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Methanol is primarily produced from surplus coal and natural gas and used to produce methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), acetic acid, and formaldehyde. It has many general solvent and antifreeze applications and can be used to fuel internal combustion engines, although it is usually blended with gasoline.

Formaldehyde is used in pressed wood products, disinfectants and adhesives. It is also used to make chemicals for construction, automotive, healthcare and consumer products and applications. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for more than 60% of global consumption of formaldehyde and the construction industry is the largest global consumer by sector.

Market growth is propelled by growing demand for alternative fuel applications and methanol-to-olefins (MTO) technology, but hampered by fluctuating methanol prices.

ICIS provides actionable market news in real time including weekly price updates (daily for Asia). We cover pricing trends, market news, and market fundamentals in each region and our editors in China, Singapore, London, and Houston provide a comprehensive view of the global market.

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2024 and beyond: global chemicals outlook

The global landscape for chemicals has changed significantly, with a lower demand growth expected to persist, however within these challenges and changes lies opportunity for those who adapt.

Methanol news

India to develop Iran’s Chabahar port; expand international trade

MUMBAI (ICIS)–India and Iran are currently charting plans to acquire equipment and machinery to enhance the capacity and increase vehicular movement at Chabahar port, after the two countries signed a 10-year deal to develop part of the Iranian port. State-owned Indian Ports Global Ltd (IPGL) and the Ports & Maritime Organisation (PMO) of Iran signed the agreement to develop and manage the Shahid-Behesti terminal at the Chabahar Port in southeastern Iran. “These efforts had been hampered in the past due to the US sanctions on Iran,” a source from India’s Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways said, citing international sanctions imposed on the Middle Eastern country, which is suspected to be developing nuclear weapons. IPGL will invest around $120m in equipping the port, with India offering additional financing worth $250m for the development of mutually identified projects aimed at improving port infrastructure, the source said. Iran’s Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman consists of the Shahid Beheshti port, which will be developed by India, and the Shahid Kalantri port. “The long-term contract will further strengthen ties between the two nations and highlights the importance of Chabahar as a gateway for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian countries,” the shipping ministry said in an official announcement on 13 May. “The Chabahar Port has easy access to India's west coast. The long-term contract will give a significant boost to economic activities and establish our growing role in developing global trade & commerce,” Indian shipping minister Sarbananda Sonowal posted on social media platform X on 14 May. India imports methanol, bitumen, liquefied propane, inorganic/organic chemicals, among others from Iran; while it exports pharmaceuticals, rice, tea, sugar and fruits to the Middle Eastern country. The Chabahar project is part of the proposed International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a multi-modal transportation network of ship, rail and road route for moving goods between India, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe. India and Iran had initially signed an agreement for the development of the port in 2003, but the project was stalled due to opposition from the US. The current deal replaces a 2016 agreement between the two countries that was being renewed periodically. IPGL, which took over operations at the Shahid Beheshti port in 2018, has handled more than 90,000 20-foot-equivalent units of container traffic and more than 8.4m tonnes of bulk and general cargo since then, the source from the shipping ministry said. The lack of a long-term agreement was, however, impacting investment by shippers and investors in the region. “The industry was initially uncomfortable about allowing its long-term supply chains to pass through Chabahar port as the Indian government did not have a long-term agreement with Iran for the port,” the official said. Negotiations for a long-term deal between the two countries had been stalled due to differences on several issues, including a disagreement on an international arbitration framework in case of disputes, he added. The Shahid Beheshti port is being developed in four phases; and on completion of all four phases, port capacity will be 82m tonnes/year, as per IPGL’s website. The first phase of the development was inaugurated in December 2017. Despite its potential, the Chabahar project could face hurdles due to the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran, the government source said. US state department spokesman Vedant Patel on 14 May warned of possible sanctions against those engaging with the Iranian government. Focus article by Priya Jestin

27-May-2024

Proman Stena Bulk launches methanol-fueled chemical tanker in Singapore

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Proman Stena Bulk, a joint venture between Sweden-based tanker firm Stena Bulk and Swiss methanol producer Proman, on Thursday officially launched its sixth methanol-fueled joint venture chemical tanker in Singapore. The 49,900-deadweight tonnage (DWT) vessel called Stena Prosperous will be bunkered with a 20:80 green methanol and conventional methanol blend, they said in a joint statement. The fuel blend used by the vessel delivers carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) savings of 31% compared with a ship that runs on Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO), with lower emissions of particulate matter (PM), sulphur oxides (SOx), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Stena Prosperous is the last of six vessels in Proman Stena Bulk’s joint venture fleet of methanol-fueled tankers order placed in 2019, with the first ship delivered in June 2022. “With its cleaner burning qualities, methanol delivers immediate air quality benefits today, and the pathway demonstrated by our 20/80 blending strategy here in Singapore means that ship owners are also increasingly seeing it as a viable marine fuel for the future,” Proman CEO David Cassidy said. All six vessels running on methanol are now in commercial operation, with two on long-term time-charter. The fleet is currently crewed and operated by Stena Sphere company Northern Marine Group, which has highlighted that technical similarities of the tankers to conventionally fueled vessels mean they do not require a completely new set of operating procedures. Using methanol instead of conventional marine fuels virtually eliminates particulate matter and SOx, and cuts NOx by up to 80% during combustion. Technologies such as carbon capture, storage and utilization used in the production process cut emissions further, and green methanol produced from biogas can bring more than 90% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings. Additional reporting by Keven Zhang

