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MOVES: Brazil’s Unipar CFO resigns
SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Unipar’s CFO Antonio Campos Rabello has handed in his resignation, effective 29 February, the Brazilian chemicals producer said late on Tuesday. Campos Rabello was also Unipar’s investor relations officer. The company’s executive industrial officer, Rodrigo Cannaval, will temporarily assume the position of Investor Relations Officer, said Unipar. “The company would like to thank Rabello for his management work, especially as to the preparation of a capital structure adequate for the company’s expansion plans, enabling access to several financing sources in terms of currency, financial institutions and markets, as well as the analysis and structuring of growth opportunities,” said Unipar. Earlier this week, Unipar said it was mulling a joint acquisition with Brazilian chemicals producer Innova, without disclosing more details. According to a report by Brazilian daily O Globo, the two companies would be looking at an acquisition in the US of around $700 million.
BLOG: How Europe can avoid 'sleepwalking' towards offshoring of petrochemicals
SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson: The European petrochemicals industry, to borrow Jim Ratcliffe’s phrase, does not have to continue “sleepwalking towards offshoring its industry, jobs, investments, and emissions”. Ratcliffe, the INEOS chairman, was on the money with the phrase, contained in a call-to-action letter to European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, earlier this month. This came in the same week that producers launched the Antwerp Declaration for a European Industrial Deal. This is all great news for the European industry as my two scenarios for global petrochemicals in 2030 – Supermajors or Deglobalisation – will be shaped by the actions of companies and legislators. In Europe, the threat of a further flood of competitively priced and lower-carbon imports of polymers risks lost local jobs in refining, petrochemicals and downstream (the downstream jobs being many more than upstream). And if petrochemicals plants shut plant, upstream refineries important for local fuels supply may be threatened. You can also make a case for recycling targets being hard to achieve under Supermajors. As well as lobbying legislators, what else can European producers do? Here are my suggestions: Companies need to “make their own demand” by more forcefully arguing the case for the societal and environmental value of what they produce (while, of course, also ensuring that what they produce has strong social and environmental values!). A deeper dive into the opportunities in different end-use markets and geographies is the key. Let’s take wire-and-cable grade low-density PE (LDPE) as an example. A lot more electricity transmission in Europe will have to be built to distribute renewable energy, which of course is an environmental gain and elsewhere in the world. Could European wire-and-cable LDPE producers be a leader in providing product to Africa? This is a very different approach than during the 1993-2021 Supercycle, when booming demand was guaranteed. All producers had to do as ensure there was enough supply, preferably with low feedstock costs and efficient logistics. 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.
Saudi SABIC swings to net loss in 2023 on Hadeed sale, challenging market
SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi Arabia’s chemicals major SABIC swung to a net loss of Saudi riyal (SR) 2.77bn ($739m) in 2023, largely due to one-off losses related to a divestment, while earnings from continued operations shrank amid challenging global market conditions. in Saudi Riyal (SR) bn 2023 2022 % Change Revenue 141.5 183.1 -22.7 EBITDA 19.0 36.4 -47.7 Net income from continuing operations 1.3 15.8 -91.8 Net income attributable to equity holders of the parent -2.8 16.5 – The company's net loss for 2023 was "driven mainly from the fair valuation of the Saudi Iron and Steel Co (Hadeed) business", SABIC in a filing to the Saudi bourse Tadawul on 27 February. In early September 2023, SABIC announced it had agreed to sell its entire stake in the Saudi Iron and Steel Co (Hadeed) to Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund for SR12.5bn. The sale resulted in non-cash losses worth SR2.93bn. From continuing operation, full-year net income declined by 91.8% on reduced profit margins for major products, as well as lower earnings of joint ventures and associated firms. SABIC also incurred charges from non-recurring items amounting to SR3.47bn in 2023,“as a result of impairment charges and write-offs of certain capital and financial assets as well as provisions for the restructuring program in Europe and constructive obligations”. Meanwhile, SABIC’s average product sales price in 2023 fell by 21%, reflecting the global downturn in petrochemical markets, it said. Overall sales volumes fell by 2% year