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Chemanol to supply methanol to Saudi Amiral project over 20 years

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi Arabia's Methanol Chemicals Co (Chemanol) has signed a 20-year deal to supply methanol to the Amiral petrochemical project of Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Co (SATORP). Under the agreement, Chemanol will supply 100,000 tonnes of methanol to SATORP on an annual basis when the complex starts up in three years' time, Chemanol said in a filing on the Saudi Stock Exchange. “The commercial operation [of Amiral complex] and supply [of methanol] are planned to start by the end of 2027,” Chemanol said. It added that "the financial impact of this agreement is currently indeterminable due to the changes in market conditions and product prices at the time of starting to supply the methanol". SATORP, a joint venture between energy giant Saudi Aramco and French TotalEnergies, is expanding operations via building the $11bn Amiral complex in Jubail. The complex is expected to have a mixed-feed cracker and utilities, with a nameplate capacity of 1.65m tonnes/year of ethylene and related industrial gases. Engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contracts for the Amiral project were awarded in June 2023 to South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction. Aramco owns 62.5% of SATORP, while TotalEnergies holds the remaining stake of 37.5%. The companies made a final investment decision on Amiral in December 2022, to enable SATORP’s Jubail refinery to advance Aramco’s liquids-to-chemicals strategy. Amiral will enable SATORP to convert internally produced refinery off-gases and naphtha, as well as ethane and natural gasoline supplied by Aramco, into higher value chemicals. Thumbnail image: At a port in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 15 May 2023. (Ute Grabowsky/imageBROKER/Shutterstock)

