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28 February 2024 | 5pm to 6pm SGT

Chemicals news

US ONEOK to start chem feedstock projects in '25; mulls NGL terminal

HOUSTON (ICIS)–ONEOK plans to start up three major natural gas liquids (NGLs) projects in the US that will provide more feedstock to chemical companies – while its possible NGL export terminal remains in preliminary stages. NGLs such as ethane are the predominant feedstocks used by US crackers to produce ethylene. Crackers outside of the US have also been importing ethane and other NGLs to produce ethylene. ONEOK'S UPCOMING NGL PROJECTS The company plans to complete the remaining loop of the West Texas NGL pipeline to connect with its Arbuckle II pipeline. The project will allow ONEOK to ship 740,000 bbl/day of NGLs out of the Permian basin. The project should cost $520 million, and service should start in the first quarter of 2025. The following map shows the scope of the project. Source: ONEOK ONEOK plans to expand the Elk Creek Pipeline to 435,000 bbl/day of NGLs. It will allow the company to ship a total of 575,000 bbl/day of NGLs out of the Rocky Mountain region. The project should cost $355 million, and ONEOK should complete it in the first quarter of 2025. Elk Creek stretches for 900 miles (1,450 km). One end is near ONEOK's Riverview terminal in eastern Montana state, and the other end is at the company's existing Mid-Continent NGL operations in Bushton, Kansas, state. ONEOK plans to complete the MB-6 fractionator in Mont Belvieu, Texas, in the first quarter of 2025. The fractionator will have a capacity of 125,000 bbl/day. POTENTIAL NGL TERMINAL IN PRELIMINARY STAGESONEOK acknowledged on Wednesday that it filed an application with the US Army Corps of Engineers for a potential pipeline and terminal project. The project is in the preliminary stages of development, and ONEOK has yet to make a final investment decision (FID). The proposed terminal will be in Sabine Pass, Jefferson County, Texas state, according to the application. It will include four dock structures that could load very large gas carriers (VLGCs), very large ethane carriers (VLECs) and smaller vessels. The possible project will include 68 miles of two 20-inch diameter pipelines that will ship NGLs from ONEOK's NGL fractionators in Mont Belvieu to the terminal. ONEOK expects that the NGLs will be shipped to China, India and Europe, according to the application. The following map shows the site of the proposed export terminal. Source: US Army Corps of Engineers. The name of the project is the TXGC Terminal, and the applicants are TXGC Properties and TXGC Pipelines, subsidiaries of ONEOK. ONEOK did not provide more details about the proposed project. However, the terminal is a sign that companies are interested in developing more capacity to crack ethane outside of the US.

28-Feb-2024

MOVES: Brazil’s Unipar CFO resigns

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Unipar’s CFO Antonio Campos Rabello has handed in his resignation, effective 29 February, the Brazilian chemicals producer said late on Tuesday. Campos Rabello was also Unipar’s investor relations officer. The company’s executive industrial officer, Rodrigo Cannaval, will temporarily assume the position of Investor Relations Officer, said Unipar. “The company would like to thank Rabello for his management work, especially as to the preparation of a capital structure adequate for the company’s expansion plans, enabling access to several financing sources in terms of currency, financial institutions and markets, as well as the analysis and structuring of growth opportunities,” said Unipar. Earlier this week, Unipar said it was mulling a joint acquisition with Brazilian chemicals producer Innova, without disclosing more details. According to a report by Brazilian daily O Globo, the two companies would be looking at an acquisition in the US of around $700 million.

