Polyethylene (PE)

Understanding the world’s most widely used plastic

Discover the factors influencing polyethylene (PE) markets

From the packaging on our food to the paints in our homes, polyethylene (PE) surrounds us as by far the largest commodity plastic by overall volume. It is essential to our daily lives. With countless applications in everyday materials, it is crucial for anyone with an active interest in the market to understand what is driving PE markets. Adapting efficiently to the significant changes in how it is being produced and consumed around the world is key.

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Polyethylene (PE) news

Brazil’s Braskem restarts Triunfo facilities after flooding

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Braskem has restarted its facilities at the Triunfo petrochemicals hub in the floods-hit state of Rio Grande do Sul, a spokesperson for the Brazilian polymers major said to ICIS on Monday. Braskem said it hopes to have all facilities up and running normally in 15 days. Triunfo represents around 30% of Braskem’s production capacities in Brazil. The company said the restart will be undertaken by phases, as long as weather and access to the site allows. While most petrochemicals plants at Triunfo were not damaged by the flooding, access of workers as well as inputs into the plants was very difficult as the floods blocked several roads in the state. Braskem and other chemical companies at Triunfo declared force majeure at the beginning of May. “In recent days, our teams have been focused on seeking safe conditions to resume production and, thus, contribute more actively to the supply of raw materials for the production of important items for this time of need,” said Braskem’s industrial director, Nelzo da Silva. “To start up the plants, it will be necessary to activate the flare, a standard safety device used by the chemical and petrochemical industries. As part of this process… in the coming days, residents in the area may notice a different light than usual coming from our factories.” Braskem is Brazil’s sole manufacturer of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), the most widely used polymers. Its market share in 2023 for PE stood at 56% and for PP at 70%, according to figures from the ICIS Supply and Demand Database. The Triunfo complex, meanwhile, is key for the country’s polymers supply chain, accounting for nearly 37% of Brazil’s PP capacity and 40% of PE capacity. Brazil’s PP production capacity is nearly 2 million tonnes/year. PE capacity is about 3 million tonnes/year, with 41% being high density polyethylene (HDPE), 33% being linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and 26% being low density polyethylene (LDPE). Braskem’s Triunfo complex can produce 740,000 tonnes/year of PP, 550,000 tonnes/year of HDPE, 385,000 tonnes/year of LDPE and 300,000 tonnes/year of LLDPE. Front page picture: Braskem's facilities in Triunfo Source: Braskem Additional reporting by Bruno Menini

20-May-2024

Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 17 May. Europe PET/PTA industry on high alert as freight costs soar Another shock to the logistics system is rippling through the European polyethylene terephthalate (PET) value chain but the impact is only so far just touching the surface. Europe oxo-alcohol spot prices face pressure from growing supply Prices in the European oxo-alcohols spot market were stable to lower this week as there is now plenty supply of all grades. IEA cuts 2024 crude forecast as OECD Q1 demand slips into contraction The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Wednesday cut its expectations for global crude oil demand growth as demand from the OECD shifted into contraction territory in Q1 and as refinery margins continued to slump into the spring period. Non-OPEC+ crude supply growth to slip in 2025, Latin America to drive non-OECD output – OPEC Increases in crude oil supplies from outside the OPEC+ bloc of countries is expected to decline slightly year on year in 2025, with the US and Canada expected to remain the backbone of OECD production increases and Latin America driving the rest of the world, according to OPEC. IPEX: Global spot IPEX slips as decline in Asia offsets gains in other regions, crude The global spot ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) slipped 0.1%, as a fall in the northeast Asia index failed to offset gains in other regions and a rise in crude oil prices.

20-May-2024

LOGISTICS: Container rates continue to surge, liquid chem tanker rates mostly lower