25-Jun-2024

ICIS EXPLAINS: UK election impact on energy

UPDATED: On 24 June 2024, ICIS updated this analysis to include a review of the renewable capacity pledges from manifestos and their likelihood of being met On 21 June 2024, ICIS updated this analysis to include a breakdown of the impact of new gas licenses on British gas supply On 20 June 2024, ICIS updated this analysis to include the Scottish National Party's manifesto plans for energy. The manifesto table now includes these details Initial analysis published with detailed table reviewing energy policies from announced manifesto pledges, original analyses covering nuclear power and gas-fired power generation, a UK election special episode of the ICIS Hydrogen Insights podcast LONDON (ICIS) — On 4 July 2024 the UK public will elect a new government, but what do the different parties have in store for energy? The following analysis reflect core pledges from manifestos and reviews those pledges in detail using ICIS data and insights. This analysis of UK political pledges and announcements will be continuously updated by the ICIS energy editorial team. Lead authors include: UK power reporter Anna Coulson, British gas reporter Matthew Farmer. UK PARTIES COULD STRUGGLE TO MEET RENEWABLE CAPACITY ELECTION PLEDGES – Added to analysis 24 June 2024 UK parties unlikely to meet capacity targets Key to onshore wind would be change to regulation Offshore wind could struggle following recent CfD round LONDON (ICIS)–For the UK general election, Labour, the Conservatives and the Green Party are the only three of the main parties to present outright capacity targets for renewable energy deployment across their manifestos. However, ICIS data and analyst insight suggests that meeting such targets could face difficulties due to recent setbacks in the UK’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) bidding process and restrictive regulation for onshore wind. The Labour party manifesto states it will double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030. To present an idea of this, ICIS has multiplied its forecasted capacity for these technologies in the UK by the end of 2024 by their respective factors according to Labour’s pledges. Actual intended capacity may vary. ICIS had contacted the Labour party for comment but received no response by the time of publication. Onshore wind Labour plans to double onshore wind capacity by 2030, while the Green Party would deploy 53GW of capacity by 2035. The Liberal Democrats would ‘remove the Conservative’s unnecessary restrictions on new wind power’, likely referring to the requirements the current government introduced in 2015 and changes to the law in 2016. Planning policies were updated in September 2023 to allow locations suitable for new wind farms to be identified in several ways, rather than only in the area’s development plan. However, decisions continue to be made by local planning authorities which differs to the process for other infrastructure projects where decisions on major projects are made by the Secretary of State. The current government does not have an onshore wind capacity target and the Conservative’s manifesto has no mention of one however, it does state that the party will ensure democratic consent for onshore wind. ICIS analytics forecasts 25.85GW of onshore wind capacity in 2030 and in 2035, under a base case scenario, which is below Labour and the Green Party’s targets. ICIS analyst, Robbie Jackson-Stroud, stated that planning permission is one of the main challenges onshore wind projects face. “Costs for turbines have also risen and so they are then squeezed into a CfD funding pot where they have to compete with solar”, he added. Jackson-Stroud noted that onshore wind could be a key component to the development of renewable capacity in the UK, changes to regulation permitting. “One aspect that is likely to change is regulation and approval of onshore wind projects, which require less budget and time to build. However, it is difficult to envisage a new government being timely enough to sufficiently improve the approval process and have enough projects apply to shift onshore capacity before 2030. It should be noted, however, how much potential a change to regulation would have to long term capacities, and you can expect more capacity in the 2030s”, Jackson-Stroud said. Offshore wind The Conservatives, Labour and the Green party all position offshore wind as a key technology to support the decarbonization of the UK’s power system. However, achieving such targets appears difficult following an unsuccessful fifth auction of the CfD scheme in 2023, in which there were no bids for offshore wind amid a low strike price. The current government increased the strike price for the upcoming sixth auction round, raising the maximum strike price from £44/MWh to £73/MWh. Jackson-Stroud highlighted the difficulty facing the next wave of auctions when considering 2030 targets. “Both parties [Labour and the Conservatives] have pledged unachievable targets without a huge budget increase for the CfD. Taking into account the time it takes to build offshore wind sites (that are getting increasingly larger on average) there are only two CfD auctions at most that can fund capacity to come online by 2030. “There is roughly 27GW of offshore wind already under CfD, under construction or operational, suggesting the need for a further 23GW across two auctions, which would be a record at a time where costs are higher than they have ever been. While the budget for the latest round has been raised to an all-time high of £800m for offshore and £1.2bn total, this would still procure only 12GW of wind in even the most conservative estimates. "This means regardless of Labour increasing 2030 targets for offshore, even the 50GW already in place will not be met, and a change of party doesn’t change the blockers to this," Jackson-Stroud said. ICIS analytics forecasts that offshore wind capacity will be 39GW in 2030 under a base case scenario, therefore falling short of the Conservative and Labour party targets. Similarly, offshore wind capacity is forecast to be 48.04GW in 2035 under a base case scenario, well below the Green Party’s target. Solar Labour plan to triple solar capacity by 2030, while the Green Party and Conservatives have set targets for 2035, 100GW and 70GW respectively based on manifesto and recent policy announcements. However, reaching such targets may prove challenging based on recent CfD results. ICIS analyst Matthew Jones previously noted that for the UK to meet its 70GW by 2035 target, CfD capacity awards would need to average 4.5GW/year. However, over the last two CfD rounds, just 2.2GW was awarded in each. Further, ICIS analytics forecasts 42.97GW of solar capacity by 2030, and 48.54GW by 2035, under a base case