on year in 2023 amid sluggish end-user demand, the company said. "Year 2023 presented numerous challenges for the petrochemical industry – the market environment was shaped by lackluster macroeconomic sentiment, weak end-user demand, and a wave of incremental supply for a large suite of products," it said. The company's petrochemicals business posted a 20% year-on-year decline in sales to SR131.3bn in 2023, with EBITDA down by 42% at SR14.6bn. "The petrochemical industry navigates a challenging operating environment – underwhelming demand within our target markets led to lower year end product prices and there remains considerable uncertainty heading into the first quarter of 2024," SABIC CEO Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh said. "The announced divestment of Hadeed is proceeding as planned – this optimization of internal resources will enhance our core focus on petrochemicals," he said. SABIC is also pursuing a number of initiatives to address the "competiveness of our European assets" aimed at a "maintainable and modernized footprint in the region", Al-Fageeh added. The company plans a higher capital expenditure of between $4bn and 5bn in 2024, compared with $3.5bn-3.8bn last year. SABIC has started construction of its $6.4bn manufacturing complex in China’s southern Fujian province. The project will include a mixed-feed steam cracker with up to 1.8m tonne/year ethylene (C2) capacity and various downstream units producing ethylene glycols (EG), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polycarbonate (PC), among other products. SABIC is 70%-owned by energy giant Saudi Aramco. ($1 = SR3.75)
European Commission calls for member states to maintain gas demand cuts
LONDON (ICIS)–The European Commission on Tuesday urged member states to maintain current gas consumption reductions as the expiration date of emergency legislation mandating the cuts approaches. Introduced in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent scramble in the EU to reduce its exposure to natural gas supplies from the country, the two-year emergency bill called for EU countries to reduce gas consumption by 15% compared to April 2017 – March 2022 averages to shore up limited reserves. According to the Commission, governments collectively reduced demand by 18% between August 2022 and December 2023, with efforts to reduce consumption driven by soaring prices in the winter of 2022 that led to the introduction of price caps in the EU and by some individual member states. ENERGY IMPACT Prior to the onset of the war, the EU derived over half of its supplies of natural gas, which had been embraced as a means of lowering CO2 emissions, particularly following Germany’s move to phase out nuclear energy. Gas had surged from under $200 per metric million British thermal units (/MMBtu) at the start of the 2022 to over $1,700 in October of that year. Pricing has subsided since then but energy pricing remains a concern, particularly for energy intensive industries. Citing energy costs as a key factor behind a decision to push for drastic cuts at its Germany headquarters, BASF stated that 2023 natural gas pricing in Europe remained twice the 2019-21 average and five times US Henry Hub averages, although prices have fallen this year. BASF’s move to scale back its Ludwigshafen Verbund complex was attributed by CEO Martin Brudermuller to what he termed temporary factors such as demand, and other drivers such as higher energy costs, which he claimed are “structural” in Europe. FUTURE PROPOSALS The current emergency legislation is set to expire on 31 March this year, but the European Commission is proposing to adopt a Council recommendation calling for member states to maintain the voluntary reductions that have been adopted over the last two years. The target would be to maintain gas consumption at 15% below 2017-22 averages, the Commission said, with Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson and EU energy ministers to discuss the measure on 4 March. Despite a more stable European gas market outlook and less volatile pricing, tight global markets and geopolitical upheaval mean that EU economies need to remain vigilant, according to a Commission statement. "The persistence of geopolitical tensions, tight global gas markets and the EU's objective to completely get rid of Russian fossil fuels, continued energy savings are still necessary," the Commission said. Thumbnail photo source: Hollandse Hoogte/Shutterstock
Japan January inflation at 2.0%; end to negative interest rates in sight
SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan's core consumer inflation in January rose by 2.0%, matching the Bank of Japan's (BoJ) price stability target and supporting expectations that the central bank will end its ultra-low interest rates policy by April. Consumer inflation at lowest since March 2022 BoJ’s benchmark interest rate at -0.1% since Jan 2016 Weaker yen drives up import costs The core consumer price index (CPI) – which excludes volatile fresh food prices – in January weakened from 2.3% in the previous month, marking its third straight month that the country's inflation has slowed, data from the Statistics Bureau showed on Tuesday. January's core CPI reading also marks its lowest point since March 2022 as cost of imported raw materials decreased but the number came in higher than market expectations. "[BoJ] Governor Kazuo Ueda has expressed confidence of anchoring inflation above the government’s target of 2% and inflation reading is expected to pick up in February as the impact from the government’s price relief measures fades on a year-on-year basis, boosting market expectations that the BOJ is nearing the end of its ultra-loose monetary policy soon," Malaysia-based HongLeong Bank said in a research note on Tuesday. The sharp depreciation of the yen has caused Japan's import bill to soar. At 03:45 GMT, the yen was trading at Y150.48 against the US dollar, down by more than 6% from the start of the year. Source: xe.com Japan relies significantly on imported crude oil as it lacks substantial domestic production. About 80-90% of its crude oil imports are sourced from the Middle East, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). While the country’s domestic refineries can satisfy demand for transportation fuels, it imports liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and naphtha heavily as domestic production does not meet the required levels. ALL EYES ON BOJ The BoJ is widely expected to end its negative interest policy, introduced in January 2016, by April this year. The policy was kept for years to stimulate credit growth and investment, in the central bank’s fight against deflation. In its latest meeting in January, the central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at -0.1%, but its quarterly economic report hinted at possible policy normalisation. For the whole of 2023, Japan’s consumer inflation posted an annualized average of 3.1%, up from the previous year’s 2.3% average and the highest recorded since 1982, because of the weaker yen, which made imports more expensive. Despite BoJ officials' confidence in hitting the 2% inflation target, recent data undermines this view following two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction due to weak consumption. Japan’s economy shrank by an annualised rate of 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2023, following a 2.9% contraction in the July-September period. For the whole of 2023, it posted a 1.9% growth. Because of the recession in the second half of last year, the country was overtaken by Germany as the third-biggest economy in the world. "The challenging growth outlook for Japan adds further risk to a delay to our projected timeline for BOJ normalisation in 2024," Singapore-based UOB Global Economics & Markets Research said. "That said, we still expect BOJ’s normalisation to commence only after 2024’s Shunto Spring wage negotiations between major corporations and unions which takes place around March," it added. Shunto is the Japanese term for “spring wage offensive”. The season, which is typically between February and April, refers to a period when thousands of Japanese labor unions simultaneously negotiate wages and working conditions with their employers. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman Thumbnail image: Large container cranes stand at a port in Tokyo, Japan on 15 February 2024. (FRANCK ROBICHON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
Americas top stories: weekly summary
HOUSTON (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News from the week ended 23 February. LyondellBasell to lease California plant to produce recycled resins from waste LyondellBasell has acquired a recycling plant in California from PreZero in which it plans to produce post-consumer recycled resins from plastic waste, the US chemicals major said on Tuesday. Brazil’s Unigel gets green light from creditors for debt restructuring Unigel has agreed a Brazilian reais (R) 3.9 billion ($791 million) debt restructuring with its creditors, which has saved the beleaguered styrenics, acrylics and fertilizer producer from filing for bankruptcy for the time being. Mexico's Orbia to pause PVC investments after weak Q4 results Orbia will be pausing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) capacity expansion due to weak market economics which weighed on its 2023 earnings, the Mexico-based producer said. US Huntsman expects gradual recovery, seeks to boost prices and volume Huntsman expects a gradual recovery to take hold in 2024, in which the company will attempt to pursue higher prices and recover share, the CEO said on Thursday. Pembina to supply Dow Canada net-zero petchem project with ethane Canadian midstream energy firm Pembina Pipeline has entered into long-term agreements to supply Dow’s upcoming net-zero petrochemicals project at Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta province with 50,000 bbl/day of ethane.