23-May-2024

Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 10 May. Europe propylene supply rebalancing on derivative restart, cracker issues Propylene spot supply is returning to a more balanced position with a key derivative unit now back on stream and a couple of cracker issues disrupting output. Europe businesses face tough market and regulatory hurdles in long term – LyondellBasell Market conditions in Europe are likely to remain challenging in the long term while changing regulations are increasing costs for businesses, LyondellBasell Industries said on Thursday, after announcing a strategic review for most of its operations in the region. LyondellBasell launches review of European assets LyondellBasell has launched a strategic review of the bulk of its operations in Europe, the producer said on Wednesday, based on its strategy to focus on assets perceived to have long-lasting competitive advantage Chandra Asri aspires to become regional player with Shell Singapore purchase Chandra Asri is looking to develop its presence in southeast Asia and become a key regional player with its purchase of Shell’s refining and petrochemicals assets in Singapore alongside commodities major Glencore, the Indonesia-based firm said on Wednesday. IPEX: April index rises for fourth month in a row on firmer pricing in northwest Europe, northeast Asia The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) was up 1.5% in April month on month as production constraints continue to push contract prices up across some commodities, mainly in northwest Europe and northeast Asia. BASF puts ammonia, methanol, melamine plants up for sale at Ludwigshafen BASF has engaged plant sale specialists International Process Plants (IPP) to sell idled ammonia, methanol and melamine units located at its loss-making Ludwigshafen site in Germany.

13-May-2024

LOGISTICS: Global container rates surge, chem tanker rates mixed, Panama Canal wait times ease

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Global rates for shipping containers are surging, liquid chemical tanker rates were mixed, and wait times at the Panama Canal have eased, highlighting this week’s logistics roundup. CONTAINER RATES Container rates surged this week after rising last week for the first time since January amid general rate increases (GRIs) implemented because of rising demand and as continued Red Sea diversions have overall capacity fully deployed. Maersk CEO Vincent Clerc said during a Q1 earnings conference call that demand is trending toward the higher end of its guidance. Average global rates surged by 16% over the week, according to supply chain advisors Drewry and as shown in the following chart. Meanwhile, rates from Shanghai to the US West Coast jumped by 18%, and rates from Shanghai to the East Coast soared by 16%, as shown in the following chart. Drewry expects freight rates ex-China to continue increasing in the upcoming week amid a huge demand spike and tight capacity. Capacity is growing from newly built ships, according to international freight platform ShipHub, who said that 2.83m 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of container ship capacity is on order for 2024, after 2.34m TEUs were ordered in 2023. That is almost double the capacity added in 2021 and 2022, which were both around 1.1m TEUs. Shipping analysts Linerlytica said that over-capacity concerns are on the backburner with containership diversions to the Cape route effectively removing more than 7% of the total fleet. Rates from North China to the US Gulf were flat this week after spiking the previous week, as shown in the following chart from ocean and freight rate analytics firm Xeneta. Container ships and costs for shipping containers are relevant to the chemical industry because while most chemicals are liquids and are shipped in tankers, container ships transport polymers, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), are shipped in pellets. They also transport liquid chemicals in isotanks. LIQUID CHEM TANKER RATES US chemical tanker freight rates assessed by ICIS were mostly unchanged but fell from the US Gulf (USG) to ARA. From the USG to Rotterdam, there are bits of part cargo space still available for April. This trade lane has been mostly quiet over the last few weeks. If this trend continues, this route could face further downward pressure. On the other hand, from the USG to the Caribbean, rates have risen slightly since last week leaving the market overall mixed. Methanol continues to be active out of this market to various destinations. From the USG to Brazil, space remains tight despite the slow market as only a handful of indications being seen in the market.  Space is available for H1 May out of Columbia and H2 May out of the USG. Although ICIS does not assess spot rates from the USG to the Mediterranean, this trade lane has continued to tighten up, with several cargoes of Glycols, Caustic and Veg Oil fixed. There is limited space for May which may likely cause rates to further tighten, although there could be some working space for June. PANAMA CANAL Wait times for non-booked vessels ready for transit fell for both northbound and southbound transits this week, according to the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) vessel tracker and as shown in the following image. Wait times a week ago were 4.4 days for northbound traffic and 6.5 days for southbound vessels. The PCA will increase the number of slots available for Panamax vessels to transit the waterway beginning 16 May and will add another slot for Neopanamax vessels on 1 June based on the present and projected water levels in Gatun Lake. PORT OF BALTIMORE The Key Bridge Response Unified Command (UC) is scheduled to use precision cuts made with small charges to remove a large section of the Francis Scott Key Bridge wreckage from on top of the container ship Dali, which struck the bridge on 26 March and caused its collapse. Source: Key Bridge Response 2024 The exact time of the precision cuts will depend on multiple environmental and operational factors. The closing of the port did not have a significant impact on the chemicals industry as chemicals make up only about 4% of total tonnage that moves through the port, according to data from the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The ACC said less than 1% of all chemicals involved in waterborne commerce, both domestic and trade volumes, pass through Baltimore. Additional reporting by Kevin Callahan