scenario, therefore missing the Labour, Conservative and Green Party targets. Since the closure of the renewable obligation and feed-in tariff schemes, the CfD scheme is the only subsidized route to market for solar. The forecast models cited in this story are available as part of ICIS Power Foresight. If you would like to learn more about ICIS Power Foresight, please contact head of power analytics Matthew Jones at Matthew.Jones@icis.com UKCS LICENSING – Added to analysis 21 June 2024 Several parties have committed to end the issuing of new licenses for extraction of oil and gas on the UK continental shelf (UKCS), however ICIS analysis shows the inclusion of new licenses may have a minimal impact in mitigating output decline. Gas production on the UKCS started declining in 2000, but held steady during the 2010s. It currently accounts for approximately 40% of Britain’s gas supply mix, with the bulk of remaining volumes coming through Norwegian imports and LNG. From the late 2020s, UKCS production is expected to decline by approximately 6% per year. Licenses on new discoveries would not reverse the decline in British production expected in coming years. However, they would have accounted for another 0.80 billion cubic meters (bcm) of British gas production in 2030, increasing to 1.5bcm in 2035. In contrast to the other parties, the Conservatives and Reform UK have committed to annual licensing rounds and “fast-track” licenses, respectively. Both have done so with a justification of maintaining British energy independence, citing the rising price of energy caused by the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. GAS-FIRED POWER DEMAND LIKELY UNMOVED Both the Conservatives and the Labour party show support for the continued use of gas for power generation, bolstering a key area of demand for British gas market participants. However, of the two parties, the Conservatives presented a more bullish mentality by noting intensions for new gas plants, aligning with previous announcements to support new capacity. Labour meanwhile take a muted approach, noting the need for a strategic reserve of gas for power generation. Both Labour and the Conservatives have therefore presented policy that could reduce power-market price volatility as renewable capacity grows, with gas offering baseload generation at periods of low renewable output. Gas demand for power to remain From a gas-market perspective, the use of gas for power amounts to a large share of overall demand. In 2023, gas offtake for power accounted for 26% of total gas demand. The UK is heavily reliant on gas-fired power generation, with it contributing 26% of the UK’s electricity mix in the period 1 January to 31 May 2024, according to data from National Grid. Similarly, gas-fired generation provided an average 36.3% of the mix over the 2019-23 period, therefore making a significant contribution to the UK’s electricity stack. While the capacity of new gas generation is not mentioned in the Conservative party’s manifesto, ICIS analytics forecast data indicates that gas capacity is set to increase through to 2026, under a base case scenario. This would suggest that offtake for power generation could well remain a key share of overall gas demand under either a Conversative or a Labour government. Further, ICIS data shows that there will be 7.92GW of gas capacity in 2050 under a base case scenario, which itself raises uncertainty around the prospect of pledges to decarbonize power grids by around the 2030s. NUCLEAR Nuclear power represented a large focus for the Labour, Conservative and Reform UK parties, which each announced plans to increase nuclear capacity through a mix of measures, such as plant life extensions, new large-scale projects, or Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). Despite this, the overall pledges presented for the election suggests need for further capacity build-out in the run up to 2050 in order to meet the government's target. While the Conservative’s manifesto did not mention a specific nuclear capacity target, the current government has a target to reach 24GW of nuclear capacity by 2050. ICIS analytics forecasts that, under a base case scenario, nuclear capacity will be 12.76GW by 2050. Plant life extensions Although Labour’s manifesto did not provide details on which nuclear plants it intended to focus on for life extensions, or for how long, the intension is in line with former market announcements from EDF, which stated plans in January 2024 to extend the lives of five UK nuclear plants. EDF plans to invest an additional £1.3bn in these power stations over 2024-26, with the aim to maintain output from the four advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGR) for as long as possible, and for the Sizewell B plant to operate for an additional 20 years. The lifetimes of the four AGR stations would be reviewed by the end of 2024. New capacity From a new capacity perspective Labour pledged to get the 3.2GW Hinkley Point C project over the line and that new nuclear power stations, such as the 3.2GW Sizewell C project, will play a key role in helping the UK to achieve energy security and clean power. In January, the Conservatives announced plans for a new large-scale nuclear power plant, which would be as large as Hinkley Point C or Sizewell C, which are both 3.2GW in capacity. The current government announced in May that Wylfa would be the preferred site for this new plant however, a commissioning date is still to be confirmed. This aligns with the party’s manifesto pledge to deliver a new gigawatt power plant at the same location. The new plant in Wales could well boost UK nuclear capacity, but it would still present a capacity gap between the current ICIS forecast for 2050 and the government’s target of 24GW. Small modular reactors Labour, the Conservatives, and Reform UK all mention SMRs in their manifestos however, the Conservatives will approve two new fleets of SMRs within the first 100 days of the next parliament. This is likely through the competitive process that Great British Nuclear (GBN) launched in 2023 to select SMR technologies best placed to be operational by the mid-2030s. GBN plans to announce successful bidders for the competition by the end of 2024 and to take two SMR projects to a final investment decision by 2029. However, it must be noted that SMRs are a new technology, and none are commissioned yet in Europe.    HYDROGEN In this UK general election special, ICIS hydrogen editor speaks with Rob Dale, founder and director of UK consultancy Beyond2050, which aims at supporting market participants in achieving their energy and sustainability goals. Over the course of the episode, Jake and Rob review which parties have committed to hydrogen for the election and what makes this election the biggest for hydrogen so far.