TOPIC PAGE: Sustainability in the fertilizers industry
Updated on 26 February. On this topic page, we gather the latest news, analysis and resources, to help you to keep track of developments in the area of sustainability in the fertilizers industry. LATEST NEWS HEADLINES Germany’s Heraeus invests in Japanese ammonia tech company By Stefan Baumgarten 22-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–German technology group Heraeus has invested an undisclosed amount in Tsubame BHB, a Japanese company that has developed a precious metal-based technology for decentralized ammonia production. Malaysia’s PCG, Sarawak Petchem agree to study low-carbon ammonia and urea plant By Nurluqman Suratman 21-Feb-24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Malaysia’s PETRONAS Chemicals Group (PCG) and methanol producer Sarawak Petchem on Wednesday signed an agreement for a joint feasibility study aimed at establishing a low-carbon ammonia and urea production facility in Bintulu, Sarawak. Egypt’s Helwan signs agreement to produce black urea By Deepika Thapliyal 20-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–In Egypt, Helwan has signed an agreement with SML-INNO UK Ltd to set up the world's first vertical integrated unit to produce black urea, with a capacity of 130,000 tonnes annually, the company said today. EU eases climate proposals after widespread farmer protests By Chris Vlachopoulos 07-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Tuesday that the EU has agreed to ease key demands in its climate proposal plans, following intense protests from farmers. Tecnimont awarded engineering contract for Portugal green hydrogen, ammonia plant By Graeme Paterson 05-Feb-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Tecnimont has been awarded an engineering contract to develop an integrated green hydrogen and green ammonia plant at Sines, Portugal, its parent company Maire said on Monday. EU proposes relaxation in policy following farmer protests By Deepika Thapliyal 31-Jan-24 LONDON (ICIS)–The European Commission Wednesday proposed relaxing green farming requirements under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in its first attempt to quell farmer protests across Europe as the sector struggles to stay economically viable. Biden Administration invests $207m in domestic fertilizer and clean energy endeavours By Chris Vlachopoulos 23-Jan-24 LONDON (ICIS)–The Biden Administration is investing $207m in domestic fertilizer and renewable energy projects, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Monday, 22 January. Brazil’s state of Ceara, Bp sign MoU for green hydrogen site By Jonathan Lopez 18-Jan-24 SAO PAULO (ICIS)–The government of the Brazilian state of Ceara and UK-headquartered energy major Bp signed this week a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to build a green hydrogen site. Atome Energy in talks with buyers for green fertilizer from Paraguay unit By Manuja Pandey 17-Jan-24 LONDON (ICIS)–UK's Atome Energy Plc is in advanced negotiations with leading international players for the offtake of green calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) fertiliser from its production facility in Villeta, Paraguay. Sweden's Cinis targets Asia potash market with Itochu partnership By Andy Hemphill 16-Jan-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Swedish green-tech start-up Cinis Fertilizer has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Japan-headquartered trading house Itochu to launch its environmentally-friendly mineral fertilizer in the Asian market. Helwan selects Eurotecnica's Euromel G5 technology for new melamine facility in Egypt By Melissa Hurley 15-Jan-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Eurotecnica has been selected by Helwan Fertilizers Company (HFC) for the implementation of a world-scale melamine plant based on proprietary Euromel G5 melamine technology, the technology arm of Switzerland's Proman said on Monday. India’s Adani Group plans $24bn green energy park; RIL to commission giga complex By Priya Jestin 12-Jan-24 MUMBAI (ICIS)–India’s western Gujarat state is set to become the domestic hub of green energy projects following an announcement by the Adani Group to set up a large green energy park and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) set to commission its giga complex in the state soon. INPEX and LSB pick technology for US ammonia project By Stefan Baumgarten 10-Jan-24 HOUSTON (ICIS)–INPEX Corp and LSB Industries have chosen KBR’s blue ammonia technology for a planned 1.1m tonne/year low-carbon ammonia project on the US Gulf Coast, KBR said on Wednesday. Bayer partners with energy firms on hydrogen cluster in Germany By Stefan Baumgarten 09-Jan-24 LONDON (ICIS)–Pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals company Bayer has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with three energy firms – E.ON, Iqony and Westenergie – to establish a hydrogen cluster at its Bergkamen production site near Dortmund, at the eastern edge of Germany's Ruhr industrial region. At the core of the project will be the production of green hydrogen from imported ammonia. S Korean group picks KBR tech for Malaysian green ammonia project By Al Greenwood 08-Jan-24 HOUSTON (ICIS)–A