10-May-2024

LyondellBasell launches review of European assets

LONDON (ICIS)–LyondellBasell has launched a strategic review of the bulk of its operations in Europe, the producer said on Wednesday, based on its strategy to focus on assets perceived to have long-lasting competitive advantage. The producer will conduct a review of its European olefins, polyolefins, intermediates and derivatives businesses, driven by its move announced last year to reinvest in its strongest performing operations. "At the 2023 Capital Markets Day, we stated our intent to concentrate our portfolio around businesses with long-lasting competitive advantage and to reinvest around those advantaged areas generating superior returns at meaningful scale. These criteria have not changed," said Lyondell CEO Peter Vanacker. The strategy announced at the 2023 investor day was based around three pillars: prioritizing growth spending on businesses where the company “has leading positions in expanding and well-positioned markets”, growing circular solutions earnings to $1 billion/year by 2030, and shifting from cost controls to a broader idea of value creation. Energy-intensive industries in Europe have been challenged by the sharp increase in gas prices seen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which remain substantially above pre-war and pre-pandemic norms despite falling dramatically since the nadir of winter 2022. Described by former BASF chief Martin Brudermuller earlier this year as a “systemic” change to the European operating environment, the higher cost of operating Europe has prompted a number of reviews by large global players. BASF is looking to cut €1 billion off the annual operating costs of its Ludwigshafen, Germany, complex. The company tapped plant sale specialists International Process Plants this week to explore the sale of its Ludwigshafen ammonia, methanol and melamine units, idled in 2023 due to high production costs. Dow also announced plans to review underperforming and smaller assets. A significant proportion of any cuts had been expected to land in Europe, although the US major has not given an update on the process since it was announced in early 2023. Indorama Ventures is also currently reviewing six assets out of its "West" portfolio for potential shutdown. While global gas pricing has come down, the cost of shipping gas will always be higher than sending it through a dedicated pipeline, as was the case with the Russia-derived natural gas that made up around half of the EU’s energy consumption prior to the war. As part of its stated intent to continue developing its sustainable and circular business, investments in a commercial-scale MoReTec plant, LyondellBasell's proprietary technology to convert plastic waste into liquid raw materials, and the development of a circularity hub in the Cologne, Germany region, will continue as planned, the company said. “The company will prioritize its investments to align operations with our circularity and net zero ambitions," Vanacker added. "We understand that strategic assessments can create uncertainty for our employees and customers, but we are committed to operate our assets safely and reliably throughout this process." LyondellBasell European prodcution Product Capacity (kt) Ethylene 1,805 HDPE 1,260 LDPE 740 MTBE 810 Polypropylene 2,175 Propylene 990 Propylene Oxide 785 Styrene 680 TBA 970 Update re-leads, adds detail throughout Additional reporting by Graeme Paterson, infographics by Yashas Mudumbai

08-May-2024

LOGISTICS: Container rates rise for first time since January; Canadian rail workers vote to strike

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Global average rates for shipping containers rose for the first time since January, workers at freight rail carriers Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) have voted in favor of a strike, and the US regulator that oversees railroads finalized a rule allowing reciprocal switching, highlighting this week’s logistics roundup. CONTAINER RATES Shipping container rates have been rising steadily since December when attacks by Houthi rebels on commercial vessels in the Red Sea forced carriers to take the longer route around the tip of the African continent before leveling off last week. This week, the global average for 40-foot shipping containers rose by 1%, according to supply chain advisors Drewry and as shown in the following chart. Rates from Shanghai to the US East Coast edged slightly higher, but rates from China to the West Coast edged slightly lower, as shown in the following chart. Judah Levine, head of research at online freight shipping marketplace and platform provider Freightos, said that the overall container market has settled into a new routine that avoids the Red Sea. “Though significant backlogs, congestion and equipment shortages seen during the first few weeks of the crisis have dissipated, adjustments have resulted in some moderate but ongoing disruptions,” Levine said in a weekly update. He said that even after falling drastically since the beginning of the year, prices remain well above normal and are likely to increase relative to this new floor as demand is set to increase for peak season. Container ships and costs for shipping containers are relevant to the chemical industry because while most chemicals are liquids and are shipped in tankers, container ships transport polymers, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), are shipped in pellets. They also transport liquid chemicals in isotanks. LIQUID CHEMICAL TANKERS US liquid chemical tanker freight rates assessed by ICIS were unchanged this week. From the US Gulf (USG) to Asia, the market has been quieter this week as a holiday-shortened week has sidelined some key players. There have been only a few parcels quoted, which is placing downward pressure on freight rates for smaller lots. Larger base cargoes of monoethylene glycol (MEG), methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), and methanol have been popular chemicals on this route, keeping larger freight rates steady. From the USG to India, the market has been very quiet. PORT OF BALTIMORE Since the opening of a fourth channel into the Port of Baltimore, 171 commercial vessels have transited the waterway, including five of the vessels that were trapped inside the port after the containership Dali struck the Key Bridge, causing it to collapse, according to the Unified Command (UC). The MSC Passion III entered the port on 29 April, according to vesselfinder.com, making it the first container ship to enter the port since the accident. The closing of the port did not have a significant impact on the chemicals industry as chemicals make up only about 4% of total tonnage that moves through the port, according to data from the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The ACC said less than 1% of all chemicals involved in waterborne commerce, both domestic and trade volumes, pass through Baltimore. But a market participant in Ohio told ICIS previously that it is seeing delays in delivery times for imports as vessels originally destined to offload in Baltimore are getting re-routed to other ports. PANAMA CANAL Wait times for non-booked vessels ready for transit edged for higher both directions this week, according to the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) vessel tracker and as shown in the following image. Wait times a week ago were 2.5 days for northbound traffic and 5.6 for southbound traffic. The PCA will increase the number of slots available for Panamax vessels to transit the waterway beginning 16 May and will add another slot for Neopanamax vessels on 1 June based on the present and projected water levels in Gatun Lake. RAILROADS Workers at freight rail carriers Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) have voted in favor of a strike. A first work stoppage could occur as early as 22 May, if no new collective agreements are reached by then, officials at labor union Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) said in a televised announcement on 1 May. The rail carriers warned that a work stoppage would disrupt supply chains throughout North America and constrain trade between Canada and the US and Mexico. The two railroads account for the bulk of freight rail traffic in Canada. Meanwhile, chemical industry participants were largely supportive of a final rule adopted by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) on reciprocal switching for inadequate service by railroads, but think the scope was too narrow and it does not cover a significant portion of rail traffic. For the first time, the STB said it is requiring that three service metrics be maintained on a standardized basis across all Class 1 railroads. In the US, chemical railcar loadings represent about 20% of chemical transportation by tonnage, with trucks, barges and pipelines carrying the rest. In Canada, chemical producers rely on rail to ship more than 70% of their products, with some exclusively using rail. Rail is also the predominant shipping method for US ethanol. Additional reporting by Kevin Callahan and Stefan Baumgarten Please see the Logistics: Impact on chemicals and energy topic page

