Synthetic rubbers

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There are endless potential uses for synthetic rubbers which can be found in everything from vehicle tyres to footwear. Spikes in demand occur frequently due to the breadth of downstream sectors in play, as well as the changeable market dynamics of each. Synthetic rubbers market players therefore need fast and easy access to accurate, relevant and timely information. This way, the right decisions can be made quickly.

Using an established international network of market experts, we are able to provide the speed, breadth and depth of coverage needed, along with benchmark prices to use in your negotiations. We monitor frequently traded synthetic rubbers varieties: styrene butadiene rubber (SBR); polybutadiene rubber (PBR); acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR); and elastomer ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) – so you can be sure to discover exactly the information you need.

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Houston storm disrupts chems, knocks power out for thousands

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Powerful thunderstorms in Houston and the Gulf Coast disrupted operations at chemical plants while leaving more than 700,000 without power as of Friday. The storms hit Houston on Thursday evening. TPC Group reported that severe weather caused a power outage, which led to flaring at its butadiene (BD) operations in Houston. Power was restored, and operations returned to the site, TPC said in a filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Lotte Chemical has delayed the restart of its cracker and downstream ethylene glycol (EG) unit in Lake Charles, Louisiana, to next week because of bad weather, according to market sources. Lotte did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The storm created winds of 40-78 miles/hour (64-126 km/hour), according to the National Weather Service. Such strong winds created widespread power outages throughout the region. In the late morning, more than 700,000 customers were without power in the Houston area, according to CenterPoint Energy, a power company that is the main transmission company. Overall, more than 777,000 outages were reported in Texas, according to PowerOutage.us. Another 90,000 outages were reported in Louisiana, another state that is home to several petrochemical plants and refineries. The winds reached hurricane force in downtown Houston, where many petrochemical companies have corporate offices. “This was an incredibly dangerous and destructive storm, impacting one of the largest cities and busiest travel hubs in America,” said AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter. “Downtown Houston has not seen wind damage like this since Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Hurricane Alicia in 1983. The winds were even stronger at greater heights because they experienced less friction from low-lying buildings and trees, according to AccuWeather. Wind gusts of 33 miles/hour near ground level would equate to 80 miles/hour at six stories and 90 miles/hour at 10 stories. The wind strength at those elevated stories would be the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale. Preliminary damage estimates from AccuWeather point to $5 billion to $7 billion in total damage and economic loss from the storm in southeast Texas, it said. So far, major railroad companies have not issued any alerts about disruptions to their lines. Port Houston said its terminals are operating as usual. Additional reporting by Adam Yanelli and Melissa Wheeler  (adds paragraphs 3, 5-6, 9-13) Photo shows aftermath of the storms that hit Houston. Image by ICIS.

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

BLOG: Chemicals, sustainability and the new industrial revolution

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson: Blood bags, syringes, disposable hospital sheets, gowns and medicine packaging. Modern-day medicine, which has greatly extended the quantity and quality of our lives, would be impossible without the plastics industry. Computers, smartphones, washing machines, refrigerators and automobiles cannot be manufactured without plastics and chemicals. Think of women in the developing world who still have to wash clothes by hand (this is, sadly, how some patriarchal societies work). Imagine the time and energy they would save if their families can afford their first washing machine, enabling girls and women to spend more time at school and freeing them up to attend college. The absence of decent roads in developing countries doesn’t matter a jot because, since the invention of the smartphone, buying and selling goods and services, issuing microfinance and keeping accounts up to date can be done on the go. The scale of future demand for nine of the world’s biggest synthetic polymers is illustrated by the chart in today's post. We forecast that global demand for the resins will this year total 299 million tonnes, up from just 79 million tonnes in 1992 which I believe was the start of the Petrochemicals Supercycle. By 2024, we predict that demand will reach 515 million tonnes – a 72% increase. The question on the exam paper is how we meet this demand in as sustainable a fashion as possible. This is going to require a new industrial revolution. Jim Fitterling, CEO of Dow Chemical, provided the best summary I have seen of the challenges that lie ahead for the chemicals industry. This was in a speech he gave in New York on 8 May. He highlighted the strain on electricity supply resulting from the growth in artificial intelligence, making it harder for the chemicals industry to secure the renewable electricity it needs to decarbonise. While it was “almost fashionable” to blame producers for plastics waste, around 3bn people around the world lacked access to basic waste management. About 95% of leakage occurs in emerging markets with underdeveloped waste management systems, he said. Demand for recycled plastics outstrips supply and was growing, but the ecosystem to collect, sort and efficiently recycle plastics waste was not keeping up, he added. Government support for these efforts would be critical – policies that preserved the many benefits of plastics while also helping eliminating waste, the CEO said. Through its history, the chemical industry had a formidable record of achievement in overcoming challenges and can do it again in making the energy transition a reality and ending plastics pollution, said the Dow CEO. Key to this was harnessing talent – not just chemical talent, but a new generation of workers who understood robotics, AI, machine learning and analytics, he said. Hear, hear! Let’s get on the with this new industrial revolution. Editor’s note: This blog post is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS.

