, down from 2022 net imports of 3.2m tonnes This makes the other import markets more important for producers.
EVEN IF CHINA’S PE demand grows at 10% in 2023, with very strong growth in other regions, this year’s global capacity would still be 22m tonnes more than demand!