03-May-2024

Besieged by imports, Brazil’s chemicals put hopes on hefty import tariffs hike

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Brazilian chemicals producers are lobbying hard for an increase in import tariffs for key polymers and petrochemicals from 12.6% to 20%, and higher in cases, hoping the hike could slow down the influx of cheap imports, which have put them against the wall. For some products, Brazil’s chemicals trade group Abiquim, which represents producers, has made official requests for the import tariffs to go up to a hefty 35%, from 9% in some cases. On Tuesday, Abiquim said several of its member companies “are already talking about hibernating plants” due to unprofitable economics. It did so after it published another set of somber statistics for the first quarter, when imports continued entering Brazil em masse. Brazil’s government Chamber of Foreign Commerce (Camex) is concluding on Tuesday a public consultation about this, with its decision expected in coming weeks. Abiquim has been busy with the public consultation: it has made as many as 66 proposals for import tariffs to be hiked for several petrochemicals and fertilizers, including widely used polymers such polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), or expandable PS (EPS), to mention just a few. Other chemicals trade groups, as well as companies, have also filed requests for import tariffs to be increased. In total, 110 import tariffs. HARD TO FIGHT OFFBrazil has always depended on imports to cover its internal chemicals demand, but the extraordinary low prices coming from competitors abroad has made Brazil’s chemicals plant to run with operating rates of 65% or lower. More and more, the country’s chemicals facilities are becoming white elephants which are far from their potential, as customers find in imported product more competitive pricing. Considering this dire situation and taking into account that the current government in Brasilia led by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva may be more receptive to their demands, Abiquim has put a good fight in publica and private for measure which could shore up chemical producers’ competitiveness. This could come after the government already hiked import tariffs on several products in 2023 and re-introduced a tax break, called REIQ, for some chemicals which had been withdrawn by the previous Administration. While Brazil’s chemicals production competitiveness is mostly affected by higher input costs, with natural gas costs on average five times higher than in the US, the industry is hopeful a helping hand from the government in the form of higher import tariffs could slow down the flow of imports into Brazil. As a ‘price taker region’ given its dependence on imports, Latin American domestic producers have taken a hit in the past two years. In Brazil, polymers major Braskem is Abiquim’s commanding voice. Abiquim, obviously, has always been very outspoken – even apocalyptic – about the fate of its members as they try to compete with overseas countries, namely China who has been sending abroad product at below cost of production. The priorities in China’s dictatorial system are not related to the balance of markets, but to keep employment levels stable so its citizens find fewer excuses to protest against the regime which keeps them oppressed. Capitalist market dynamics are for the rest of the world to balance; in China’s dictatorial, controlled-economy regime the priority is to make people feel the regime’s legitimacy can come from never-ending economic growth. The results of such a policy for the rest of the world – not just in chemicals but in all industrial goods – is becoming clear: unprofitable industries which cannot really compete with heavily subsidized Chinese players. The results of such a policy in China are yet to be seen, but subsiding at all costs any industry which creates employment may have debt-related lasting consequences: as they mantra goes, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Abiquim’s executive president urged Lula’s cabinet to look north, to the US, where the government has imposed hefty tariffs on almost all China-produced industrial goods or raw materials for manufacturing production. “[The hikes in import tariffs] have improved the US’ scenario: despite the aggressive advance in exports by Asian countries, the drop in US [chemicals] production in 2023 was of 1%, while in Brazil the index for production fell nearly by 10%,” said Andre Passos. “The country adopted an increase in import taxes of over 30% to defend its market from unfair competition. The taxation for some inputs, such as phenol, resins and adipic [acid], for example, exceeds three digits. “Here, we are suggesting an increase in rates to 20% in most claims … We need to have this breathing space for the industry to recover,” he concluded. As such, the figures for the first quarter showed no sign of imports into Brazil slowing down. The country posted a trade deficit $9.9 billion during the January-March period; the 12-month accumulated (April 2023 to March 2024) deficit stood at $44.7 billion. A record high of 61.2 million tonnes of chemicals products entered Brazil in Q1; in turn, the country’s industry exported 14.6 million tonnes. Abiquim proposals for higher import tariffs Product Current import tariff Proposed tariff Expandable polystyrene, unfilled, in primary form 12.6% 20% Other polystyrenes in primary forms 12.6% 20% Carboxymethylcellulose with content > =75%, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Other polyurethanes in liquids and pastes 12.6% 20% Phthalic anhydride 10.8% 20%  Sodium hydrogen carbonate (bicarbonate) 9% 35% Copolymers of ethylene and alpha-olefin, with a density of less than 0.94 12.6% 20% Other orthophthalic acid esters 11% 20% Other styrene polymers, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Other silicon dioxides 0% 18% Other polyesters in liquids and pastes  12.6% 20% Commercial ammonium carbonates and other ammonium carbonates 9% 18% Other unsaturated polyethers, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Polyethylene terephthalate, with a viscosity index of 78 ml/g or more 12.6% 20% Phosphoric acid with an iron content of less than 750 ppm 9% 18% Dinonyl or didecyl orthophthalates 11% 20% Poly(vinyl chloride), not mixed with other substances, obtained by suspension process 12.6% 20% Poly(vinyl chloride), not mixed with other substances, obtained by emulsion process 12.6% 20% Methyl polymethacrylate, in primary form  12.6% 20% White mineral oils (vaseline or paraffin oils) 4% 35% Other polyetherpolyols, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Other unfilled epoxy resins in primary forms 12.6% 20% Silicon dioxide obtained by chemical precipitation 9% 18% Acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber in plates, sheets, etc 11% 35% Other organic anionic surface agents, whether or not put up for retail sale, not classified under previous codes 12.6% 23% Phenol (hydroxybenzene) and its salts 7% 20% Fumaric acid, its salts and esters 10 ,8% 20% Plasticizers and plastics 10 ,8% 20% Maleic anhydride 10 ,8% 20% Adipic acid salts and esters 10 ,8% 20% Propylene copolymers, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Adipic acid 9% 20% Unfilled polypropylene, in primary form 12.6% 20% Filled polypropylene, in primary form 12.6% 20% Methacrylic acid methyl esters 10 ,8% 20% Other ethylene polymers, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Acrylic acid 2-ethylhexyl esters 0% 20% 2-Ethylexanoic acid (2-ethylexoic acid) 10. 8% 20% Other copolymers of ethylene and vinyl acetate, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Other unfilled polyethylenes, density >= 0.94, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Polyethylene with a density of less than 0.94, unfilled 12.6% 20% Other saturated acyclic monoalcohol acetates, c atom <= 8 10. 8% 20% Polyethylene with a density of less than 0.94, with filler 12.6% 20% Triacetin 10. 8% 20% Sodium methylate in methanol 12.6% 20% Stearic alcohol (industrial fatty alcohol) 12.6% 20% N-butyl acetate                              11% 20% Stearic acid (industrial monocarboxylic fatty acid) 5% 35% Alkylbenzene mixtures 11% 20% Organic, non-ionic surface agents 12.6% 23% Ammonium nitrate, whether or not in aqueous solution 0.0% 15% Monoethanolamine and its salts 12.6% 20% Isobutyl alcohol (2-methyl-1-propanol) 10.8% 20% Butan-1-ol (n-butyl alcohol) 10.8% 20% Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR), food grade as established by the Food Chemical Codex, in primary forms 10.8% 22% Styrene                                9% 18% Hexamethylenediamine and its salts 10.8% 20% Latex from other synthetic or artificial rubbers 10.8% 35% Propylene glycol (propane-1, 2-diol) 10.8% 20% Preparations 12.6% 20% Linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acids and their salts 12.6% 23% 4,4'-Isopropylidenediphenol (bisphenol A, diphenylolpropane) and its salts 10.8% 20% Dipropylene glycol 12.6% 20% Butanone (methyl ethyl ketone) 10.8% 20% Ethyl acetate                                 10.8% 20% Methyl-, ethyl- and propylcellulose, hydroxylated 0.0% 20% Front page picture: Chemical production facilities outside Sao Paulo  Source: Union of Chemical and Petrochemical industries in the state of Sao Paulo (Sinproquim) Focus article by Jonathan Lopez Additional information by Thais Matsuda and Bruno Menini

