Engineering plastics (POM, PBT)

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Discover the factors influencing engineering plastics (POM, PBT) markets

Production and trade of both polyacetal (POM) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) is active across Asia and Europe. These are engineered thermoplastics used in high volumes in the automotive sector as well as for a range of manufactured household products such as showerheads and irons. As a result, POM and PBT prices and market activity is sensitive to fluctuations in consumer demand from downstream markets.

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Engineering plastics (POM, PBT) news

VIDEO: Europe R-PET pellet price range narrows on SUPD-driven demand

LONDON (ICIS)–Senior Editor for Recycling, Matt Tudball, discusses the latest developments in the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market, including, Colourless flake prices rise in Italy Food-grade pellet (FGP) price range narrows on improved demand FGP proactive buyers move to secure volumes ahead of Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) implementation in January

12-Jul-2024

Houston, Freeport ports remain closed as millions lack power after Beryl

HOUSTON (ICIS)–The ports of Houston and Freeport in Texas remain mostly closed on Tuesday while millions remain without power following Hurricane Beryl's landfall at the start of the week. Port Houston said all of its terminals will remain closed on Tuesday. Port Freeport said the Freeport Harbor Channel is closed. Gates 4 and 14 are closed, while Gate 8 is opened. Freeport LNG Development had shut down its LNG operations at Freeport on July 7. It can export 15 million tonnes/year. Loadings for LNG tankers slowed considerably on 8 July due to rough seas and suspension of pilot services at Calcasieu Pass and Sabine Pass. Both are in Louisiana. The port of Corpus Christi is scheduled to reopen on Tuesday. It is the third largest oil-exporting port in the world, and it is home to Corpus Christi Liquefaction, a terminal that can export 15 million tonnes/year of liquefied natural gas (LNG). MILLIONS REMAIN WITHOUT POWERBeryl made landfall on Sunday in Matagorda, Texas, as a Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained windspeeds of 80 miles/hour (130 km/hour). So far, much of its effect on chemical operations has been by interrupting power. On late Tuesday morning, Texas reported more than 2.82 million outages, according to the website poweroutage.us, which keeps track of power outages in the US. CenterPoint Energy, the main electrical transmission and distribution company in Houston, said more than 1.76 million customers remain affected by outages. Entergy, the main one for eastern Texas, said on Monday evening that 247,000 customers remained without power. Texas-New Mexico Power, which handles the areas around Freeport and Galveston said it 73,220 customers are affected by outages. BERYL CAUSED SOME CHEM SHUTDOWNSElectrical outages and precautions had caused some chemical companies and refiners to shut down units. Enterprise Products said bad weather caused a trip to a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit in Mont Belvieu, Texas. Marathon Petroleum reported power loss and multiple unit shutdowns at its Galveston Bay refinery. Dow shut down its operations in Seadrift, Texas, as a precaution. In Baytown, ExxonMobil said it is continuing to assess the site for possible damage as it resumes normal operations. The company anticipated minimal impact to production. Formosa Plastics shut down its Olefins 1 unit at Port Comfort, Texas. Interoceanic Corporation (IOC) said its affiliate, PCI Nitrogen, has halted ammonium sulphate (AS) and sulphuric acid production at its facility in Pasadena, Texas. Phillips 66 reported an upset at its refinery in Sweeney, Texas. The refiner did not say if it shut down any unit. Personnel had returned it to normal operations. CITGO reduced operating rates at its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. BASF Total Petrochemical's cracker in Port Arthur, Texas, produced off-spec material because of a suspected lightning strike. LIMITED RAIL DISRUPTIONSOn Monday, BNSF said its Pearland intermodal facility in Houston remained closed.  WEATHER FORECASTIn the late morning, Beryl had degraded into a post tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 30 miles/hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was in the northeastern part of the US state of Arkansas, and meteorologists expected it would continue traveling in that direction towards Canada. Thumbnail shows flooding caused by Beryl. Image by Reginald Mathalone/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

09-Jul-2024

PODCAST: Asia recycling market sees increased interest in pyrolysis

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Market players in Asia are increasingly becoming more interested in the use of pyrolysis oil as fuel. This was one of the critical insights gained by the ICIS recycling analyst team when they were at the Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) 2024 in Seoul, South Korea, in May and the 2024 China Plastics Circularity Economy CEO Roundtable in Beijing, China, in June. Join recycling analysts Joshua Tan and Chua Xin Nee in this podcast as they discuss their key takeaways from both events and take a deeper dive into the recycling landscape in China. For more information about Asia’s recycling market, please contact joshua.tan@icis.com and xinnee.chua@icis.com.

