Methyl methacrylate (MMA) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)

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Discover the factors influencing methyl methacrylate (MMA) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) markets

Methyl methacrylate (MMA) is a flammable liquid that can be used for paint, coatings, adhesives and medical applications. However, it is usually polymerised to make polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), a rigid transparent plastic originally manufactured in the early 1930s and widely known by its Perspex, Plexiglas and Lucite trade names.

Lightweight, stress-resistant, and able to withstand years of UV and weather exposure, PMMA is a common replacement for glass. It is also used for flat screen televisions, liquid crystal displays (LCDs), and optical fibres.

Historic oversupply led to declining prices and a failure to invest in production facilities. This means, despite its critical importance in consumer markets, MMA production can be affected by shut downs and aging technology. Production challenges, including routine maintenance, can lead to rapid price increases.

Ethylene-based MMA production is a rising technology, especially in markets where ethylene is more readily available and cheaper than other feedstocks. Raw materials prices are keenly watched by industry players to monitor costs.

ICIS MMA price assessments are the global industry benchmark. We provide coverage from Asia (including China), Europe and the US for contract and spot prices, closely examine supply and demand fundamentals and monitor the raw materials markets that directly affect MMA and PMMA costs.

The ICIS Live Disruption Tracker provides a global view of upcoming capacity, as well as scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.

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Methyl methacrylate (MMA) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) news

Automotive majors switch focus on EVs as consumers’ concerns remain – Chevron

RIO DE JANEIRO (ICIS)–In just a few years, global automotive majors have switched their focus from an all-electric production to a more hybrid model, an executive at US crude oil major Chevron said on Tuesday. Chris Castanien, global industry liaison at Chevron and lubricant additive expert, said that most automotive majors who had set up targets to go all-electric or nearly all-electric by 2030 have dropped those plans as intake among consumers remains slow. This has happened even after authorities in North America or Europe have poured “tremendous amounts of money in trying to force everyone” into the energy transition. Castanien was speaking to delegates at the 14th International Summit with the South American Market 2024 organized by specialized publication Lubes em Focus, which focuses on base oils. ICIS is a partner in the event. BILLIONS – BUT THE JUMP IS NOT HAPPENINGAnyone in the lubricants industry would be pleased to see the initially quick transition to electric mobility some authorities had planned is not happening. At the end of the day, they are an interested party which would lose out much if ICE engines – combustion engines – went out of the market. Therefore, Castanien was somehow pleased to list the many plans in the EU and the US which had planned for a quick electric vehicles (EVs) implementation, including the US’ $1 trillion New Green Deal in 2021 or the consequent $67 billion investments contemplated in the CHIPS Act or the $369 billion of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). “The US’ EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] had forced a ruling that by 2032 around two thirds of cars should be EVs; the EU issued a ban on ICE engines by 2035 – well, I think those targets will not happen,” said Catanien. “Moreover, now we are seeing a lot of protectionist tariffs against Chinese EVs: we want people to make and use EVs, but we don’t want the Chinese to make them.” The Chevron executive went on to say that the US is still a “long way” to meet its own targets on charging points, for instance, which, added to the considerably higher cost of EVs, would be putting off consumers. And this consumers’ reluctance, he went on to say, is even happening when many jurisdictions are implementing fiscal incentives and rebates for EVs. “In the US, you even get the case of California, where HOVs [high occupancy vehicle lanes] are now allowing EVs even if it’s only the driver inside the car…” he said. Thus, the initial change planned by automotive majors – even with thousands of redundancies of ICE engines engineers – is giving way to a slower implementation of the EV push. Castanien mentioned the case of Germany’s major Mercedes. “Only a few years ago, Mercedes said they would be making all vehicles electric by 2030 – they don’t say that anymore. Their updated target is aiming to make 50% of its fleet electrical by that year,” he said. “[US major] Ford has said it is losing $64,000 every time they sell an EV. Tesla was planning a gigafactory in Mexico: they have dropped those plans. The shift towards more hybrid vehicles and not purely EVs is happening – this is a big change.” The automotive industry is a major global consumer of petrochemicals, which make up more than one-third of the raw material costs of an average vehicle. The automotive sector drives demand for chemicals such as polypropylene (PP), along with nylon, polystyrene (PS), styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), polyurethane (PU), methyl methacrylate (MMA) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). Base oils, also called lubricants, are used to produce finished lubes and greases for automobiles and other machinery. The 14th International Summit with the South American Market 2024 runs in Rio de Janeiro on 2-3 July.

