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Mexico’s Altamira petchems force majeure declarations continue on severe drought

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Petrochemicals producers in the production hub of Altamira, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, keep declaring force majeure as a severe drought halved water supplies to industrial players. On Thursday, a spokesperson for Cabot said to ICIS the company has also declared force majeure for carbon black from its Altamira facilities, which adds to several force majeure declarations in the past two weeks. The drought affecting Tamaulipas has its epicenter in the south of the state, where Altamira is located, and recent minimal rainfall has not helped much to fill up the state’s water reservoirs. The drought, which the state government says has lasted already eight years, has reached a critical point in 2024, prompting authorities to arrange water deliveries in tanker trucks from other state municipalities as well as other Mexican states. The crisis could end up hitting US petrochemicals, as the state is a key supplier to that market. Earlier this week, M&G Polimeros declared force majeure on one of its two polyethylene terephthalate (PET) lines from Altamira. The line has a production capacity of 420,000 tonnes/year, which has prompted fears the US’ PET supply could be hit. PETROCHEMICALS HIT HARDCabot’s force majeure from Altamira on carbon black – a material used as a colorant and reinforcing filler in tires and other rubber products, as well as a pigment and wear protection additive in plastics and paints – follows a string of declarations from other producers. “Over the past weeks, the water supply to our Altamira plant has deteriorated in both quantity and quality. Consequently, our plant is currently unable to operate all production units and is running limited production, along with warehouse, packing, and shipping operations,” Cabot’s spokesperson said. “Due to this situation beyond our control, Cabot has declared a force majeure for carbon black from this facility.” Apart from M&G Polimeros’ force majeure on PET, several other producers in Altamira have also issued force majeure declarations or have sharply reduced operating rates. Mexico’s chemicals producer Orbia/Vestolit, a large polyvinyl chloride (PVC) player, was one of the first companies to declare a force majeures out of its facilities in Altamira in mid-May. This week, a spokesperson for the company said to ICIS the force majeure remained in place, with no expected date for return to operations as the water situation has not improved, rather the opposite. Saudi petrochemicals major SABIC declared force majeure on acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). European major INEOS Styrolution also declared force majeure on ABS from Altamira, as well as on general purpose polystyrene (GPPS). US chemicals producer Chemours also said it has halted titanium dioxide (TiO2) operations in Altamira. Germany’s major BASF, also with facilities in Altamira, had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. Trade group the Association of Industrial Companies of Southern Tamaulipas (AISTAC), which represents many of the producers listed above, had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. WATER TANKERS, DRY LAGOONSThe governor of Tamaulipas, Americo Villarreal, ordered this week to send tanker trucks to the south of the state from other municipalities not affected as harshly by the drought, as well as from other Mexican states. The trucks will not sort out the dire situation at industrial parks, however, as the water will be deployed to households, which are also suffering water restrictions. “With the arrival of these units, support to the southern area of ​​Tamaulipas is reinforced, adding to those that the Secretariat [agency for hydraulic resources] had previously sent, as well as those that have arrived from other entities, with 50 units distributing water,” said the state’s government. “[This] coupled with the installation of 25 isotanks with a capacity of 24,000 liters in strategic points, sent previously by the agency.” As if it was not enough for tamaulipecos to suffer water restrictions in their own homes, natural spaces they hold dear are also showing the scars of more severe droughts as climate change advances unabated. This week, local media reported how Champayan lagoon, a large water natural reservoir west of Altamira, dried up practically from one day to the other. Front page picture: Tanker trucks heading to the Altamira area for emergency water supplies for households Source: Government of Tamaulipas Clarification: Re-casts paragraph 15