09-Jul-2024

VIDEO: UK, eastern Europe C R-PET flake range narrows, Italian bale prices rise

LONDON (ICIS)–Senior editor for recycling Matt Tudball discusses the latest developments in the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market, including: Rises on the low end of colourless flake narrows UK, eastern Europe ranges Colourless, blue bale prices rise in Italian monthly auctions Increased bale supply, tighter PET, cheaper R-PET imports

05-Jul-2024

Four Asia chemical majors in consortium to build green polyester supply chain

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–A consortium consisting of four Asian petrochemical producers have agreed to establish a sustainable polyester fiber supply chain. Japan's Mitsubishi Corp, South Korea’s SK geo centric, Thailand’s Indorama Ventures Ltd (IVL), and India Glycols along with three other companies are part of the consortium, the companies said in a joint statement on Thursday. Japanese sports apparel firm Goldwin is the project owner of the initiative, while Finnish refiner Neste is also part of the consortium alongside Japan-based engineering firm Chiyoda Corp. Financial details of the project were not disclosed. The project aims to utilize renewable and bio-based materials as well as materials produced via carbon capture and utilization (CCU) to manufacture polyester fibers for THE NORTH FACE brand in Japan. Outdoor apparel and equipment brand THE NORTH FACE is operated by Goldwin in Japan. "After that, the launch of further products and brands of Goldwin will be considered," Chiyoda said in the statement. The polyester fiber produced from the project is planned to be used by Goldwin for a part of THE NORTH FACE products, including sports uniforms in July this year. Chiyoda will supply CCU-based paraxylene (PX) to the supply chain, while Thai polyester producer IVL will contribute renewable CCU-based purified terephthalic acid (PTA). In March 2022, Chiyoda started producing carbon dioxide (CO2)-based PX at its pilot plant at the company's Koyasu Research Park in Kanagawa prefecture as part of a project linked with Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NED). SK geo centric and Neste will be supplying renewable PX and renewable naphtha, respectively. India Glycols, which produces monoethylene glycol (MEG), will supply bio-ethylene glycol made mainly from sugarcane. Toyobo MC Corporation (TMC) – a joint venture between Toyobo Co and Mitsubishi Corp – will be supplying renewable bio-CCU polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Details on supply volumes from each of the consortium partners were not disclosed. Thumbnail photo: A generic polyester clothing label (Sandvik/imageBROKER/Shutterstock)

04-Jul-2024

Brazil’s Braskem still facing logistical woes at Triunfo facilities

RIO DE JANEIRO (ICIS)–Brazil’s polymers major Braskem is still facing some logistical challenges at its facilities in Triunfo, in the floods-hit state of Rio Grande do Sul, according to a letter to customers seen by ICIS. Braskem was forced to shut down its Triunfo facilities after the severe flooding which affected the state in May. By the beginning of June, the producer said it hoped its operations would return to normality in a few days, according to a spokesperson in a written response to ICIS. However, according to the letter to customers, dated 28 June, Braskem’s operations at Triunfo are yet to return to normality, mostly due to logistical woes as many roads and key port operations at the Brazilian state were hit by the aftermath of the floods. “Specific challenges resulting from force majeure still persist in some logistics modes, leading to the partial receipt of inputs for the production of products derived from ethanol and green ethylene,” said the letter. “At the moment, there is no risk of interruption in the supply of these products, and we are implementing alternatives to return availability to normal levels.” At the end of June, an analyst said to ICIS most of the roads in Rio do Grande do Sul had reopened, although some of them were operating at reduced capacity. The Port of Porto Alegre, the largest city in the state and close to the Triunfo petrochemicals hub, only reopened in mid-June. TRIUNFO KEY FOR PLASTICS 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 & 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 total 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. Additional reporting by Jonathan Lopez 

03-Jul-2024

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

US manufacturing remains in contraction but chemicals healthy

RIO DE JANEIRO (ICIS)–US manufacturing activity remained in contraction territory in June but output in the chemicals sector was healthy on the back of healthy new orders, the Institute of Supply Management’s (ISM's) purchasing managers’ index (PMI) survey showed on Monday. The PMI stood at 48.5% in June, down from 48.7 points in May. The contraction in June was the third consecutive monthly one, and the 19th in the last 20 months. Chemicals, however, posted healthy activity with one chemicals player reporting in the ISM survey “high volumes of customer orders”. In plastics and rubber, a respondent described increased orders on the back of seasonal restocking, but the sector overall remained in contraction territory. “Demand was weak again, output declined and inputs stayed accommodative. Demand slowing was reflected by the New Orders Index improving to marginal contraction, New Export Orders Index returning to contraction, Backlog of Orders Index dropping into stronger contraction territory and Customers’ Inventories Index moving into the low side of the ‘just right’ range, neutral for future production,” said Timothy R Fiore, chair of the ISM’s committee compiling the PMI index. “Output (measured by the Production and Employment indexes) declined compared to May, with a combined 3.5-percentage point downward impact on the Manufacturing PMI calculation. Panelists’ companies reduced production levels month over month as head count reductions continued in June.” According to ISM, eight manufacturing industries reported growth in June: printing and related support activities; petroleum and coal products; primary metals; furniture and related products; paper products; chemical products; miscellaneous manufacturing; and nonmetallic mineral products. Nine industries reported contraction: textile mills; machinery; fabricated metal products; wood products; transportation equipment; plastics and rubber products; food, beverage and tobacco products; electrical equipment, appliances and components; and computer and electronic Products. ICIS VIEWKevin Swift, economist at ICIS, highlighted how both new orders and order backlogs fell compared with May. “The reading came below expectations of improvement. The expansionary reading in March ended 16 months of contraction in manufacturing but since then, the trend has been soft. June marks a third contractionary reading and was disappointing… The chemical industry gained for the sixth month after 16 months of decline.” “New orders and order backlogs, when combined with the reading on inventories, are good indicators of future activity. Inventories contracted at faster pace as well. An uptick in orders could translate into higher production.” Earlier on Monday, analysts at S&P Global said manufacturing in Brazil – the Americas’ second largest economy – had recovered slightly from floods-hit May, although some economic challenges such as the depreciation of the Brazilian real were putting a cap on growth prospects, they added. US MANUFACTURING June 2024 Index Series Index Jun Series Index May Percentage Point Change Direction Rate of Change Trend* (Months) Manufacturing PMI 48.5 48.7 -0.2 Contracting Faster 3 New Orders 49.3 45.4 +3.9 Contracting Slower 3 Production 48.5 50.2 -1.7 Contracting From Growing 1 Employment 49.3 51.1 -1.8 Contracting From Growing 1 Supplier Deliveries 49.8 48.9 +0.9 Faster Slower 4 Inventories 45.4 47.9 -2.5 Contracting Faster 17 Customers’ Inventories 47.4 48.3 -0.9 Too Low Faster 7 Prices 52.1 57.0 -4.9 Increasing Slower 6 Backlog of Orders 41.7 42.4 -0.7 Contracting Faster 21 New Export Orders 48.8 50.6 -1.8 Contracting From Growing 1 Imports 48.5 51.1 -2.6 Contracting From Growing 1 Thumbnail shows an automobile manufacturing line. Image by Anna Szilagyi/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