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Average global rates for shipping containers continue to surge, liquid chemical tanker rates ex-US Gulf were mostly softer, and work continues to reopen the Port of Baltimore, highlighting this week’s logistics roundup. CONTAINER RATES Rates for shipping containers surged by double digits again this week on unexpected demand and tight capacity stemming from Red Sea diversions. Average global rates surged by 11% 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 are up by almost 33% from early-February and rates from Shanghai to the East Coast are more than 30% higher over that period, as shown in the following chart. Drewry expects ex-China freight rates to rise due to increased demand, tight capacity, and the need to reposition empty containers. Emily Stausbøll, senior shipping analyst at ocean and freight rate analytics firm Xeneta, said the speed of the increases is causing nervousness in the market. “Demand reached record levels in Q1 2024, up by 9.2% compared to Q1 2023, and comes at a time when the Red Sea situation is putting increased pressure on shipping capacity,” she said. “But significantly, this is all taking place while the chaos of port congestion and lack of available capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic is still fresh in the memory of shippers.” “Lessons will have been learned from the pandemic. If shippers fear there is going to be a squeeze on capacity during the peak season in Q3 then they are going to start importing more goods now,” Stausbøll said. “If these increased volumes need to be moved on the spot market, then it is going to put upwards pressure on rates." 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 TANKER RATES US chemical tanker freight rates assessed by ICIS were mostly lower as rates fell from the US Gulf (USG) to Asia and from the USG to India. However, rates ticked slightly higher for smaller parcels from the USG to Caribbean and surged from the USG to Brazil. From the USG to Rotterdam, it has remained quiet again this week, with available space for part cargo still open. COA volumes have been heavy for owners; however, spot inquiries have been quiet. Due to the available space and softness, this could place further downward pressure on this trade lane. From the USG to the Caribbean, the market has remained higher with very little prompt space available. Owners have pushed to keep freight rates mostly steady; however, there is currently a lack of activity from out of the USG. From the USG to Asia, this market has remained overall soft after a long holiday week in Japan. BALTIMORE, HOUSTON BRIDGE COLLISIONS Traffic in and out of the Houston Ship Channel was not affected after a barge struck a bridge connecting Galveston and Pelican islands on Wednesday morning. JJ Plunkett of the Houston Pilots said the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) was closed, which could slow movement of barges moving finished product from plants along the channel. Ships enter the channel by passing between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula and then move through Galveston Bay before reaching the main section of the channel where refineries, chemical plants and storage facilities are located. The barge collided with a bridge that connects Galveston Island to Pelican Island, located well to the west of where commercial vessels enter and exit Galveston Bay. Meanwhile at the Port of Baltimore, the container ship that essentially closed the port on 26 March after it struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing its collapse, is set to be moved now that the mangled remnants of the span were removed from the ship’s bow with controlled blasts on 13 May. Officials continued to evaluate the situation on Friday in preparation for refloating the vessel and clearing the federal channel. Officials have evaluated sonar and lidar imagery but are awaiting results from a dive survey before proceeding with plans to refloat and move the vessel. 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. PANAMA CANAL Wait times for non-booked southbound vessels ready for transit surged this week while wait times for northbound vessels edged higher, according to the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) vessel tracker and as shown in the following image. Wait times a week ago were 2.6 days for northbound vessels and 2.4 days for southbound vessels. Additional reporting by Kevin Callahan

17-May-2024

VIDEO: UK C flake prices rise but wider market enters stable period

LONDON (ICIS)–Senior editor for recycling, Matt Tudball, discusses the latest developments in the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market, including: UK colourless flake prices rise for May Eastern Europe blue bale, colourless flake prices down Wider market entering a more stable period for now

17-May-2024

India’s GAIL to set up C2/C3 pipeline for Pata petrochemical complex

MUMBAI (ICIS)–State-owned GAIL (India) Ltd plans to lay an ethylene/propylene (C2/C3) liquid pipeline from its gas processing complex at Vijaipur in the central Madhya Pradesh state to its Pata petrochemical complex at Auraiya in the northern Uttar Pradesh state. “The project will augment feedstock availability with additional polymer production at Pata Petrochemical Complex, reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint,” the company said in the notes accompanying its fiscal Q4 results. GAIL’s financial year ends in March. The proposed project is expected to cost Indian rupees (Rs) 17.9bn ($215m) and will be commissioned within 32 months, it said. Once operational, the pipeline will have the capacity to transport 950,000 tonnes/year of liquid feedstock to the Pata complex, it added. GAIL reported on 16 May a near-fourfold jump in net profit for the fourth quarter ending 31 March 2024 to Rs21.8bn, from Rs6.0bn in the same period last year. For the full fiscal year 2023-24, GAIL’s net profit increased by 67% year on year to Rs88.4bn. “The robust performance during the year was primarily driven by better physical performance across all major segments, despite lower prices in petrochemicals and liquid hydrocarbons,” GAIL managing director and chairman Sandeep Gupta said. GAIL currently operates a 200,000 tonne/year high density polyethylene (HDPE) plant; two linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE)/HDPE swing plants with capacities of 230,000 tonnes/year and 400,000 tonnes/year; and a 10,000 tonne/year butene-1 line at its Pata complex. The company is also setting up a 60,000 tonne/year polypropylene (PP) unit at the complex which is expected to come on stream in the current calendar year 2024. ($1 = Rs83.45)