02-Jul-2024

PODCAST: China MMA supported by tight supply, demand recovery in H1 2024

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–In this podcast, ICIS editor Mason Liang discusses the China methyl methacrylate (MMA) market. Supply disruptions in key producing regions drive significant price increases amid strong demand Market participants closely monitor plant operations for the second half of 2024 Qixiang Tengda's planned July restart expected to boost activity in the Shandong market In light of this, ICIS launched the MMA DEL (delivered) Shandong assessment in April. Detailed methodology is available on the ICIS website.

24-Jun-2024

PODCAST: Glimmers of hope for Europe acetone and phenol derivative chain in a difficult climate; freight/logistics key

LONDON(ICIS)–European downstream demand remains low due to inflation and high interest rates. Add logistics issues and a continuous flow of imports to that, and the doom of European petrochemical industry begins. But with the recent reduction in interest rates by ECB and increased tariffs on Asian EVs, there is hope that the acetone and phenol derivative chain might come back to its glory. Europe ICIS editors Jane Gibson (acetone and phenol), Heidi Finch (bisphenol A and epoxy resins), Meeta Ramnani (polycarbonate), Mathew Jolin-Beech (methyl methacrylate) and ICIS senior analyst Michele Bossi (aromatics and derivatives) discuss the latest development in imports, bans and interest rates that are likely to impact the acetone, phenol and derivatives markets. Acetone market balanced to tight on export demand, slim import volumes and curtailed op rates as phenol struggles to find demand Cut of interest rates by ECB and tariffs on Chinese EVs increases hope of recovery of demand Dependency increases on Asian imports for PC BPA and epoxy players keep close eye on upstream, logistics and regulatory factors Challenging global as well as regional logistics impact MMA supply in Europe Podcast edited by Meeta Ramnani