28-Feb-2024

PODCAST: Antwerp Declaration shows chemicals CEOs mean business

BARCELONA (ICIS)–Leaders are now more willing to stand up and demand positive action by the EU to save the region’s industrial value chains. Antwerp Declaration shows chemicals leaders now willing to be visible CEOs have responsibility to help drive Europe transformation Regulators, politicians can deliver better infrastructure, permitting European Parliament elections 6-9 June may elect more business-friendly MEPs Fundamental shift in Europe demand patterns BASF expected to reinvent its Ludwigshafen Verbund site Future could see domination by “supermajors” or more protected, regional markets In this Think Tank podcast, Will Beacham interviews ICIS Insight Editor, Nigel Davis; ICIS Senior Consultant Asia, John Richardson; and Paul Hodges, chairman of New Normal Consulting. Editor’s note: This podcast is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the presenter and interviewees, and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS. ICIS is organising regular updates to help the industry understand current market trends. Register here. Read the latest issue of ICIS Chemical Business. Read Paul Hodges' and John Richardson's ICIS blogs.

28-Feb-2024

BLOG: How Europe can avoid 'sleepwalking' towards offshoring of petrochemicals

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson: The European petrochemicals industry, to borrow Jim Ratcliffe’s phrase, does not have to continue “sleepwalking towards offshoring its industry, jobs, investments, and emissions”. Ratcliffe, the INEOS chairman, was on the money with the phrase, contained in a call-to-action letter to European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, earlier this month. This came in the same week that producers launched the Antwerp Declaration for a European Industrial Deal. This is all great news for the European industry as my two scenarios for global petrochemicals in 2030 – Supermajors or Deglobalisation – will be shaped by the actions of companies and legislators. In Europe, the threat of a further flood of competitively priced and lower-carbon imports of polymers risks lost local jobs in refining, petrochemicals and downstream (the downstream jobs being many more than upstream). And if petrochemicals plants shut plant, upstream refineries important for local fuels supply may be threatened.  You can also make a case for recycling targets being hard to achieve under Supermajors. As well as lobbying legislators, what else can European producers do? Here are my suggestions: Companies need to “make their own demand” by more forcefully arguing the case for the societal and environmental value of what they produce (while, of course, also ensuring that what they produce has strong social and environmental values!). A deeper dive into the opportunities in different end-use markets and geographies is the key. Let’s take wire-and-cable grade low-density PE (LDPE) as an example. A lot more electricity transmission in Europe will have to be built to distribute renewable energy, which of course is an environmental gain and elsewhere in the world. Could European wire-and-cable LDPE producers be a leader in providing product to Africa? This is a very different approach than during the 1993-2021 Supercycle, when booming demand was guaranteed. All producers had to do as ensure there was enough supply, preferably with low feedstock costs and efficient logistics. Editor’s note: This blog post is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS.

28-Feb-2024

Saudi SABIC swings to net loss in 2023 on Hadeed sale, challenging market

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi Arabia’s chemicals major SABIC swung to a net loss of Saudi riyal (SR) 2.77bn ($739m) in 2023, largely due to one-off losses related to a divestment, while earnings from continued operations shrank amid challenging global market conditions. in Saudi Riyal (SR) bn 2023 2022 % Change Revenue 141.5 183.1 -22.7 EBITDA 19.0 36.4 -47.7 Net income from continuing operations 1.3 15.8 -91.8 Net income attributable to equity holders of the parent -2.8 16.5 – The company's net loss for 2023 was "driven mainly from the fair valuation of the Saudi Iron and Steel Co (Hadeed) business", SABIC in a filing to the Saudi bourse Tadawul on 27 February. In early September 2023, SABIC announced it had agreed to sell its entire stake in the Saudi Iron and Steel Co (Hadeed) to Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund for SR12.5bn. The sale resulted in non-cash losses worth SR2.93bn. From continuing operation, full-year net income declined by 91.8% on reduced profit margins for major products, as well as lower earnings of joint ventures and associated firms. SABIC also incurred charges from non-recurring items amounting to SR3.47bn in 2023,“as a result of impairment charges and write-offs of certain capital and financial assets as well as provisions for the restructuring program in Europe and constructive obligations”. Meanwhile, SABIC’s average product sales price in 2023 fell by 21%, reflecting the global downturn in petrochemical markets, it said. Overall sales volumes fell by 2% year on year in 2023 amid sluggish end-user demand, the company said. "Year 2023 presented numerous challenges for the petrochemical industry – the market environment was shaped by lackluster macroeconomic sentiment, weak end-user demand, and a wave of incremental supply for a large suite of products," it said. The company's petrochemicals business posted a 20% year-on-year decline in sales to SR131.3bn in 2023, with EBITDA down by 42% at SR14.6bn. "The petrochemical industry navigates a challenging operating environment – underwhelming demand within our target markets led to lower year end product prices and there remains considerable uncertainty heading into the first quarter of 2024," SABIC CEO Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh said. "The announced divestment of Hadeed is proceeding as planned – this optimization of internal resources will enhance our core focus on petrochemicals," he said. SABIC is also pursuing a number of initiatives to address the "competiveness of our European assets" aimed at a "maintainable and modernized footprint in the region", Al-Fageeh added. The company plans a higher capital expenditure of between $4bn and 5bn in 2024, compared with $3.5bn-3.8bn last year. SABIC has started construction of its $6.4bn manufacturing complex in China’s southern Fujian province. The project will include a mixed-feed steam cracker with up to 1.8m tonne/year ethylene (C2) capacity and various downstream units producing ethylene glycols (EG), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polycarbonate (PC), among other products. SABIC is 70%-owned by energy giant Saudi Aramco. ($1 = SR3.75)