17-May-2024

INSIGHT: Q1 2024 US imports of plastic scrap remain strong on cost savings opportunities

HOUSTON (ICIS)–US plastic scrap trade continues to show robust import activity amid flat export volumes in the first quarter. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic scrap in particular continues to see strong growth in import and export volumes despite domestic recyclers citing only moderate-to-weak demand. This is likely due to the wide window of arbitrage for recycled flake and pellet resin into the US. On the other hand, US PET bale prices have minimally improved following last year's market crash, creating export opportunities to other global destinations. US remains a net importer of plastic scrap US PET scrap imported increased 88% Q1 2024 vs Q1 2023 US PET scrap exported increased 33% Q1 2024 vs Q4 2023 Q1 2024 trade data from the US Census Bureau shows US imports of plastic scrap – noted by the HS code 3915 – remain strong, having dropped only 2% quarter on quarter, but having jumped 38% year on year when comparing with Q1 2023. Exports on the other hand were nearly identical quarter on quarter, having leveled off over the last several quarters around 100,000 tonnes. US plastic scrap imports totaled 127,176 tonnes in Q1 2024, marking it the strongest first quarter in the last 10 years, and only the second strongest quarter ever, following Q4 of last year. Plastic scrap imports include items such as used bottles, but also other forms of recycled feedstock such as purge, leftover pairings and now also flake material. PET SCRAP IMPORTS CONTINUE RECORD PACEPET in particular continued to see growth in imported scrap volumes, increasing 88% year on year. PET scrap now constitutes nearly 50% of all US imported plastic scrap, followed by the "other" plastic scrap category at 29% and polyethylene (PE) scrap at 14%. Overall plastic scrap imports from Mexico continued to drop, down both year on year and quarter on quarter, largely driven by declines in PET scrap imports. Canada on the other hand increased year on year but declined quarter on quarter with the broader volume trend. Together, plastic scrap coming from Canada and Mexico continues to constitute nearly half (46%) of US plastic scrap imports. Material from Thailand comes in as the third largest region for US plastic scrap imports at 7% of the total volume. When considering just PET scrap, Thailand continued their strong growth trajectory with nearly identical volumes to Q4 2023. US PET scrap imports from Thailand in Q1 2024 increased 82% year on year. Despite this growth, Canada still sends the largest volume of PET scrap to the US at 11,960 tonnes in Q1 2024. When considering other countries, PET imports from Asian-based countries now makes up over 40% of the total PET scrap import volume, passing up Canada and Mexico at a combined 21%. Market participants confirm they have seen a notable rise in imported recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) activity from Asia and Latin America, particularly due to their cost-competitive position when it comes to feedstock, labor and facility costs in light of cheaper ocean freight rates. Though, other regions may not always be in a cost-competitive position, as most recently seen in South American countries like Peru and Colombia, where local bale prices have increased significantly, while US feedstock prices remain relatively stable. Supporting the increase in imported scrap plastic, US recyclers who continue to have strong order volumes were heard to be supplementing their operations with imported feedstock. Several recyclers now purchase low-cost spot or imported R-PET flake to process into their food-grade pellet product and redirect their internally produced flake from high-cost domestic bale feedstock to sell directly to customers. This in turn has alleviated pressure from US PET bales, thus enabling price stability for pellet material which is formulated to US bale feedstock costs. In the long term, the US will seek imports of bale or flake feedstock not just due to the cost driver but to feed growing plastic recycling capacities amid stagnant plastic collection rates domestically. PET SCRAP EXPORTS TO MEXICO ACCELERATEUnlike many other polymer types which continue to see declining volumes following the Chinese National Sword and Basel Convention adoption several years ago, exports of PET scrap have increased, as many global regions with growing R-PET capacities see a cost-play opportunity. PET scrap exports, which could include PET bales, rose 33% quarter on quarter and 21% year on year, coming in at 21,662 tonnes in Q1 2024. Specifically, exported PET scrap to Mexico increased 38% year on year, making up 61% of all US PET scrap exports. At present, aggressive buying activity from Mexican recyclers continues to drive up West Coast PET bale prices. Exports to Mexico have always made up a small portion of US PET bale sales from southern California or states like Texas, though the current activity has been notably strong. PE SCRAP TRADE REMAINS ROBUSTPE continues to be a leading polymer type for US plastic scrap exports, coming in at 35,359 tonnes in Q1 2024. Of that volume, India is the largest destination at 25%, followed by Malaysia and Canada tied at 16%. On the other hand, PE scrap imports show mixed trends. While Canada and Mexico continue to make up nearly 75% of imported PE scrap volumes, US imports from Mexico increased 24% quarter on quarter. On the other hand, imports from Canada decreased 40% quarter on quarter. This time last year, India did not export any PE scrap to the US, and now is the third largest per Q1 data.