01-Jul-2024

SHIPPING: Panama Canal increases drafts, to add another transit slot on 5 August

HOUSTON (ICIS)–The Panama Canal Authority (PCA) has increased the maximum allowable draft to transit the Neopanamax locks effective immediately, announced that another increase will take effect on 11 July, and will add an additional booking slot in the Neopanamax locks during Booking Period 2 for booking dates beginning 5 August. Source: Panama Canal Authority Water levels at Gatun Lake, the freshwater lake that feeds the canal’s locks have improved recently amid the arrival of the rainy season after a prolonged drought, allowing the PCA to continue to add transit slots. Water levels at Gatun Lake, currently at 81.3 feet, are projected to be at 82.1 feet by mid-July and to 87 feet by December. The transit restrictions that began in July 2023 – the first time in the canal’s history that limitations were placed on the number of daily transits – have gradually eased over the past few months and are approaching the average daily transits of 36-38/day seen prior to impacts from the drought. The improved conditions at the canal are likely to improve transit times for vessels travelling between the US Gulf and Asia, as well as between Europe and west coast Latin America countries. This should benefit chemical markets that move product between regions, including those in the following chart. The bottleneck at the Panama Canal has had varying affects on US chemical markets. Formosa Plastics USA had to shut down its EG2 unit because of negative impacts on monoethylene glycol (MEG) exports because of the backlog and delays transiting the canal. The majority of product from the unit is expected to be exported to Asia. The company restarted the unit this week. Higher water levels at the Panama Canal could also have knock-down effects on US natural gas demand, ICIS feedstocks analyst Barin Wise said. If higher water levels at the canal enable liquefied natural gas (LNG) shippers to cut down on travel times from the US Gulf Coast to Asia, it could encourage LNG export plant managers to maximize output, he said. AUCTION PRICES EASE The PCA said recently that auction prices have levelled off since the peak period last year. In October-November 2023, there was a surge in auction prices related to a market-driven congestion premium, though this is no longer the case, the PCA said. Auction prices are generally near normal levels presently, though auctions remain an invaluable tool and option for customers who may otherwise not have secured reservations. The PCA noted that auction prices are also not set by the waterway, but rather influenced by many factors and market dynamics, including internal considerations such as waiting times and queue lengths, as well as external elements like charter rates and bunker prices. Additionally, the specific preferences and needs of individual customers, which may not be fully captured by the route value model, can also influence auction outcomes. WAIT TIMES FOR NON-BOOKED VESSELS Wait times for non-booked southbound vessels ready for transit have been relatively steady at less than two days, according to the PCA vessel tracker and as shown below. The tracker is only for non-booked vessels in the queue and shippers should consider two additional days as a minimum to estimate transit times for unscheduled vessels, the PCA said. Focus article by Adam Yanelli With additional reporting by Melissa Wheeler, Bryan Campbell and Emily Burleson Thumbnail photo: Shows a container ship transiting the Panama Canal. (Source: Courtesy of PCA)

28-Jun-2024

VIDEO: Europe R-PET bale prices rise in eastern Europe & PRSE round-up

LONDON (ICIS)–Senior Editor for Recycling, Matt Tudball, discusses the latest developments in the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market, including: Colorless and blue bale prices rise in eastern Europe PRSE: Most see stable market over summer PRSE: Confusion and frustration around lack of SUPD clarity PRSE: SUPD impact on R-PET not until Q4 earliest

27-Jun-2024

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