30-Apr-2024

LOGISTICS: Asia-US container rates fall; tanker rates stable to softer; bridge collapse causing delays

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Shipping container rates continue to fall, liquid chemical tanker rates are stable to softer, and the bridge collapse at the Port of Baltimore has led to longer delivery times for imports, highlighting this week’s logistics roundup. CONTAINER RATES Rates for shipping containers from east Asia and China to the US continue to fall along with average global rates as capacity remains ample to handle the longer routes as commercial vessels continue to avoid the Suez Canal. Supply chain advisors Drewry said average rates ticked lower this week but remain 64% higher than the same week a year ago, as shown in the following chart. Rates from Asia to the US and Europe have also continued to fall, as shown in the following chart. Drewry said it expects a minor decrease in Transpacific spot rates and for stability along the Transatlantic and Asia-Europe trade lanes. Judah Levine, head of research at online freight shipping marketplace and platform provider Freightos, said rates along the US East Coast have fallen since the collapse of the Key Bridge in Baltimore, which signals to him that regional container traffic continues to flow. Levine said downward pressure will continue because of soft demand and it being the slow season for container trade, but that if threats persist in the Red Sea and commercial vessels continue to divert away from the Suez Canal, prices will remain above normal. Container ships and costs for shipping containers are relevant to the chemical industry because while most chemicals are liquids and are shipped in tankers, container ships transport polymers, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), which are shipped in pellets. They also transport liquid chemicals in isotanks. PORT OF BALTIMORE The Unified Command (UC) continues to remove containers from the Dali and clear wreckage from the collapsed bridge at the entrance to the Port of Baltimore. Source: Key Bridge Response 2024 While the closure of the port has not had a direct impact on the flow of chemicals, a market participant in Ohio said it is seeing delays in delivery times for imports as vessels originally destined to offload in Baltimore are getting re-routed to other ports. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) expects to open a limited access channel 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep by the end of April, and are aiming to reopen the permanent, 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep federal navigation channel by the end of May, restoring port access to normal capacity. As of 11 April, approximately 38 containers have been removed, the UC said, which is necessary for safe access to them begin removing the segments of the fallen bridge that lie across the ship’s bow. While marine traffic is still limited, 69 vessels have transited through since the creation of the temporary alternate channels. LIQUID CHEM TANKERS US liquid chemical tanker freight rates as assessed by ICIS held mostly steady this week – except from the US Gulf Coast (USG) to India. There is downward pressure on rates along the USG-Asia trade lane as several outsiders have come on berth for both April and May, adding to the available tonnage for completion cargos. On the other hand, rates from the USG to Rotterdam were steady this week even as space is limited and there are no outsiders on berth. Contract tonnage continues to prevail, with continued interest in styrene, MTBE and ethanol. There has been activity on the spot market, but owners are still working with COA customers to finalize their needs before committing to others. For the USG to South America trade lane rates remain steady with several inquiries for methanol widely viewed in the market. PANAMA CANAL Wait times for non-booked vessels ready for transit edged higher both directions this week, according to the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) vessel tracker and as shown in the following image. Wait times last week were 0.8 days for northbound traffic and 0.8 days for southbound traffic. Please see the Logistics: Impact on chemicals and energy topic page With additional reporting by Emily Friedman and Kevin Callahan