24-Jun-2024

Americas top stories: weekly summary

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News from the week ended 21 June. Brazil’s authorities' response to floods decent, society’s humbling – Abiquim CEO Brazil’s authorities’ response to the devastating floods in Rio Grande do Sul was appropriate, while that of civic society was “marvelous and exemplary”, according to the CEO at chemicals trade group Abiquim. PPG sees strong sustainability demand pull for coatings, race to adapt to new processes – exec US-based coatings producer PPG is seeing robust demand for sustainable products from customers, some of which rely on new, more energy efficient processes, said an executive on Monday. For drought-stricken area, rain in Mexico’s Altamiras could help end petchem crisis – analyst Rains this week in the area where the Altamira petrochemicals hub is located, in Mexico’s state of Tamaulipas, could start fixing the weeks-long drought which has hit companies in the area hard, according to an analyst at supply chain consultancy Everstream. Tropical Storm Alberto floods beaches amid storm surge, high tide, but plant ops unaffected so far Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, continues to push toward the Mexico coast and a combination of storm surge and high tides are already flooding some Texas coastal communities. Canada chemical industry flags concerns about ‘greenwashing’ amendment Canada’s chemical industry is concerned about the impacts from a legislative amendment to address “greenwashing”, an industry executive said on Friday. Chile’s crusade against plastics prompting stronger sustainability push by firms – trade group Chile remains at the forefront of restrictive plastics regulations in Latin America as the whole political spectrum tries to capitalize in rules which resonate with public opinion, according to the CEO at the country’s trade group Asipla.

24-Jun-2024

Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 21 June. Indian phosphates buyers awaiting subsidies clarity from new government The bullish sentiment in the phosphates world continues, as supply in the Americas remains particularly tight, and demand firming. Europe naphtha, gasoline prices push higher despite weak fundamentals Europe naphtha market spot quotations appear to be torn between firming upstream Brent crude values and waning demand-side fundamentals, with weakness in gasoline particularly denting sentiment. New industrial deal needed to enable energy transition – Europe trade groups The EU needs a powerful industrial strategy to deliver the massive expansion in renewable energy required to power energy-intensive sectors which will provide locally made raw materials, according to a coalition of regional trade groups. Europe BDO heading into Q3 with hopes of stability rather than improvement Although the better-than-expected demand during the first half of 2024 would typically give rise to positivity for the European butanediol (BDO) market, players are tempering their predictions to hopes of stability. Downstream restructuring darkens Europe PX outlook despite shipping disruption uplift Paraxylene (PX) demand in Europe is likely to be relatively firm over the summer as seasonal buying appetite couples with stronger offtakes from downstream markets impacted by delayed imports and higher freight costs.

22-Jun-2024

Tropical disturbance approaching US Georgia, Florida coasts not likely to disrupt chem ops

HOUSTON (ICIS)–A tropical disturbance moving towards the Georgia-Florida state lines is unlikely to disrupt any chemical plant operations in the region, and activity at the Port of Savannah was normal as of mid-afternoon on Friday. Source: National Hurricane Center (NHC) According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the disturbance, identified as AL92, is about 80 miles (129 km) east-southeast of Brunswick, Georgia, lacks the necessary organization to form a hurricane. Maximum sustained winds are at 35 miles/hour. The NHC said that even if the showers and thunderstorms become better organized, AL92 would be a “short-lived” tropical depression before making landfall, where it will immediately begin losing intensity. Operations at the Port of Savannah (Georgia) were normal as of mid-afternoon on Friday. The NHC is also watching an area of low pressure above the Bay of Campeche, where environmental conditions appear conducive for gradual development as it moves slowly to the west-northwest, and a tropical depression could form over the southwestern US Gulf this weekend. There is likely to be increased focus on US Gulf petchem production this summer as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting the greatest number of hurricanes in the agency’s history. NOAA forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center said that the hurricane season – which started on 1 June and runs through 30 November – has an 85% chance to be above normal, a 10% chance of being near normal and only a 5% chance of being below normal. The prediction of 17-25 named storms is the highest ever, topping the 14-23 predicted in 2010. Damage from hurricanes can lead to increased demand for chemicals, but hurricanes and tropical storms can also disrupt the North American petrochemical industry because many of the nation's plants and refineries are along the US Gulf Coast in the states of Texas and Louisiana. In 2022, oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico accounted for about 15% of total US crude oil production and about 2% of total US dry natural gas production, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Even the threat of a major storm can disrupt oil and natural gas supplies because companies often evacuate US Gulf platforms as a precaution.