06-Jun-2024

Proman Stena Bulk launches methanol-fueled chemical tanker in Singapore

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

23-May-2024

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

NPE '24: BASF Corp CEO optimistic of agreement at next UN plastic treaty talks

ORLANDO (ICIS)–BASF Corp CEO Mike Heinz is optimistic that a binding agreement could be reached during the next round of negotiations of the UN plastic waste treaty, he said on Wednesday. BASF had sent a team to the previous round that was held in Ottawa, he said. "The feedback that we received from them was cautiously optimistic." Heinz made his comments in an interview with ICIS at this year’s NPE: The Plastics Show. He also gave the keynote address at the trade show. Another reason for optimism is that all of the parties are pursuing the same objective: to prevent plastic waste from entering the environment, Heinz said. An agreement would be one that all stakeholders could live with. He acknowledged some disagreement about how to achieve that objective. Some want to curb production of plastic, he said. BASF and others want to achieve it by curbing pollution. Already, BASF and other chemical companies are incorporating recycled materials into their products. Recycling can be part of a larger sustainable production chain, under which chemical complexes rely on renewable energy to make products from recycled and renewable materials that can be recovered and reused. These materials can be used to make wind blades, electric vehicles (EVs) and other products critical to reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). Heinz summed up the path to a sustainable future as resting on three three pillars: make, use and recycle. SUSTAINABILITY VERBUNDDuring his speech and in a subsequent interview with ICIS, Heinz described what could be characterized as a Verbund based on sustainability. "This will take some time, but the good news is we already have some concrete examples on how it can be done," Heinz said. As an example, he held up a jacket made with 100% recycled nylon 6 from BASF that was sold by Inditex, the owner the clothing brand Zara. Heinz pointed to BASF's equity stakes in European wind packs. By 2030, BASF wants green energy to account for 60% of its power consumption. For chemical companies, one of the most power-hungry processes is steam cracking. BASF, SABIC and Linde are developing an e-cracker that would rely on electric furnaces to generate the heat needed to produce ethylene. The electricity could come from renewable sources, which would significantly reduce the CO2 emissions of steam cracking. Crackers can process renewable naphtha made from natural oils or pyrolysis oil produced at chemical recycling plants. It will take time for these feedstocks to become abundant, but the model is possible, and BASF is making chemicals with such feedstocks. New, renewable feedstocks can lead to new chemistries that result in materials that have better qualities than those based on petroleum.  The products can also help customers achieve their own sustainability goals. Lighter plastics can allow automobiles to travel farther on a tank of gasoline or on a battery charge. Other plastics will be critical to make EVs safe. Products can be designed to last longer, he said. When they do reach the end of their lifecycles, they can be designed to be easier to recover and recycle. STEPS NEEDED TO ACHIEVE SUSTAINABILITYDuring his keynote speech, Heinz noted that while the chemical industry is part of the problem, it can be a bigger part of the solution. Change will require passionate people, innovation and collaboration, he said. In particular, the chemical industry needs to collaborate with lawmakers and nongovernmental organizations (NGO) to come up with those solutions. Produced by Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), NPE: The Plastics Show takes place 6-10 May in Orlando, Florida. Interview article by Al Greenwood Thumbnail shows a plastic bottle, which can be recycled. Image by monticello/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

08-May-2024

Avient eyes further sales growth in defense, narrows 2024 earnings guidance

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Following a better-than-expected 2024 first quarter, US compounder and formulator Avient raised its full-year guidance for adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) by $5 million at the low end. Sales into the defense market, along with raw material deflation, were the key earnings drivers in Q1 and Avent expects both to support earnings through 2024, CEO Ashish Khandpur and CFO Jamie Beggs told analysts during the company’s Q1 earnings call on Tuesday. New 2024 guidance Previous 2024 guidance Pro forma 2023 adjusted EBITDA $505 to $535 million $510 to $535 million $501.8 million SALES IMPROVING IN MOST END MARKETSAvient sees demand conditions “generally improving across all regions”, with improved momentum in consumer, packaging, healthcare, defense and industrial end markets, the executives said. After a 35% year-on-year increase in Q1, defense sales amid the ongoing geopolitical tensions, Avient expects those sales to continue growing through 2024, albeit not at the first quarter’s hot pace, they said. Avient’s Dyneema-brand fiber technology is used in the personal protection of soldiers and law enforcement and border control officers. While Avient’s utilization rates in defense are high, the company is able to meet forecast demand growth and expects no capacity limitations this year. However, it may add capacities in the future, depending on demand, which can be “lumpy” in that market, they said. Defense accounted for 7% of Avient’s total 2023 sales of $3.14 billion, with more than half of those sales in the US. Avient acquired the Dyneema business from DSM in 2022. Telecommunications and energy, however, are among the weaker end markets, with first-quarter sales down double-digit and weakness continuing into the second quarter. Destocking in the capital-intensive telecommunications market continued in Q1, with no meaningful rebound in that market expected until 2025, the executives said. Telecommunications accounted for 4% of Avient’s 2023 sales. BY REGION Regionally, Avient sees good momentum in the US in markets such as consumer packaging, defense, building and construction, industrial and infrastructure. “Destocking in those markets is over”, Khandpur said. With the exception of telecommunications and energy, overall demand in North America is “coming back quite well”, he said. However, persistent inflation is delaying the timing of interest rate cuts, which could weigh on sales in end markets such as building and construction, transportation and industrial, the executives said. In China, about 70% of Avient’s sales go into the local market, putting the company into a good position as that country’s economic policies transition to focus on the domestic market, the executives said. In Europe, demand in packaging and healthcare is improving, but Avient expects the region’s overall year-on-year sales growth to be soft. Consumer confidence in Europe is weak and eurozone manufacturing continues to signal contraction, they noted. Meanwhile, the stronger US dollar has become a headwind, they added. Sales by region in 2023: RAW MATERIAL DEFLATION Raw material deflation will continue to support margin expansion in the second quarter, albeit to a lesser extent than in the first quarter, the executives said. In the first quarter, Avient saw better-than-expected pricing for non hydrocarbon-based raw materials such as pigments and certain performance additives. Primary raw materials used in Avient’s manufacturing operations include polyolefin and other thermoplastic resins, titanium oxide (TiO2), inorganic and organic pigments, specialty additives and ethylene. Pricing, net of raw materials, should help drive year-on-year earnings growth in 2024, the executives said. Also, the company expects additional margin expansion due synergies and plant closures related to its acquisition of Clariant’s masterbatch business back in 2020, Beggs noted. M&A NOT A PRIORITY In the near-term, Avient will focus on organic growth and margin expansion whereas growth through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is not a priority. While Avient is not ruling out M&A, any deals would be “small and bolt-on in nature”, in areas like healthcare, sustainable solutions or composites, with focus on Asia and Latin America, Khandpur said. “Premiums are pretty high” in M&A, he added. Thumbnail photo of Ashish Khandpur, who took over as Avient's CEO and president on 1 December 2023; photo source: Avient