28-Feb-2024

AdvanSix petitions US to impose Superfund taxes on imports of nylon 6, capro

HOUSTON (ICIS)–AdvanSix has requested that the US impose Superfund taxes on imports of nylon 6 and caprolactam (capro). On Tuesday, AdvanSix did not immediately respond to a request for comment. AdvanSix proposed a tax rate of $14.77/ton. The next step is for the government to gather comments and consider requests for hearings about AdvanSix's request. The deadline to file comments or request hearings is 22 April. HOW THE SUPERFUND TAX WORKSThe US introduced the Superfund taxes in mid-2022 on taxable chemicals and imports of taxable substances. The proceeds raised by the taxes will help replenish the government's Superfund program, which pays for clean-up at waste sites. The Superfund tax regime divides materials into two groups. The first group is levied on the sale or use of 42 chemicals by producers or importers. Many of these chemicals are fundamental building blocks such as ethylene, propylene, butadiene (BD), benzene, toluene, xylene and methane. The second group is restricted to imports and covers substances that are sold or used in the US. This second batch of taxes applies to substances that contain at least 20% of the 42 taxable chemicals. In addition, the taxable rate would depend on the proportion of the 42 taxable chemicals contained in the substance. The request by AdvanSix falls under this second group. As part of its request AdvanSix filed two petitions asking the US to add nylon 6 and capro to its list of taxable substances. Thumbnail shows nylon Image by Shutterstock.

27-Feb-2024

Latin America stories: weekly summary

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Here are some of the stories from ICIS Latin America for the week ended on 23 February. NEWS Argentina manufacturing output falls 12% in December Argentina’s recession is hitting the petrochemicals-intensive manufacturing sectors hard, with output down 11.9% in December, year on year, the country’s statistics body Indec said late on Thursday. Mexico’s secondary activities output up 1.2% year on year in December Output in Mexico’s petrochemicals-intensive secondary activities rose in December by 1.2%, year on year, the country’s statistics office Inegi said this week. Pause in PVC projects ‘prudent’ until prices rise to $1,200/tonne – Orbia CEO Depressed global polyvinyl chloride (PVC) prices prompted Orbia to take the “prudent” decision to put new projects on hold, the CEO of the Mexican chemical producer said on Thursday. Petrochemicals margins could worsen in 2024 – Mexico’s Alpek Mexican chemicals producer Alpek’s stock was falling more than 3% on Wednesday afternoon after the company issued a downbeat guidance for 2024 in which petrochemicals margins could worsen from the already weak 2023 averages. Brazil's Braskem Q4 main chemicals, resins sales fall on lower demand Braskem’s main chemicals and resins sales in its domestic market fell by 15% and 9%, respectively, in the fourth quarter, year on year, on the back of persistent poor demand, the Brazilian petrochemicals major said this week. Brazil’s Unigel gets green light from creditors for debt restructuring Unigel has agreed a Brazilian reais (R) 3.9 billion ($791 million) debt restructuring with its creditors, which has saved the beleaguered styrenics, acrylics and fertilizer producer from filing for bankruptcy for the time being. US Stepan recovering LatAm surfactants market share, margins – CEO Stepan is recovering its share in the Latin American surfactants market following supply chain disruptions in the second half of 2022, Scott Behrens, CEO of the US-based company, said on Tuesday. PRICINGLat Am PP domestic prices fall in Colombia on cheaper imports Domestic polypropylene (PP) prices were down in Colombia due to more competitive prices for imported products. In other Latin American countries, prices were steady. Lat Am PE buyers on the sidelines waiting for March prices Domestic, international polyethylene (PE) prices were assessed unchanged this week across Latin American countries. Mexico PET industry expecting stable sales during the upcoming peak bottle season Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) prices in Mexico held steady this week, with weak demand and ample supply in February. Brazil ethanol sales continue to face positive results in 2024 According to Unica, Brazil's ethanol sales grew by 38.22% in January over the same time frame in 2023. With this achievement, sales volume has surpassed its highest point since October 2020.