17-May-2024

Dow CEO touts cost position in Terneuzen, Tarragona sites amid tough European outlook

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Dow's operations in Terneuzen, the Netherlands, and Tarragona, Spain, have attractive costs for a region that is struggling to remain competitive against other parts of the world with cheaper energy, the CEO said on Thursday. Dow has crackers at both sites, and they can use imported liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as feedstock to produce ethylene. The imports give the crackers a cost advantage. "Terneuzen and Tarragona are in great cost positions, and both of those countries, the Netherlands and Spain, have good energy policies," said Dow CEO Jim Fitterling. He made his comments during an investor day presentation. "Going forward, I feel good about how they are going to wind up, and we have good plans there," he said. "We have good line of site to keep cost competitiveness." The company mentioned cracking more LPG at Terneuzen to lower its costs. Exports of LPG should increase from the US in the next couple of years as midstream companies complete terminal expansions. The US Gulf Coast is running out of export capacity to handle growing amounts of propane being produced in the country. EUROPE LACKS COST POSITION TO EXPORTOther companies are selling European businesses or shutting down plants because of excess global capacity and high costs. Fitterling sees no signs that Europe is considering any policies that could address high energy costs. "Europe is focused more on the stick, on carbon emissions reductions," he said. "They are not focused at all on energy policy to drive down energy costs. Energy costs are going to continue to rise." Dow's cost position does allow it to serve the domestic market, but it is not in Europe to export, Fitterling said. "Europe doesn't have the cost position any more to export." Dow will continue find ways to improve its cost position at its European operations, he said. But the company's growth investments will be in low-cost regions and in high value projects.

16-May-2024

PODCAST: China PP exports to weigh on SE Asia on ample propylene supply

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The ample supply of propylene in Asia and new polypropylene (PP) capacities in China are expected to weigh on discussions in southeast Asia over the coming months. Asia C3 to lengthen after PDH restarts in China, SE Asia volumes China PP exports to weigh on SE Asia discussions Asia PP prices to come under pressure in June-July In this podcast, ICIS editors Julia Tan, Jackie Wong and Lucy Shuai discuss current trends in Asia's propylene and PP markets, and what we can expect going forward. Visit us at Booth 13 at the Grand Ballroom Foyer at the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas! Book a meeting with ICIS here.

16-May-2024

US home builder confidence dives as mortgage rates exceed 7%

HOUSTON (ICIS)–US builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes fell sharply in May as higher mortgage rates “hammer” confidence, the National Association of Home Builders said on Wednesday. Mortgage rates averaged above 7% for the past four weeks as a lack of progress on reducing inflation pushed long-term interest rates higher, NAHB said. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) fell by six points from April to 45 in May – its first decline since November 2023. HMI readings below the 50 neutral mark indicate that builders are pessimistic, readings above 50 that they are optimistic. The high mortgage rates have pushed many potential buyers back to the sidelines and the market has slowed, NAHB said. Another worry are new code rules that require the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Department of Agriculture to insure mortgages for new single-family homes only if they are built to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code. This would further increase the cost of construction in a market “that sorely needs more inventory for first-time and first-generation buyers”, said NAHB chairman Carl Harris. NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz added: “The last leg in the inflation fight is to reduce shelter inflation, and this can only occur if builders are able to construct more attainable, affordable housing.” The housing market is a key consumer of chemicals, driving demand for a wide variety of chemicals, resins and derivative products, such as plastic pipe, insulation, paints and coatings, adhesives and synthetic fibers, among many others. Please also visit the ICIS construction topic page and Macroeconomics: Impact on Chemicals. Thumbnail photo source: NAHB

15-May-2024

PODCAST: Asia propylene derivative demand still slow amid uncertainty

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asian oxo-alcohols buyers maintained a wait and watch approach, amid the possibility of added plant capacities in China weighing on market sentiment. The acrylonitrile (ACN) market continues to see limited spot demand in the northeast Asia market. Even as downstream acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) has seen higher production rates recently, ACN producers were unlikely to increase operating rates. For the acrylates downstream, butyl-A market in Asia continues to take direction from Chinese domestic prices. With India's Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) requirements preventing Chinese origin imports, cargoes from China were flowing into SE Asia and NE Asia. In this podcast, ICIS editors Julia Tan and Corey Chew discuss trends in the Asia propylene and derivatives markets. Visit ICIS during APIC ’24 on 30-31 May at Booth 13 in the Grand Ballroom Foyer in the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas. Book a meeting with ICIS here.

15-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

PODCAST: Like blocks pulled out of a Jenga tower, chemicals closures could collapse value chains

BARCELONA (ICIS)–The closure of chemical plants in Europe and elsewhere could remove essential raw material supplies, threatening the future of downstream industrial value chains. Global oversupply, driven by China, forecast to reach over 200 million tonnes/year by 2028 Interconnected value chains threatened if important raw materials cease production Globally 20 million tonnes of ethylene capacity may need to shut down to keep operating rates healthy In Europe 5.6 million tonnes/year of polypropylene (PP) capacity may need to close Integrated chemicals sites under threat if parts shut down Industry associations could help plan to maintain critical raw materials supplies Anti-dumping measures could protect exposed markets China polyvinyl chloride (PVC) overcapacity may increase exports globally In this Think Tank podcast, Will Beacham interviews ICIS Insight Editor Nigel Davis, ICIS Senior Consultant Asia John Richardson and Paul Hodges, chairman of New Normal Consulting. Editor’s note: This podcast is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the presenter and interviewees, and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS. ICIS is organising regular updates to help the industry understand current market trends. Register here . Read the latest issue of ICIS Chemical Business. Read Paul Hodges and John Richardson's ICIS blogs.

14-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

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