21-Jun-2024

Canada chemical industry flags concerns about ‘greenwashing’ amendment

TORONTO (ICIS)–Canada’s chemical industry is concerned about the impacts from a legislative amendment to address “greenwashing”, an industry executive said on Friday. The amendment to the Competition Act, contained in an omnibus bill (Bill C-59), seeks to address claims about the environmental benefits of products. Importantly, it also seeks to address claims about the environmental benefits of a business or a business activity that are “not based on adequate and proper substantiation in accordance with internationally recognized methodology”. “Our view is that the clause as drafted is overbroad and will have unintended consequences,” Isabelle Des Chenes, vice president, policy, at trade group the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC), told ICIS in an emailed statement. The vagueness of the proposed amendment, combined with the threat of “strategic private actions” such as lawsuits, created  “substantial uncertainty about compliance standards and places the burden of proof on businesses for their claims”, she said. “This ambiguity and the threat of private actions may deter companies from making any environmental claims, which in turn will impact their ability to support the government’s climate goals and subsequently discourage responsible environmental action,” she said. She added that there is a lack of clarity about the meaning of "internationally recognized methodology". “It is well known that there are many different methodologies that have been recognized internationally for measuring environmental and ecological causes or effects of climate change,” she said. Given the diversity in methodologies, it is unclear how the Competition Bureau or the Competition Tribunal would apply this standard, she said. “This ambiguity could lead to ongoing compliance uncertainty and risk,” she said. Also, the lack of clarity would have important implications for environmental tools developed by the government, including the Clean Fuel Regulations Fuel Life Cycle Analysis model used to calculate carbon intensities or the National Pollution Release Inventory reporting tool, she said. “Industry relies on government tools to promote reduction and environmental benefits and at this time, industry is not sure these tools would meet ‘internationally recognized methodology’,”  Des Chenes said. On its website, the federal government cites a greenwashing example from the chemical industry: “For instance, a chemical company may brag about cleaning up its environmental damage in North America – but it remains silent about its new, polluting factories in India”. OIL INDUSTRY REACTS In Canada’s oil industry, ExxonMobil’s Canadian affiliate, Imperial Oil, said it fears the amendment may trigger “frivolous litigation”. A public disclosure standard “that is so vague as to lack meaning and that relies on undefined ‘internationally recognized methodology’ opens the door for frivolous litigation, particularly by private entities who will now be empowered to directly enforce this new provision of the Competition Act”, the company said. “This represents a serious threat to freedom of communication,” the company said. “The result of this legislation, which has been quickly put in place with little or no consultation, is to silence Canadian businesses taking climate action,” it added. Imperial, citing the amendment, also posted a “disclaimer” on its website with regard to its previous press releases and statements. Meanwhile, the Pathway Alliance – a coalition formed by six oil majors to reduce emissions in Canada’s oil sands industry through carbon capture and other methods – removed all content from its website and social media, citing uncertainty about how the amendment will be interpreted and applied. In Alberta province, which is home to most of Canada’s oil industry, the government said the amendment “would appear to be part of an agenda to create chaos and uncertainty for energy investors for the purpose of phasing out the energy industry altogether”. The Alberta government would explore legal options to challenge the amendment, it said. ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS Environmental groups, however, welcomed the amendment, saying it was a response to concerns that greenwashing "is a systemic problem in Canada”. The new rules were not limited to any one industry and could have an impact across the Canadian economy as “controversial claims such as ‘net zero’, ‘carbon neutral’, and ‘sustainable’ will come under closer scrutiny”, the groups said in a joint statement. They also welcomed the fact that the amendment would make it possible for “ordinary consumers” to enforce the rules by taking complaints directly to the Competition Tribunal. Legislators in other countries have also worked to address greenwashing or claims about companies’ ESG (environment, social, governance) performance. Thumbnail photo source: International Energy Agency