26-Feb-2024

Americas top stories: weekly summary

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News from the week ended 23 February. LyondellBasell to lease California plant to produce recycled resins from waste LyondellBasell has acquired a recycling plant in California from PreZero in which it plans to produce post-consumer recycled resins from plastic waste, the US chemicals major said on Tuesday. Brazil’s Unigel gets green light from creditors for debt restructuring Unigel has agreed a Brazilian reais (R) 3.9 billion ($791 million) debt restructuring with its creditors, which has saved the beleaguered styrenics, acrylics and fertilizer producer from filing for bankruptcy for the time being. Mexico's Orbia to pause PVC investments after weak Q4 results Orbia will be pausing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) capacity expansion due to weak market economics which weighed on its 2023 earnings, the Mexico-based producer said. US Huntsman expects gradual recovery, seeks to boost prices and volume Huntsman expects a gradual recovery to take hold in 2024, in which the company will attempt to pursue higher prices and recover share, the CEO said on Thursday. Pembina to supply Dow Canada net-zero petchem project with ethane Canadian midstream energy firm Pembina Pipeline has entered into long-term agreements to supply Dow’s upcoming net-zero petrochemicals project at Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta province with 50,000 bbl/day of ethane.

26-Feb-2024

BLOG: Thinking ‘out of the box’ will deliver major revenue and profit growth in the New Normal world

LONDON (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Chemicals & The Economy by Paul Hodges, which highlights the need for new thinking in today’s changing markets. Editor’s note: This blog post is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS. Paul Hodges is the chairman of consultants New Normal Consulting.

26-Feb-2024

Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 23 February. Europe PE/PP contract prices reach three figure hikes for February Contract prices for European polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) have settled upwards from initial moves earlier in February, in the pivotal third week of the month. Chemical firms back call for stronger business environment in EU The chief executives of BASF, INEOS, Covestro, Clariant and Dow Europe among others on Tuesday backed a new declaration calling for stronger European Commission prioritisation of business, calling for an industrial deal to be placed at the core of the new Parliament. Europe propylene limitations raise concerns down value chain The European propylene (C3) supply and demand balance is in a tighter than expected position due to a combination of healthy demand and planned and unplanned production constraints. BASF navigates low-growth environment as China Verbund spending continues As BASF prepares to provide more detail on its 2023 financial performance, the Germany-based chemicals major is to navigate the still-chilly waters of 2024 as spending on its flagship China Verbund site in Zhanjiang continues and project pipelines face ever-tougher scrutiny. INSIGHT: EU chemicals plead for help while production sinks to 1999 levels As chemical production in Europe plunges to levels last seen during the 2008/9 financial crisis and back in 1999, industry leaders are urging the EU to improve the regulatory framework and do more to protect them from unfair competition. But with the fundamentals of supply and demand so out of balance globally, there are limits to how much politicians can achieve in Europe.

26-Feb-2024

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