07-May-2024

Americas top stories: weekly summary

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News from the week ended 3 May. Besieged by imports, Brazil’s chemicals put hopes on hefty import tariffs hike Brazilian chemicals producers are lobbying hard for an increase in import tariffs for key polymers and petrochemicals from 12.6% to 20%, and higher in cases, hoping the hike could slow down the influx of cheap imports, which have put them against the wall. US manufacturing falls back into contraction in April, prices rise Economic activity in US manufacturing contracted in April after expanding in March, according to the Institute of Supply Management’s (ISM) latest purchasing managers’ index (PMI) survey released on Wednesday. SABIC Q1 net income falls 62%, warns of industry overcapacity SABIC's net income fell by 62% year on year to Saudi Riyal (SR) 250 million in the first quarter amid a drop in prices and sales volumes, the chemicals major said late on Wednesday. US TiO2 producer Kronos to shut down production via sulfate process in Varennes, Canada Kronos Worldwide, a titanium dioxide (TiO2) producer headquartered in Dallas, Texas, US is planning to permanently shut down sulfate-based production at its location in Varennes, Quebec, Canada. US Huntsman assets in Europe spare from energy hit, but EU policies erratic – CEO Huntsman’s assets in Europe are not energy intensive and have been spared from the energy crisis, but more broadly, the 27-country EU is still lacking a comprehensive policy to address the issue, the CEO at US chemicals major Huntsman said on Friday.

06-May-2024

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

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

30-Apr-2024

Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 26 April. Europe TiO2 sees upside for Q2 on margins and improved buying Price rises are gaining traction for Europe titanium dioxide (TiO2) contracts in Q2. This is due to margin recovery needs, renewed buying activity in Q1 and as uncertainty surrounding the EU anti-dumping case against Chinese TiO2 imports looms large. BASF Q1 net income drops, maintains full-year guidance Lower pricing across most business divisions drove a 12.4% drop in BASF’s first-quarter net income year on year, with the chemicals major maintaining full-year guidance as sector demand shows early signs of recovery. Europe April nylon 6 contract price rise on supply tightness, upstream pressures European April nylon 6 contract prices have risen from March, pressured by tight supply in parts of the market and further increases to the feedstock costs. Eurozone April private sector activity momentum accelerates despite weaker manufacturing Eurozone private sector activity continued to thaw in April, moving further into growth territory as a resurgent service sector offset a manufacturing industry sinking deeper into contraction. IPEX: Global spot index little changed as firmer Asian prices offset falls in Europe, US Gulf The global spot ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) was little changed in the week, as slightly firmer prices in northeast Asia offset lower values in northwest Europe and the US Gulf.