21-Jun-2024

ICIS Economic Summary: US growth easing along with labor market

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (ICIS)–It is a choppy outlook for the US economy, but much of the data is pointing to a moderate slowdown in growth, as expected. Job creation continues at an above-trend pace and even after ticking up to 4.0% in May, the unemployment rate is still at low levels. US job openings fell by 296,000 to 8.059 million in April (latest figure). This is equivalent to 1.2 job openings per unemployed. This is off from a year ago when job openings totaled 9.904 million. Overall labor market supply and demand relationships appear to be moving back towards pre-COVID levels. With a still healthy labor market, incomes are holding up for consumers and providing support for the US economy. On the inflation front, the headline May Consumer Price Index (CPI) was up 3.3% year on year and core CPI (excluding food and energy) was up 3.4%. Progress on disinflation has stabilized. Economists expect CPI inflation to average 3.2% this year, down from 4.1% in 2023 and 8.0% in 2022 – still above the Fed’s target. Inflation is expected to soften to 2.4% in 2025 and 2026. As a result, interest rate futures are now for one or two cuts. A case can even be made for no cuts. Turning to the production side of the economy, the May ISM Manufacturing PMI registered 48.7, down 0.5 points from April and a reading that was below expectations. A March expansionary reading had ended 16 months of contraction in manufacturing but May marks a second contractionary reading. One step forward, two steps back. Overall manufacturing production fell back to a barely positive reading. New orders slipped further back into contraction and order backlogs and inventories contracted at a faster pace. Only seven of the 18 industries expanded. Demand was soft again and was elusive, output was stable, and inputs stayed accommodative. Meanwhile the ISM Services PMI rebounded 4.4 points to 53.8, a reading indicating a good pace of expansion. The Manufacturing PMI for Canada remained in contraction during May while that for Mexico expanded for the eighth month. Brazil’s manufacturing PMI expanded for a fifth month. Eurozone manufacturing has been in contraction for 23 months, but the region’s economy appears to be expanding again. China’s manufacturing PMI was above breakeven levels for the seventh month. Other Asian PMIs appear to be improving. Turning to the demand side of the economy, US light vehicle sales rose again in May and although inventories have moved up in recent months, they still remain low. We expect light vehicle sales of 15.8 million this year, before improving to 16.3 million in 2025. We are above consensus among economists and expect sales of 17.3 million in 2026. This would bring activity back to the last cyclical peak of 17.2 million in 2018. Housing activity peaked in Spring 2022 and into mid-2023 with housing reports since being mixed. We expect that housing starts will average 1.44 million in 2024 and 1.50 million in 2025 – also above consensus among economists. We expect housing starts to improve to 1.56 million in 2026. Demographic factors are supporting activity during this cycle. There is significant pent-up demand for housing and a shortage of inventory. Affordability continues to be an issue. Nominal retail sales were weak during May and prior months were revised downward, suggesting consumers are facing inflation fatigue and guarding their purchases. Sales gains were mixed across segments. Sales at restaurants and bars also weakened. Spending may be slowing. Our ICIS leading barometer of the US business cycle has providing signals that the “rolling recession" scenario in manufacturing and transportation may be ending. The services sectors continue to expand, but at a slower pace. Real US GDP rose 5.8% in 2021 and then slowed to a 2.5% gain in 2022. The much-anticipated recession failed to emerge for a variety of reasons and in 2023 the economy expanded 2.5% again. US economic growth in Q1 2024 slowed from the rapid pace of Q3 and Q4 2023, but those gains will aid 2024 performance of an expected 2.3% gain. The slowdown in quarterly economic activity suggests that in GDP growth should be 1.8% in 2025 and 1.9% in 2026. The US once again is serving the critical role of global economic growth engine. The recent rate cut by the European Central Bank (ECB) should provide a small lift to Europe’s economy. China is struggling with soft economic activity and appears to be exporting its way out of the mire. India and to a lesser extent Japan, are showing signs of resilience as the major players in the world economy diverge.