14-Jun-2024

INSIGHT: China slams EU over EV tariffs; trade war brewing

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China has slammed EU’s proposal to impose provisional tariffs on imports of Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), denouncing it as a "blatant act of protectionism”, raising concerns that a trade war between Asia’s biggest economy and a new western front is brewing. EU tariffs on Chinese EVs to rise to 27-48% Retaliatory measures from China likely EU imports of China cars surge sevenfold over three years "The European side has disregarded facts and WTO [World Trade Organization] rules, ignored China's repeated strong opposition, and ignored the appeals and dissuasion of multiple EU member state governments and industries," China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement issued late on 12 June. The European Commission on 12 June notified Chinese automakers, including EV giant BYD, Geely, and state-owned SAIC Motor Corp, that it will impose additional provisional tariffs of 17% to 38% on imported Chinese EVs from around 4 July. These will be applied to existing 10% tariffs imposed on all Chinese EVs, with the final rate determined by each carmaker's level of cooperation with EU's anti-subsidy investigation launched in September last year. NEW FRONT FOR TIT-FOR-TAT TRADE WAR China’s commerce ministry has urged the EU to "immediately correct its wrong practices" and "properly handle trade frictions through dialogue and consultation". The ministry said it will "resolutely take all necessary measures to firmly defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies". "This move by the European side not only harms the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese electric vehicle industry but will also disrupt and distort the global automotive industry chain and supply chain, including the EU," it said. The EU's move follows the US' tariff hikes announced last month on Chinese imports of EVs, batteries and other materials, starting 1 August. In 2018, then US President Donald Trump initiated a trade war with China by imposing tariffs on Chinese imports to address alleged trade imbalances, intellectual property theft, and unfair trade practices. China retaliated with tariffs on US goods, escalating tensions between the two biggest economies in the world. While reviews by the US and EU on Chinese goods were under way, Beijing launched in May an anti-dumping investigation into imported polyoxymethylene (POM) copolymer, also known as polyformaldehyde copolymer – a key material in electronics and automotive manufacturing. China's commerce ministry alleged that the plastic is being sold below market value, harming domestic producers. The probe, targeting imports from the US, EU, Taiwan, and Japan, could last up to 18 months and is seen as a direct response to their recent trade barriers against Chinese goods. In the case of Taiwan, China has also suspended tariff concessions on 134 more products from the island, including base oil, chemicals, and chemical products, citing Taiwan’s supposed violations of the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with the mainland. Meanwhile, Japan’s tightened export controls on 23 types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment that took effect on July 2023 was deemed in line with restrictions imposed by the US and the Netherlands, potentially hindering China's access to advanced chipmaking technology. China may issue further retaliatory measures, potentially impacting global supply chains and escalating trade tensions with major economies in the west. The automotive industry is a major global consumer of petrochemicals that contributes more than one-third of the raw material costs of an average vehicle. The automotive sector drives demand for chemicals such as polypropylene (PP), along with nylon, polystyrene (PS), styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), polyurethane (PU), methyl methacrylate (MMA) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). CHINA 2023 CAR EXPORTS TO EU SURGE China’s exports of automobiles to the EU have surged over the past year, particularly in the battery electric vehicle (BEV) segment, according to Nomura Global Markets Research. Cars produced in China accounted for 20% of all BEV registrations in the EU during the first two months of 2024, it said, citing data from automotive business intelligence firm JATO Dynamics. An analysis of January-April 2024 sales figures from China’s top three EV manufacturers in the EU, however, suggests that their overall presence in the region is still nascent, Nomura noted. In 2023, EU’s imports of Chinese EVs surged to $11.5 billion, more than sevenfold increase from $1.6 billion in 2020, according to think thank Rhodium Group. China accounted for 37% of EU’s total EV imports last year, it said. In the first quarter of 2024, about 40% of China’s EV exports or 145,002 units went to Europe, according to official customs data. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman Thumbnail image: An electric car at a charging station near the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium. (Xinhua/Shutterstock)

13-Jun-2024

German auto industry opposes EU tariffs on EVs from China

LONDON (ICIS)–Germany’s auto industry is opposed to tariffs on electric vehicles (EVs) from China, trade group German Association of the Automotive Industry said on Wednesday. The group, known as VDA in its German acronym, was reacting to a European Commission proposal of tariffs on battery electric vehicles (BEVs) from China after an investigation concluded they benefited from unfair subsidies. VDA said the proposed tariffs were not the right tool to strengthen the competitiveness of Europe’s auto industry. Instead, the tariffs would further escalate the risk of trade conflicts, to the detriment of Germany’s automakers, it said. “The fact is that we need China to solve global problems,” in particularly in dealing with the climate crisis, it said. China played a crucial role in a successful transformation towards electromobility and digitalization, and a trade conflict would jeopardize this transformation, the group said. However, VDA added that the extent of the subsidies China grants EV makers was “a challenge” for Europe and it called on China to make “constructive proposals” to settle the dispute. Germany ranks first in Europe and second after China globally in terms of EV production, and the bulk of German EV production goes into export, according to VDA data released this week. Industry observers have noted that Germany-based EV production relies on imports of materials and batteries from China. The US last month announced tariff hikes on Chinese imports of EVs, batteries and other materials, starting 1 August. In related news, the business climate in Germany’s automotive industry deteriorated in May amid fears about impacts on German automakers from the conflict with China, according to a recent survey by Munich-based ifo research. The automotive industry is a major global consumer of petrochemicals that contributes more than one-third of the raw material costs of an average vehicle. The automotive sector drives demand for chemicals such as polypropylene (PP), along with nylon, polystyrene (PS), styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), polyurethane (PU), methyl methacrylate (MMA) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). Additional reporting by Graeme Paterson Please also visit the ICIS topic page Automotive: Impact on chemicals Thumbnail photo shows a Volkswagen EV; photo source: Volkswagen