12-Apr-2024

China petrochemical futures track crude gains on upbeat March factory data

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s petrochemical futures markets were tracking gains in crude prices on Monday, with Brent trading at above $87/bbl, on bullish sentiment following a return of the world’s second-biggest economy into manufacturing expansion mode. Official, Caixin March manufacturing PMIs at above 50 China methanol, SM futures prices lead gains External demand picking up for selected goods At the close of morning trade, futures prices of major petrochemicals in Chinese commodity exchanges were up by 0.2% to 1.7%. China petrochemical futures markets Prices as of 03:30 GMT (CNY/tonne) % change vs 29 March Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) 8,279 0.60% Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 5,803 0.20% Ethylene glycol (EG) 4,499 0.50% Polypropylene (PP) 7,542 0.80% Styrene monomer (SM) 9,451 1.40% Paraxylene* 8,534 0.70% Purified terephthalic acid (PTA) * 6,016 1.30% Methanol* 2,518 1.70% Sources: Dalian Commodity Exchange, *Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange At midday, Brent crude was up 30 cents at $87.30/bbl, while US crude gained 31 cents at $83.48/bbl. Crude futures were also supported by expectations of tighter supply amid output cuts by OPEC and its allies, which include Russia. Manufacturing activity in China expanded for the first time in six months, based on official data in March, generating a purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reading of 50.8, as companies accelerated production following the Lunar New Year holiday in the previous month. A separate reading by Chinese media group Caixin was more upbeat, with a higher March PMI reading of 51.1, the highest recorded since February 2023. In Caixin’s data, factory output continued to expand for the fifth straight month. The Caixin PMI surveys small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and export-oriented enterprises located in eastern coastal regions, while the official PMI is tilted toward larger state-owned enterprises. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below denotes contraction. “Both supply and demand expanded at a faster pace amid the market upturn. In March, growth in manufacturers’ output and total new orders accelerated, with the former hitting a 10-month high,” Caixin Insight Group senior economist Wang Zhe said. “External demand also picked up pace thanks to the recovery in the global economy, pushing the gauge for new export orders to its highest level since February 2023,” the economist added. “Overall, the manufacturing sector continued to improve in March, with expansion in supply and demand accelerating, and overseas demand picking up,” Wang said. “Manufacturers increased purchases and raw material inventories amid continued improvement in business optimism. However, employment remained in contraction and a depressed price level worsened,” Wang added Besides the seasonal effect, firming overseas demand also helped to push up Chinese factory activities, local brokerage Haitong Securities wrote in a note, citing that furniture, transportation equipment and electronics were enjoying strong demand. China is projected to post around a 5% GDP growth this year, slower than the 5.2% pace recorded in 2023, with a slumping property sector posing a major drag on overall economic prospects. Property and other related sectors account for about a fifth of China’s GDP. While the property slump may persist, other sectors such as electric vehicles, new energy and digital economy are posting healthy growth, said Zhang Junfeng, senior analyst at Shenzhen-based brokerage China Merchant Securities. Focus article by Fanny Zhang ($1 = CNY7.23) Additional reporting by Nurluqman Suratman Thumbnail image: At Lianyungang Port in east China's Jiangsu Province, 26 March 2024. (Shutterstock)