21-Jun-2024

PODCAST: US petrochemical outlook with James Ray

BARCELONA (ICIS)–ICIS consultant James Ray describes how the shale gas revolution has benefitted the US economy and chemicals plus views on demand and the green transition. US shale gas revolution has helped entire economy Low energy costs key driver of economic growth Post-pandemic soaring demand, crimped supply pushed margins very high US chemicals margins have now normalised, companies profitable US construction market hurt by inflation, high interest rates US auto industry improving but inventory still high Companies, consumers less willing to pay green premium in tough times Economics, incentives drive US business decisions US incentives much more effective than Europe sanctions In this Think Tank podcast, Will Beacham interviews ICIS vice president of consulting James Ray,  ICIS Insight editor Nigel Davis, 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.

20-Jun-2024

Tropical Storm Alberto floods beaches amid storm surge, high tide, but plant ops unaffected so far

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, continues to push toward the Mexico coast and a combination of storm surge and high tides are already flooding some Texas coastal communities. But so far, ICIS has not heard of any instances of plants located along the US Gulf Coast ceasing operations. Alberto was about 295 miles (475 km) south southeast of Brownsville as of 18:00 GMT with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles/hour, as shown in the following image. Source: National Hurricane Center A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the Texas coast from San Luis Pass southward to the mouth of the Rio Grande River. Tropical storm warnings mean that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. The highest rainfall totals on Wednesday were just more than an inch south of Houston, with a total of 1.36 inches in La Porte, Texas, and 1.23 inches in Galveston. Storm chasers shared videos of inundated coastal communities on social media, including Surfside Beach, that were created by the storm surge ahead of Alberto and coinciding with high tides. Tides will be at the lowest this evening and at the highest early on Thursday morning, as shown in the following chart. Source: Tideschart.com Alberto is moving toward the west at 9 miles/hour. A westward motion with an increase in forward speed is expected through Thursday. The center of Alberto is forecast to reach the coast of northeastern Mexico early Thursday morning, as shown in the following map. Source: National Hurricane Center Some slight strengthening is forecast today or tonight before the center of Alberto reaches land. Rapid weakening is expected once the center moves inland, and Alberto is likely to dissipate over Mexico Thursday or Thursday night. Flash flood warnings are in effect for south and central Texas, as shown in the following map. Source: National Hurricane Center So far it does not appear that offshore oil and gas operations are being impacted. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) provides daily updates when storms lead to the evacuation of offshore production platforms. There was no update on Wednesday from BSEE. Production platforms are the offshore structures from which oil and natural gas are produced. Unlike drilling rigs, which can be moved, production facilities remain in the same location throughout a project’s duration. Another disturbance in the southwest Atlantic has a 20% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours, and only a 20% chance of formation in the next seven days. There is likely to be increased focus on US Gulf petchem production this summer as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting the greatest number of hurricanes in the agency’s history. NOAA forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center said that the hurricane season – which started on 1 June and runs through 30 November – has an 85% chance to be above normal, a 10% chance of being near normal and only a 5% chance of being below normal. The prediction of 17-25 named storms is the highest ever, topping the 14-23 predicted in 2010. A storm is named once it has sustained winds of 39 miles/hour. Damage from hurricanes can lead to increased demand for chemicals, but hurricanes and tropical storms can also disrupt the North American petrochemical industry because many of the nation's plants and refineries are along the US Gulf Coast in the states of Texas and Louisiana. In 2022, oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico accounted for about 15% of total US crude oil production and about 2% of total US dry natural gas production, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Even the threat of a major storm can disrupt oil and natural gas supplies because companies often evacuate US Gulf platforms as a precaution. Thumbnail image shows a map with Tropical Storm Alberto approaching the Mexico coast. Source: NHC

19-Jun-2024

PODCAST: UK election impact for hydrogen

LONDON (ICIS)–In this UK general election special, ICIS hydrogen editor speaks with Rob Dale, founder and director of UK consultancy Beyond2050, which aims at supporting market participants in achieving their energy and sustainability goals. Over the course of the episode, Jake and Rob review which parties have committed to hydrogen for the election and what makes this election the biggest for hydrogen so far.