12-Jun-2024

Automotive major Stellantis plants in Argentina, Brazil still affected by floods aftermath

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Stellantis’ facilities in Argentina remain shut and its plant in Goiana, northeast Brazil, has also partially stopped, a spokesperson for the global automotive major said to ICIS on Friday. In Argentina, Stellantis operates production facilities in Ferreyra, in the Cordoba province in the north, where trade with Rio do Grande do Sul is commonplace. The company said in mid-May those facilities had to shut due to the lack of inputs. On Friday, it added Goiana has now been affected too and it is partially out of operations. “Both plants in Argentina are still out of production. In Brazil, Goiana facilities has partially stopped,” the spokesperson said. Stellantis is the result of the merger between Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group. Germany’s automotive major Volkswagen stopped production at three plants in the state of Sao Paulo in mid-May due to the lack of inputs. The company had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. Rio Grande do Sul is Brazil’s southernmost state and petrochemicals-intensive automotive parts producers there are major suppliers to the rest of Brazil and Argentina. As of Friday, the emergency services in Rio Grande do Sul said 169 had died due to the floods, while 44 remains unaccounted for. Nearly 40,000 people are still taking refuge in shelters, while 580,000 remain displaced from their homes. Nearly 2.4 million have been affected by the floods. Earlier in May, a spokesperson for Brazil’s automotive trade group Anfavea did not respond to questions from ICIS about the impact of the floods on the sector's annual output. However, it said the trade group would publish its first estimates at a press conference on 6 June, when it will publish production, sales and export data for May. In early May, at the press conference presenting April data, the trade group said it feared the sector could be hit given Rio Grande do Sul's importance to Brazil's auto industry. The petrochemicals hub of Triunfo, near Porto Alegre, returned to operations on 20 May, led by Brazil’s polymers major Braskem, but a consultant in Porto Alegre said to ICIS the reopening there was the odd one out amid widespread disruption for most industrial sectors. As of Friday, the Port of Porto Alegre, the state’s largest city, remained shut, although Rio Grande and Pelotas ports were operating normally. The emergency services in Rio Grande do Sul said 169 had died due to the floods, while 44 remains unaccounted for. Nearly 40,000 people are still taking refuge in shelters, while 580,000 remain displaced from their homes. Nearly 2.4 million have been affected by the floods in the 12-million people state of Rio Grande do Sul. The automotive industry is a major global consumer of petrochemicals, and chemicals make up more than one-third of the raw material costs for an average vehicle. The automotive sector drives demand for chemicals such as polypropylene (PP), along with nylon, polystyrene (PS), styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), polyurethane (PU), methyl methacrylate (MMA) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), among others. Front page picture: Stellantis' facilities in Ferreyra, province of Cordoba, Argentina; archive image Source: Stellantis 

31-May-2024

DuPont flags $60 million in dis-synergies from break-up, assures on PFAS liabilities