01-Apr-2024

TOPIC PAGE: Sustainability in the fertilizers industry

On this topic page, we gather the latest news, analysis and resources, to help you to keep track of developments in the area of sustainability in the fertilizers industry. LATEST NEWS HEADLINES New urea application rules to be implemented in England from 1 April By Deepika Thapliyal 27-Mar-24 LONDON (ICIS)–In England, famers will only be able to apply solid or liquid urea that is treated with an inhibitor from 1 April, according to new regulations from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) that come into force next month. UPM Biochemicals launches new range of bio-based plant stimulants By Sylvia Traganida 27-Mar-24 LONDON (ICIS)–UPM Biochemicals has launched a new range of bio-based plant stimulants which is an alternative to fossil raw materials-based products, the Finnish paper and renewable chemicals firm said on Tuesday. Mabanaft signs letter of intent for supply of green ammonia from Canada By Sylvia Traganida 19-Mar-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Germany-headquartered energy firm Mabanaft has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with US-based Pattern Energy for the supply of green ammonia to Mabanaft. Yara Growth Ventures invests in electrolysis technology for low-cost renewable hydrogen By Sylvia Traganida 08-Mar-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Norwegian fertilizer major Yara has invested in Danish electrolysis technology company Dynelectro through its corporate venture capital team Yara Growth Ventures. Yara signs agreement with Acme Cleantech subsidiary on green ammonia By Sylvia Traganida 01-Mar-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Norwegian fertilizer major Yara has signed an agreement with GHC SAOC for supply of ammonia with reduced carbon emissions from Acme to Yara on a long-term basis. Idemitsu to join US clean ammonia project By Stefan Baumgarten 27-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Idemitsu Kosan has agreed to join a 1.2 million tonne/year clean ammonia project that Mitsubishi Corp and Proman plan to develop at Lake Charles, Louisiana, US, it said on Tuesday. Germany’s Heraeus invests in Japanese ammonia tech company By Stefan Baumgarten 22-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–German technology group Heraeus has invested an undisclosed amount in Tsubame BHB, a Japanese company that has developed a precious metal-based technology for decentralized ammonia production. Malaysia’s PCG, Sarawak Petchem agree to study low-carbon ammonia and urea plant By Nurluqman Suratman 21-Feb-24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Malaysia’s PETRONAS Chemicals Group (PCG) and methanol producer Sarawak Petchem on Wednesday signed an agreement for a joint feasibility study aimed at establishing a low-carbon ammonia and urea production facility in Bintulu, Sarawak. Egypt’s Helwan signs agreement to produce black urea By Deepika Thapliyal 20-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–In Egypt, Helwan has signed an agreement with SML-INNO UK Ltd to set up the world's first vertical integrated unit to produce black urea, with a capacity of 130,000 tonnes annually, the company said today. EU eases climate proposals after widespread farmer protests By Chris Vlachopoulos 07-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Tuesday that the EU has agreed to ease key demands in its climate proposal plans, following intense protests from farmers. Tecnimont awarded engineering contract for Portugal green hydrogen, ammonia plant By Graeme Paterson 05-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Tecnimont has been awarded an engineering contract to develop an integrated green hydrogen and green ammonia plant at Sines, Portugal, its parent company Maire said. EU CARBON BORDER ADJUSTMENT MECHANISM (CBAM) EXPLAINED What is it? The risk of carbon leakage frustrates the EU’s efforts to meet climate objectives. It occurs when companies transfer production to countries that are less strict on emissions, or when EU products are replaced by more carbon-intensive imports. This new mechanism would counteract this risk by putting a carbon price on imports of certain goods from outside of the EU. How will it work? EU importers will buy carbon certificates corresponding to the carbon price that would have been paid, had the goods been produced under the EU's carbon pricing rules. Conversely, once a non-EU producer can show that they have already paid a price for the carbon used in the production of the imported goods, the corresponding cost can be fully deducted for the EU importer. This will help reduce the risk of carbon leakage by encouraging producers in non-EU countries to make their production processes greener. A reporting system will apply from 2023 with the objective of facilitating a smooth roll out and to facilitate dialogue with non-EU countries. Importers will start paying a financial adjustment in 2026. How is the fertilizer industry affected? The fertilizer industry is one of the sectors to fall under the CBAM. The more energy-intensive nitrogen fertilizers will be affected most in the sector by the mechanism. NEW UREA APPLICATION NORMS IN ENGLAND The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has imposed new regulations on urea application in England. Famers will only be able to apply solid or liquid urea that is treated with an inhibitor from 1 April. The move is aimed to reduce ammonia emissions, and would increase costs for farmers by an estimated £40/tonne. The new rules apply to any fertilizer that contains 1% or more of urea nitrogen, with applications of solid urea or liquid (urea ammonium nitrate) fertilizer from 1 April having to include a urease inhibitor Untreated solid urea or liquid UAN fertilizer can be applied between 15 January to 31 March each year. Untreated liquid UAN fertiliser can be applied after 1 April if agronomic justification is provided by a certified fertilizers advisor, mentioning ammonia losses will be at or below the level of when a urease inhibitor is included. Foliar urea applications targeting the crop, using normal spray nozzles do not require a urease inhibitor. The implementation of the Defra regulations was delayed by two years due to higher fertilizer prices and lack of supply following the covid pandemic and the Ukraine war. PREVIOUS  NEWS HEADLINES EU proposes relaxation in policy following farmer protests Biden Administration invests $207m in domestic fertilizer and clean energy endeavours Brazil’s state of Ceara, Bp sign MoU for green hydrogen site  Atome Energy in talks with buyers for green fertilizer from Paraguay unit Sweden's Cinis targets Asia potash market with Itochu partnership Helwan selects Eurotecnica's Euromel G5 technology for new melamine facility in Egypt India’s Adani Group plans $24bn green energy park; RIL to commission giga complex INPEX and LSB pick technology for US ammonia project Bayer partners with energy firms on hydrogen cluster in Germany S Korean group picks KBR tech for Malaysian green ammonia project Abu Qir signs MoU for green ammonia project in Egypt Yara aims to launch first container ship to run off clean ammonia India’s Odisha state approves green hydrogen, ammonia, methanol projects ADM announces launch of regenerative agriculture program in Brazil Fertiglobe completes