14-May-2024

Brazil’s floods-hit state plastics sector under ‘hypothesis’ operations could normalize end May – trade group

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Plastics producers in Rio Grande do Sul remain shut following the floods but are working under the “hypothesis” operations could normalize by the end of May, a full month after the floods hit the Brazilian state, trade group Abiplast said. As such, they have made calculations for losses in revenue during a month, since 29 April when the floods started until the end of May. According to the trade group, the estimated impact on plastics producers in the state could come up to Brazilian reais (R) 680 million ($132 million), or an estimated daily impact of R$23 million since the floods started on 29 April. Rio Grande do Sul and its petrochemicals hub in Triunfo, near the city of Porto Alegre, is home to 40% of Brazil’s polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) production capacities. Despite the end of May hypothesis, a spokesperson for the trade group conceded that as things stand – with hundreds of roads still blocked and workers unable to turn up for duty – to set a date for restart of operations would be premature, however. “Plastics transformers’ plant have stopped …The [estimated costs would include the] costs of potential renovations and recovery of assets in the areas degraded,” said Abiplast. “The main plastic products could also suffer price increases if there is an increase [in selling prices] by manufacturers.” Several petrochemicals companies based at the Triunfo production hub, near the state’s largest city of Porto Alegre, declared force majeure last week, including Brazil’s polymers major Braskem, Innova and Arlanxeo. Thai major Indorama’s subsidiary in Brazil said to ICIS it had suspended operations. Meanwhile, fertilizers players have said to ICIS demand could be hit considering the state’s prowess within Brazil’s large agricultural sector. Analysts at S&P Global have also said fertilizers could be greatly hit, although they said petrochemicals could be spare from a large impact if the situation normalizes in coming days or weeks, at most. TRIUNFO: KEY TO PLASTICSAccording to figures by Abiplast, Triunfo has production capacities of 740,000 tonnes/year for PP, and of 1.2 million tonnes/year for PE, with a large chunk of that belonging to Braskem, for whom the Triunfo facilities represent 30% of its production capacity in Brazil. Braskem is the sole manufacturer of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). Its market shares in 2023 were about 56% and 70%, respectively, according to figures from the ICIS Supply and Demand Database. Brazil’s PP capacity is nearly 2 million tonnes/year, while PE capacity is about 3 million tonnes/year, of which 41% is high density polyethylene (HDPE), 33% is linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and 26% is low density polyethylene (LDPE). The Triunfo complex can produce 740,000 tonnes/year of PP, 550,000 tonnes/year of HDPE, 385,000 tonnes/year of LDPE and 300,000 tonnes/year of LLDPE. The company said last week it was confident it will be able to deliver material from its other sites in the country, but sources have pointed out some of the specialized PE grades are only produced at Triunfo, and feared a hit to supply and increasing prices if the disruption in Rio Grande do Sul prolongs. According to Abiplast, there are 1,428 plastic processing and recycling companies in Rio Grande do Sul, the second largest state in Brazil in number of plastic processing companies, behind Sao Paulo’s 5,200 companies. The state’s plastics sector employs 33,100, added the trade group. Their sales in 2023 stood at R8.2 billion, or 7.1% of the total revenue posted by Brazilian plastics processing industry of R117 billion. The tragedy has consumed the Brazilian government since the second week of the floods – after a rather slow response during the first days. Some analysts have described this as Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s ‘Katrina moment’ as a reference to the poor handling of the Hurricane Katrina in the US in 2005 by former President George W Bush. Additional reporting by Bruno Menini Front page picture: A sign in Sao Paulo calling residents to collaborate in the floods relief effort Source: Jonathan Lopez/ICIS 