HOUSTON (ICIS)–DuPont expects about $60 million in dis-synergies from its break-up into three independent publicly traded companies, CEO Ed Breen and CFO Lori Koch told analysts in a conference call on Thursday. The US specialty chemicals and materials company announced late on Wednesday that it plans to separate its electronics and water businesses into two publicly traded companies while the existing DuPont, dubbed “New DuPont”, will continue as a diversified industrial company. The dis-synergies were largely related to insurance, audit fees, leadership and boards, that is, “public company stand-up costs”, Koch said. The dis-synergies were “not a huge number” and would be across all three companies, she said. As for separation costs, those are estimated at $700 million, with the biggest cost items being IT separation and tax, legal and audit work, she said. DIVESTMENT NOT RULED OUT While DuPont is pursuing spin-offs and is not running a parallel M&A processes for electronics and water, it does not entirely rule out divesting them. “If somebody wants to call and propose something, we are going to listen to it,” Breen said in response to analysts' questions. He also said that the water business, which is relatively smaller, may be spun off before electronics. The timing for the separations is good as markets are coming out of destocking cycles, Breen noted. Especially in semiconductors, “we are going into a real upcycle”, he added. DuPont has been working on the separation for about six months and expects to complete it within the coming 18-24 months, he said. The relatively long completion timeline is mainly due to tax matters as DuPont intends to execute tax-free separations, he said. In some of the countries where DuPont operating, a separated business must be run for a full 12 months before it gets tax-free status, Breen said. New DuPont, with annual sales of $6.6 billion, and the electronic spin-off (sales: $4.0 billion), are expected to have investment-grade balance sheets whereas the smaller water business (sales: $1.5 billion), may not, Koch said. PFAS As for DuPont’s liabilities for poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), those will be allocated between the three companies pro rata, based on their earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in the last year before the spin-off, Breen said. The amount of PFAS liabilities may not be that large as DuPont expects to “make great progress” on settling claims by the time the spin-offs will be completed in 18-24 months, he said. BREEN’S NEW ROLE Breen will step down as CEO on 1 June, to be succeeded by Koch. However, he will continue as full-time executive chairman of DuPont’s board of directors, focusing on the separations, including the appointment of the spin-off companies’ boards and the hiring of their management teams. Breen would not rule out that he may join the boards of the electronics and water spin-offs but added that a decision has yet to be made. PROFILES OF THE THREE COMPANIES' MARKETS New DuPont, focused on healthcare, advanced mobility, and safety & protection: Electronics, focused on semi-conductors and interconnect solutions: Raw materials used by the electronic business include, among others, monomers, pigments and dyes, styrenic block copolymers, copper foil, filler alumina, nickel, silver, palladium, photoactive compounds, polyester and other polymer films, polyethylene (PE) resins, polyurethane (PU) resins, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) compounds and silicones, according to DuPont's website. Water, focused on reverse osmosis, ion exchange, and ultra filtration: Raw materials used by the water business include, among others, methyl methacrylate (MMA), styrene, polysulfone, high density polyethylene (HDPE), polyethylene (PE), aniline, calcium chloride, caustic and sulfuric acid, according to DuPont's website. DuPont's shares traded at $78.44/share, down 0.13%, at 11:00 local time on the New York Stock Exchange. With additional reporting by Al Greenwood Thumbnail photo source: DuPont