29-Apr-2024

Canada moves ahead with plastics registry as UN plastics pollution session starts in Ottawa

TORONTO (ICIS)–Following the conclusion of a consultation period, Canada’s federal government has published a formal notice in the Canada Gazette for its planned Federal Plastics Registry. The registry will require plastic resin manufacturers, producers of plastic products and service providers to annually report on the amounts and types of plastic they put out in the market, and where the plastic ends up. Environment minister Steven Guilbeault said at a webcast press event on Monday that the registry would create an inventory of plastics data, with the objective of providing transparency about the production, distribution, sale, use and disposal of plastics in Canada. Industry knew what kind of plastics is being produced, to whom it is sold, and how it is used, the minister said. The registry, in turn, would put this information into one place and make it accessible to the public, researchers and non-governmental organizations, enabling them to track plastics production and plastics use, he said. The registry would have a similar role in fighting plastic pollution as the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory reports the government uses in combatting emissions, he said, adding that without this information it was hard to tackle these challenges. The first phase of reporting to the plastics registry’s IT system is due to begin on 29 September 2025. UN PLASTICS POLLUTION TREATYIn related news, delegates from more than 170 countries on Tuesday gathered in Ottawa for the fourth session of the UN’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC-4) to develop an international legally binding treaty on containing plastic pollution. The event runs from 23-29 April. German chemical producers’ trade group VCI and Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) said they are supporting the fight against plastics pollution. VCI is looking to INC-4 and a subsequent final INC-5 to be held in South Korea in November for a global commitment to a circular economy, in which plastic products are reused or recycled, rather than ending up as waste in the environment, it said. At the same time, VCI stressed the benefits of plastics. An across-the-board "demonization" of plastics would end up harming the climate and the environment, rather than helping it, said VCI director general Wolfgang Grosse Entrup. “A sustainable future requires plastics," he said and pointed, as examples, to plastics used in wind turbines, electric vehicles (EV) and packaging – applications in which plastics help avoid carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, he said. Likewise, CIAC vice president of policy Isabelle Des Chenes told media in a webcast event that plastics, for example, help preserve food. "There's a lot of plastic and there's a lot of plastic for a reason," she added. Additional reporting by Tom Brown Thumbnail photo of environment minister Steven Guilbeault; photo source: government of Canada

23-Apr-2024

US Tronox’s Q1 earnings higher than expected as TiO2, zircon sales shoot up

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–US titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zircon producer Tronox’s shares were up strongly on Monday after the company said its earnings in the first quarter had come between 9-31% higher than the analysts’ consensus. Tronox earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) stood at $131 million in Q1. Analyst consensus expected that figure to be between $100-120 million. Tronox’s shares were up 5.87% in Monday afternoon’s trading at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), compared with the last close on 19 April. EBITDA posted strong growth compared with the fourth quarter, although it fell year on year. EBITDA is the preferred metric to measure a company’s financial health as it strips out external factors out of the company’s control. Sales rose in all metrics for titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zircon, a mineral that increases resistance on glass and metal. The company's main end market is the paints and coatings sector, where TiO2 is the key feedstock. In February, the company already gave a hint its performance was proving better than expected when it raised operating rates for TiO2, with the company confident at the time that pricing for that material had bottomed out and should start improving after Q1. These are Tronox’s key products – TiO2 sales rose in Q1 by 8% year on year, and by 17% quarter on quarter. Zircon posted even better metrics, although its weight within Tronox’s portfolio is much lower than TiO2’s. In Q1, zircon sales rose by 22% year on year, and by 54% quarter on quarter. Tronox (in $/million) Q1 2024 Q1 2023 Change Q4 2023 Change Q4 2023 vs Q1 2024 Revenue 774 708 9% 686 13% EBITDA 131 146 -10% 94 39% EBITDA margin 16.9% 20.6% -3.70% 13.7% 3.2% Net income/loss -9 25 N/A -56 N/A TIO2, ZIRCON AND OUTLOOK“Costs continued to trend favorably as a result of improved absorption from higher production volumes and the absence of non-repeating charges in prior quarters,” said Tronox’s CEO, John D Romano. The company added its priorities for the rest of 2024 would be prioritizing investments which “are critical to furthering our strategy” as well as bolstering its liquidity on the back of what it expects will be market recovery. The Stamford, state of Connecticut-headquartered producer added it will also aim to resume debt payments as well as “evaluate strategic high-growth” opportunities for potential acquisitions but fell short of disclosing more details. STOCK JUMP EXPECTED “Management attributed the guidance raise [to Q1 financials] to demand outpacing expectations for both TiO2 and zircon,” said analysts at Alembic Chemical Advisors. “Management also stated that in line with their year-end earnings call guidance, their costs continue to trend favorably as a result of improved absorption from higher production volume and the absence of non-repeating charges in prior quarters.” Analysts at Alembic Chemical did forecast Monday’s sharp price increase, adding it would return to more normal trading patterns after the excitement subsided. The chemical equity analysts at Alembic recommended selling Tronox’s stock to cash in gains while the rises on the positive Q1 preliminary results sentiment lasted.

22-Apr-2024

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