14-May-2024

NPE '24: INSIGHT: Big themes at NPE include sustainability, EVs, toxicity rules

HOUSTON (ICIS)–The biggest plastics trade show in the Western Hemisphere returned last week after a six-year hiatus. Delegates returned to consider an industry that is increasingly being shaped by government policy which is favoring sustainability and electric vehicles (EVs) while restricting the use of some classes of chemicals that are used in processing aids. SUSTAINABLE CONTENTThe regulatory outlook is influencing companies' sustainability goals, and that is influencing which plastics they buy and which ones are made by producers. Sustainability was the most prominent theme at the show. The title of the keynote address given by BASF Corp CEO Mike Heinz was "Our Plastics Journey: The Road to Shaping a Sustainable Future". Other examples of sustainability at the show include the following: Executives from SABIC and NOVA Chemicals talked at lengths about what their companies are doing to incorporate more recycled content into their materials. Renewable plastics producers CJ CheilJedang and Danimer Scientific had booths showcasing their grades of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), a renewable polyester. GREENMANTRA showcased its chemical recycling technology, which breaks down plastics to produce waxes, which are then then uses to make additives that make it easier to incorporate waste plastic into finished products. If the exhibitor booths and keynote address weren't enough to drive home the prominence of sustainability, delegates only had to consider the recent round of talks for the UN plastic waste treaty. It was held just days before NPE. While the plastics industry is advocating curbs on pollution, several groups at the talks were pushing for curbs on production. US lawmakers have repeatedly introduced bills that would impose moratoria on new plants. A small number of US states are adopting mandates that require minimum amounts of recycled content. A few states are also adopting policies calling for extended producer responsibility (EPR). The outlook of regulations is causing consumer goods producers and other plastic consumers to start seeking out sustainable materials now, so they have time to rearrange their supply chains and so prepare for the anticipated regulations. POLICIES PROMOTING EVS, LIGHTWEIGHTINGGovernment support should rekindle sales of EV and pull them out of what could be a temporary lull, according to BASF. The world will need more EVs if it wants to achieve its carbon-cutting goals. In the US, the federal government and individual states are adopting and proposing policies that will promote EV adoption. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced a new tailpipe rule that will require the US light vehicle fleet to emit progressively smaller amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). The EPA is expected to decide if California can adopt its Advanced Clean Car II (ACC II), which would phase out the sale of ICE-based vehicles by 2035. If the EPA grants California's request, that would trigger similar programs in several other states. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing stricter efficiency standards under its Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program. EVs have material challenges that are different from automobiles powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs), and these are increasing demand for new grades of plastics. Some plastics will need to tolerate higher voltage environments, while others will need good thermal management properties. BASF and other companies at NPE showcased how several of their materials were meeting these challenges. At the same time, auto companies will want materials that will lighten their vehicles so they can travel farther on a battery charge. ICE automakers also want to lighten their vehicles, in part to comply with stricter emission requirements. Longer term, Dow highlighted the revolutionary ramifications that autonomous vehicles will have on the plastic industry. Such vehicles are driven almost entirely by machines, which should greatly reduce crashes and accidents. Dow said automakers could replace nearly all steel and aluminum paneling used in automobiles with plastic alternatives. SUBSTANCES OF CONCERNDow and Clariant highlighted the ramifications of substances of concern, so called because regulators are concerned about their effects on safety. The latest such substance include per- and poly fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), which are used in many polymer processing aids (PPAs). Clariant has recently introduced a hydrocarbon-based processing aid. Longer term are the possible ramifications of the prioritization process that the EPA has started on five chemicals. The regulator would like to start the prioritization process on five additional chemicals each year. The prioritization process is the first step in determining whether a chemical poses an unreasonable risk. If the EPA makes such a finding, then it will proceed with the risk management phase, in which it will propose ways to manage the unreasonable risks. If the chemicals are used in plastics, then any subsequent restrictions could cause companies to find alternative materials. EXCESS PLASTICS CAPACITYExcess plastic capacity will likely persist even as destocking ends and demand recovers. NOVA Chemicals expects future expansion will be on pause until later in the decade. Lost cost regions like North America should suffer less than higher cost regions like Europe. SABIC recently started up its first ethylene and PE production in the US through its joint venture with ExxonMobil, while announcing plans to shut down a cracker in Europe. The company did not rule out further capacity rationalizations Produced by Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), NPE: The Plastics Show took place 6-10 May in Orlando, Florida. Insight by Al Greenwood Thumbnail shows cups made out of plastic. Image by Shutterstock.

14-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

VIDEO: Europe R-PET market entering more stable period mid-month

LONDON (ICIS)–Senior Editor for Recycling, Matt Tudball, discusses the latest developments in the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market, including: FD NWE Colourless flake market entering more stable period during May UK flake prices still under upward pressure Demand outlook still hard to predict

10-May-2024

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