23-May-2024

Volkswagen, Stellantis idle car plants in Brazil, Argentina after floods

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Volkswagen (VW) idled its three plants in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo on Monday, as suppliers in the floods-hit state of Rio Grande do Sul are unable to produce any automotive parts, a spokesperson for the German automotive major told ICIS. At the same time, a spokesperson for Stellantis, another major auto producer, confirmed to ICIS that it had shut down its plant in Ferreyra, in Argentina’s Cordoba province, also due to a lack of input. Rio Grande do Sul is Brazil’s southernmost state and petrochemicals-intensive automotive parts producers there are major suppliers to the rest of Brazil and Argentina. However, the state is still reeling from severe flooding on 29 April which has brought around 90% of industrial activity to a standstill, according to local authorities. VOLKSWAGENVW is using a so-called “collective vacation” clause under Brazilian labor laws to send workers at its plants in Anchieta, Taubate, and Sao Carlos home for at least 10 days. However, a plant operated by VW in Sao Jose dos Pinhais, in the state of Parana, continues to operate normally, VW said. "Volkswagen do Brasil informs that continues with the same preventive vacation position. The situation of parts supply is being monitored minute by minute,” said the spokesperson. The workers at the Anchieta and Taubate plants will start a 10-day collective vacation on Monday, and the workers at the Sao Carlos plant will start an 11-day collective vacation on the same day. 'Collective vacation' is a measure regularly applied by industrial companies to manage production. Brazil’s labor laws normally grant employees around 30 days/year of annual leave. In the industrial sector, as work is a "collective" activity, vacation periods can be organized by the employer for a group of employees, hence the name. STELLANTISIn the meantime, Stellantis – the result of the merger between Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group – told ICIS that it is analyzing whether its other plants in Argentina and Brazil will also need to be shut down. In Cordoba, a province in north Argentina and a major trading partner with Rio Grande do Sul, there are fears that its economy – which is already suffering after the country went into recession – could take a further hit. In Argentina, Stellantis operates another plant in El Palomar, in the Buenos Aires department. In Brazil, its main facilities are in Betim in the state of Minas Gerais. “Stellantis is following with dismay and expresses its solidarity with the victims of the floods in Rio Grande do Sul. The unprecedented impact of the catastrophe has directly affected the logistics system for the transportation and supply of industry components. “The company had to stop production at the Stellantis Automotive Centers in Córdoba, Argentina, and is still analyzing the need for further stoppages at its plants in the region,” said the spokesperson. Both General Motors (GM) and South Korea's Hyundai – who also have production facilities in Brazil – had yet to respond to a request for a comment. A spokesperson for Brazil’s automotive trade group Anfavea did not respond to questions from ICIS about the impact of the floods on the sector's annual output. However, it did say that it would make its first estimates at a press conference on 6 June, when it will publish production, sales and export data for May. Earlier, the trade group said it feared the sector could be hit given Rio Grande do Sul's importance to Brazil's auto industry. INDUSTRY REELS AFTER FLOODSCompanies based in the petrochemicals hub of Triunfo, near Porto Alegre – the biggest city in Rio Grande do Sul – have also shut, mostly as employees are having problems getting to and from work. Companies including Braskem, Innova, and Arlanxeo all declared force majeure from Triunfo in the first week of May. Sources said some of them will try to restart operations this week, although that has not been officially confirmed to ICIS. The automotive industry is a major global consumer of petrochemicals, and chemicals make up more than one-third of the raw material costs for an average vehicle. The automotive sector drives demand for chemicals such as polypropylene (PP), along with nylon, polystyrene (PS), styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), polyurethane (PU), methyl methacrylate (MMA) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), among others. Front page picture: Volkswagen's plant in Anchieta, state of Sao Paulo Source: Volkswagen

20-May-2024

Asia top stories – weekly summary

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News Asia and the Middle East for the week ended 10 May 2024. PODCAST: APIC ‘24: Asia recycled plastics sees sustainable finance focus By Damini Dabholkar 10-May-24 12:22 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Sustainable finance is a key interest for companies seeking to enter the recycled plastics market in Asia or to expand their current capacities. Despite the various financial instruments available, the absence of a clear entry point often results in uncertainty for firms. In this podcast, ICIS analysts Chua Xin Nee and Joshua Tan explore the different types of sustainability-related loans available and their successful use cases. China-SE Asia arbitrage flow for MTBE unworkable on oil price falls By Keven Zhang 10-May-24 11:50 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The arbitrage of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) from China to southeast Asia can be reopened, after blenders in southeast Asia finish consuming their existing inventory. PODCAST: Weak demand expected for Asia propylene and downstream PO By Damini Dabholkar 09-May-24 15:02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia's propylene market will continue to see weak demand, although potential curbs in plant run rates in China amid weak margins could lend support. China exports return to growth in April amid signs of improving demand By Nurluqman Suratman 09-May-24 14:31 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s April exports rose by 1.5% year on year to $292.5 billion in April, reversing the 7.5% contraction in March supported by signs of improved global demand, customs data showed on Thursday. China petrochemical market edges up in Apr, demand outlook remains weak By Yvonne Shi 08-May-24 13:20 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s petrochemical market edged up in April, with the ICIS China Petrochemical Index – which tracks 17 key products in the domestic market – rising slightly by 1.60% to 1267.60 by the end of the month as compared with March. Singapore April manufacturing slows amid persistent external headwinds By Nurluqman Suratman 07-May-24 11:59 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore’s manufacturing activity fell in April as a result of decreased export orders triggered by external demand headwinds and high global interest rates. NE Asia C3 talks to kick off, but supply concerns weigh on buyers By Julia Tan 06-May-24 12:02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Discussions for June arrivals will kick off as China returns from the Labour Day holidays, even with the potential headwinds of poor downstream demand and ample supply from Southeast Asia.