first renewable ammonia shipment with carbon certification Allied Green Ammonia picks Topsoe’s tech for Australia project Germany’s VNG looks to secure offtake from Norwegian low carbon ammonia plant Gentari enters into agreement with AM Green to invest into a green ammonia delivery platform ITOCHU Corporation, Orascom Construction sign MOU for development of ammonia bunkering in Suez Canal India developing port infrastructure for green hydrogen exports S Korea, Saudi Arabia firms sign 46 pacts, includes blue ammonia project INSIGHT: CBAM reporting begins, fertilizer exporters to EU challenged to account for carbon KBR to supply green ammonia tech to Madoqua Power2X site in Portugal Germany’s SOM to build green hydrogen, ammonia facility in Brazil’s Piaui state US ADM and Syngenta sign MoU to collaborate on low carbon oilseeds to meet biofuel demand Tecnicas Reunidas, Allied Green Ammonia to build green hydrogen and green ammonia plant in Australia Australian fertilizer producer Orica accelerates climate change targets Nestle, Cargill and CCm Technologies launch joint UK trial on sustainable fertilizer EnBW acquires stake in planned Norwegian ammonia plant  Yara Germany signs agreement for decarbonisation of cereal cultivation using green fertilizers Hyphen, ITOCHU ink MoU to explore potential Namibia hydrogen collaboration  INSIGHT: BASF grapples with demand trough, slow road back SABIC AN ships low-carbon urea to New Zealand US Cargill and John Deere collaborate to enable revenue for farmers adopting sustainability Canada’s Lucent Bio announces approval of biodegradable nutrient delivery patent Aker, Statkraft’s 10-year PPA to spur European renewable ammonia push further BASF, Yara Clean Ammonia to evaluate low-carbon blue ammonia production facility in US Gulf Coast Yara Clean Ammonia, Cepsa to launch clean hydrogen maritime corridor EU details CBAM reporting obligations Saudi Arabia’s Ma’aden exports its first low-carbon blue ammonia shipments to China US Bunge and Nutrien Ag announce alliance to support sustainable farming practices Maire subsidiary Stamicarbon wins US green ammonia engineering contract India’s IFFCO launches liquid nano-DAP fertilizer EU Parliament backs CBAM, emissions trading measures OCP granted €100m green loan to build solar plants at Morocco facilities EU unveils plans to tackle greenwashing India’s IFFCO and CIL to manufacture nano DAP for three years USDA awards Ostara funds to boost sustainable phosphate fertilizer output Canadian prime minister confirms fertilizer emission goal is voluntary US fertilizers industry increases carbon capture in 2021 – TFI Indian president calls for reduction in chemical fertilizer use IFFCO plans to export nano urea to 25 countries Amman selects Elessent Clean Technologies for Indonesia sulphuric acid plant Lotte Chemical forms clean ammonia consultative body with RWE and Mitsubishi Corporation Global 2020-2021 specialty fertilizer demand growth led by north America, Asia BASF and Cargill extend enzymes business and distribution to US Saudi Aramco awards sulphur facilities overhaul contract to Technip India sets green hydrogen targets for shipping, oil & gas, fertilizer sectors Germany misses climate target despite lower energy consumption TFI reacts to US Congress passing the Water Resources Development ActHelm becomes a shareholder in UK bio-fertilizer company Unium Bioscience Yara inks deal to deliver fossil-free green fertilizers to Argentina Canadian firms plan fuel cell generator pilot using green ammonia Deepak Fertilizers awards contract to reduce emissions, increase productivity Saudi Aramco launches $1.5bn sustainability fund to support net zero ambition CF Industries and ExxonMobil plan CCS project in Louisiana Canada’s plan to cut fertilizer emissions is voluntary – minister Canada’s fertilizer emission goal raises food production concerns Uniper, Vesta to cooperate on renewable ammonia site in the Netherlands German Uniper to work with Japan’s JERA on US clean ammonia projects ADNOC ships first cargo of low-carbon ammonia to Germany US Mosaic and BioConsortia expand collaboration to microbial biostimulant IMO deems Mediterranean Sea area for sulphur oxides emissions control Canada's Soilgenic launches new enhanced efficiency fertilizers technology for retail Austria's Borealis aims to produce 1.8m tonnes/year of circular products by 2030 European Parliament rejects proposed carbon market reform IFA ’22: southern Africa looks to bio-fertilizer as cheaper, sustainable option IFA '22: Indian farmers will struggle to embrace specialty fertilizers – producer Canadian Nutrien plans to build world’s largest clean ammonia facility in Louisiana Japan's JGC Holdings awards green ammonia plant contract to KBR Bayer to partner with Ginkgo to produce sustainable fertilizers Australia Orica and H2U Group partner on Gladstone green ammonia project Canada sets tax credit of up to 60% for carbon capture projects UK delays urea restrictions to support farmers as fertilizer costs at record high EU states agree to back carbon border tax Yara to develop novel green fertilizer from recycled nutrients USDA announces plans for $250m grant programme to support American-made fertilizer Canada seeks guidance to achieve fertilizer emissions target Fertilizer titan Pupuk Indonesia develops hydrogen/blue ammonia business India launches green hydrogen/ammonia policy, targets exports Canada AmmPower to develop green hydrogen and ammonia facility in Louisiana US DOE awards grant to project to recover rare earth elements from phosphate production Fertiglobe, Masdar, Engie to develop green hydrogen for ammonia production Czech Republic’s Spolana enhances granular AS production India’s Reliance to invest $80bn in green energy projects Yara, Sweden’s Lantmannen aim to commercialise green ammonia by 2023 Novatek and Uniper target Russia to Germany blue-ammonia supply chain Fertz giant Yara goes green with electrification of Norwegian factoryCanada Arianne Phosphate exploring use of phosphate for hydrogen technology FAO and IFA renew MoU to promote sustainable fertilizer use Sumitomo Chemical, Yara to explore clean ammonia collaboration Sri Lanka revokes ban on imports Tokyo scientists convert bioplastic into nitrogen fertilizer Aramco plans Saudi green hydrogen, ammonia project China announces action plan for carbon peaking & neutrality Saudi Aramco targets net zero emissions from operations by 2050 Fertiglobe goes green with Red Sea zero-carbon ammonia pro Australian fertilizer major Incitec Pivot teams up for green ammonia study INTERVIEW: BASF to scale up new decarbonisation tech in second half of decade – CEO India asks fertilizer companies to speed up production of nano DAP Japan's Itochu set to receive first cargo of blue ammonia for fertilizer use Norway's Yara acquires recycled fertilizers maker Ecolan Bayer Funds US start-up aims to cut nitrogen fertilizer use by 30% BP: Green ammonia production in Australia feasible, but needs huge investment Origin and MOL explore shipping green ammonia from Australia India’s IFFCO seeks to export nano urea fertilizer Sri Lanka reinstates ban on import of chemical fertilizers Nutrien to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030 RESOURCES IFA – Fertilizers and climate change  TFI – Sustainability report 

27-Mar-2024

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