19-Jun-2024

ICIS Energy Foresight

Identify new opportunities with an integrated analytics solution combining reliable, quantitative data and expert analysis. Offering a comprehensive, cross-commodity view of historic, current and future market conditions, featuring data models that are updated daily, optimise profitability with ICIS Energy Foresight.

Energy experts

Tom Marzec-Manser, Head of Gas Analytics

Tom leads ICIS qualitative analysis on European gas hubs and global LNG markets, promoting TTF as a global benchmark. Tom’s work supports the ICIS LNG Edge platform offering pre-trade analysis plus granular LNG supply-demand forecasts. 

Alice Casagni, European Spot Gas Editor

Alice’s specialist expertise lies in the gas pricing methodology that underpins ICIS gas assessments and indices, for which she is responsible. Alice joined ICIS in 2016 covering European gas markets including Italy and the Netherlands.

Ed Cox, Global LNG Editor

Ed manages the ICIS global LNG editorial team, analysing LNG markets at a granular level, from individual cargoes to broader trade flows and global trends. Ed joined the ICIS LNG team in 2014, prior to which he led ICIS European gas coverage.

Alex Froley, Senior LNG Analyst

Alex is a specialist in European gas and LNG, publishing regular commentary on LNG market trends. His team maintains and develops market fundamentals data on the ICIS LNG Edge platform, including real-time ship-tracking and import/export trade flows.

Barney Gray, Global Crude Oil Editor

Barney specialises in upstream oil and gas Exploration & Production and valuation modelling, with an extensive industry network. His role encompasses price discovery and insight, including managing ICIS tri-daily World Crude Report.

Aura Sabadus, Energy and Cross-Commodity Specialist

Aura works to develop integrated ICIS coverage of energy, petrochemicals and fertilizer markets, explaining the impact of energy price movements on energy-dependent sectors. She also covers emerging gas markets including the Black Sea region. ​

Jake Stones, Global Hydrogen Editor

Jake leads on price discovery for hydrogen as a tradeable commodity, engaging with European energy market participants to refine ICIS’ hydrogen pricing methodology. ​Jake joined ICIS in 2019 as a UK gas market reporter, moving to hydrogen in 2020.

Matt Jones, Head of Power Analytics

Matt overseas the output of ICIS’ power team across 28 European markets, from short-term developments to long-term forecasting out to 2050. ​He provides quantitative and qualitative analysis, with particular focus on EU regulatory developments. ​

Lewis Unstead, Senior Analyst, EU Carbon

Lewis is an expert on EU and UK ETS legislation and market design, regularly advising ETS compliance players and market regulators. He manages ICIS‘ weekly and monthly carbon commentary, analysing carbon’s interplay with wider energy markets.

Andreas Schroeder, Head of Energy Analytics

Andreas is responsible for quantitative modelling and data-based analysis products within ICIS’ energy offer, covering carbon, power, gas, LNG and hydrogen. His expertise lies in energy economics, focusing on traded energy commodities.

Matteo Mazzoni, Director of Energy Analytics

Matteo has extensive analytics expertise in power, gas, carbon and energy planning. Matteo has responsibility for ICIS energy analytics strategy and operations including research and analysis, product ideation and development, and market engagement.​

Jamie Stewart, Managing Editor, Energy

Jamie manages ICIS’ 50-strong energy editorial team, covering European gas, power and hydrogen markets alongside global LNG and crude oil. Jamie is responsible for ICIS’ coverage of energy news, analysis, price assessments and indices.

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