13-May-2024

Brazil’s Indorama suspends operations at Triunfo, ports still closed, fertilizers demand to be hit

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Brazil’s state of Rio Grande do Sul remains at a standstill from the floods, with Thai petrochemicals major Indorama’s subsidiary in the country also suspending operations at its Triunfo facilities, a spokesperson confirmed to ICIS. Two main ports in Brazil’s southernmost state remain closed, while fertilizers players have said demand is likely to be hit on the back of a reduced planting season. A spokesperson for Indorama said the company had suspended operations at Triunfo on 3 May until further notice. Indorama's operations in Brazil are the result from its acquisition of Oxiteno and operates at Triunfo a methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) plant with a production capacity of 42,000 tonnes/year and a butene-2 plant with capacity at 42,000 tonnes/year, according to ICIS Supply & Demand. “Initially, we ensured that the emergency shutdown was carried out safely. Currently, we are carefully assessing the weather and logistical conditions, as well as the guidance from the relevant authorities, to determine the short, medium and long-term impacts [of the suspension],” said the Indorama spokesperson. Earlier in the week, Brazil’s polymers producer Braskem and styrenics producer Innova declared force majeure from its operations in Triunfo, as did styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) producer Arlanxeo. Official figures on Friday put the dead toll at 116, with more than 130 people still unaccounted for, while more than 100,000 remain displaced from their homes and nearly two million people in the 12-million-strong state are being affected by Brazil’s worst floods in nearly a century. To make matters worse, rains returned to Rio Grande do Sul by the latter part of the week, forcing authorities to suspend some rescue operations. Brazilians this week have kicked off a remarkable national mobilization to help alleviate the disruption gauchos – as citizens from Rio do Grande do Sul are known in Portuguese – are going through. From workplaces to residential buildings, from civil associations to companies, there is practically no place in the country where an effort to collect goods, food and money is not being deployed. PORTS CLOSED, AGRICULTURE HITThe Port Authority for Rio Grande do Sul, called Portos RS and which oversees operations at the Port of Rio Grande, Port of Pelotas and Port of Porto Alegre, said operations at the two latter facilities remain shut to traffic. The Port of Rio Grande is operating normally, it added. “[Portos RS] maintains operations at the Port of Porto Alegre suspended, due to the maintenance of the level of Lake Guaiba above the so-called flood level. At the Port of Pelotas, in the south of the state, the shipment of wood logs remains suspended and activities are paralyzed at the terminal,” the Authority said. “Regarding the crossing to Sao Jose do Norte [a city north of Porto Alegre], the vehicle and passenger transport service is suspended due to the high level of Laguna dos Patos.” This week, several fertilizers players said to ICIS demand is likely to be hit as planting for some crops which had just started is likely to be delayed, postpone, or cancelled. Moreover, seeds recently planted could also get damaged by high levels of moisture, potentially ruining their harvest. “There has been great damage to infrastructure in the state, with fertilizers mixers underwater and authorities still calculating the impacts,” said an urea trader. “The rice harvest is almost done, but wheat planting is in its early days and producers of urea believe demand destruction can happen due to the circumstances.” Another fertilizers source added that around 70% of soybeans in Rio Grande do Sul had already been harvested, but there is still 30% to be harvested which would now be at risk. It added that 30% would represent approximately 6.5 million tonnes of soybeans, or 5% of Brazil’s total production. Rio Grande do Sul is the main rice producer in Brazil, and the source said the harvest for that crop was already behind schedule when the rains started, with 78% harvested. “We estimate that the unharvested volume should significantly affect the supply of rice in Brazil, increasing the upward pressure on prices, “the source said. “Corn was also in the process of being harvested, with an estimated 83% harvested by the time the rains started. It is not possible yet to estimate precisely how much of this amount at risk has been lost.” Front page picture: Voluntaries working in Rio Grande do Sul organizing donations Source: Government of Rio Grande do Sul Additional reporting by Bruno Menini, Deepika Thapliyal and Chris Vlachopoulos

10-May-2024

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