South Korean consortium has chosen KBR's K-GreeN process technology for a green ammonia project that it will develop in Sarawak, Malaysia, the US-based engineering company said on Monday. Abu Qir signs MoU for green ammonia project in Egypt By Sylvia Traganida 03-Jan-24 LONDON (ICIS)–North Abu Qir for Agricultural Nutrients has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ABB International Group, MPS Infrastructure Company, and Petrojet for the supply of green hydrogen and renewable electricity. EU CARBON BORDER ADJUSTMENT MECHANISM (CBAM) EXPLAINED What is it? The risk of carbon leakage frustrates the EU’s efforts to meet climate objectives. It occurs when companies transfer production to countries that are less strict on emissions, or when EU products are replaced by more carbon-intensive imports. This new mechanism would counteract this risk by putting a carbon price on imports of certain goods from outside of the EU. How will it work? EU importers will buy carbon certificates corresponding to the carbon price that would have been paid, had the goods been produced under the EU's carbon pricing rules. Conversely, once a non-EU producer can show that they have already paid a price for the carbon used in the production of the imported goods, the corresponding cost can be fully deducted for the EU importer. This will help reduce the risk of carbon leakage by encouraging producers in non-EU countries to make their production processes greener. A reporting system will apply from 2023 with the objective of facilitating a smooth roll out and to facilitate dialogue with non-EU countries. Importers will start paying a financial adjustment in 2026. How is the fertilizer industry affected? The fertilizer industry is one of the sectors to fall under the CBAM. The more energy-intensive nitrogen fertilizers will be affected most in the sector by the mechanism. DEFRA CONSULTATIONS EXPLAINED The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) launched a consultation at the beginning of November 2020 on reducing ammonia emissions from urea fertilizers. The consultation ran until 26 January 2021. It set out three options for tackling ammonia emissions: A total ban on solid urea fertilizers A requirement to stabilise solid urea fertilizers with the addition of a urease inhibitor. A requirement to restrict the spreading of solid urea fertilizers to between 15 January and 31 March of a given year. Liquid urea is excluded from any new rules or restrictions. DEFRA is currently analysing the feedback received. In March 2022, DEFRA announced that it had delayed introducing restrictions on the use of urea by at least a year to support farmers with fertilizer availability and keep their costs down Should DEFRA decide to restrict the use of urea in the future, growers would be left with just ammonium nitrate-based fertilizers. PREVIOUS NEWS HEADLINES Yara aims to launch first container ship to run off clean ammonia India’s Odisha state approves green hydrogen, ammonia, methanol projects ADM announces launch of regenerative agriculture program in Brazil Fertiglobe completes first renewable ammonia shipment with carbon certification Allied Green Ammonia picks Topsoe’s tech for Australia project Germany’s VNG looks to secure offtake from Norwegian low carbon ammonia plant Gentari enters into agreement with AM Green to invest into a green ammonia delivery platform ITOCHU Corporation, Orascom Construction sign MOU for development of ammonia bunkering in Suez Canal India developing port infrastructure for green hydrogen exports S Korea, Saudi Arabia firms sign 46 pacts, includes blue ammonia project INSIGHT: CBAM reporting begins, fertilizer exporters to EU challenged to account for carbon KBR to supply green ammonia tech to Madoqua Power2X site in Portugal Germany’s SOM to build green hydrogen, ammonia facility in Brazil’s Piaui state US ADM and Syngenta sign MoU to collaborate on low carbon oilseeds to meet biofuel demand Tecnicas Reunidas, Allied Green Ammonia to build green hydrogen and green ammonia plant in Australia Australian fertilizer producer Orica accelerates climate change targets Nestle, Cargill and CCm Technologies launch joint UK trial on sustainable fertilizer EnBW acquires stake in planned Norwegian ammonia plant Yara Germany signs agreement for decarbonisation of cereal cultivation using green fertilizers Hyphen, ITOCHU ink MoU to explore potential Namibia hydrogen collaboration INSIGHT: BASF grapples with demand trough, slow road back SABIC AN ships low-carbon urea to New Zealand US Cargill and John Deere collaborate to enable revenue for farmers adopting sustainability Canada’s Lucent Bio announces approval of biodegradable nutrient delivery patent Aker, Statkraft’s 10-year PPA to spur European renewable ammonia push further BASF, Yara Clean Ammonia to evaluate low-carbon blue ammonia production facility in US Gulf Coast Yara Clean Ammonia, Cepsa to launch clean hydrogen maritime corridor EU details CBAM reporting obligations Saudi Arabia’s Ma’aden exports its first low-carbon blue ammonia shipments to China US Bunge and Nutrien Ag announce alliance to support sustainable farming practices Maire subsidiary Stamicarbon wins US green ammonia engineering contract India’s IFFCO launches liquid nano-DAP fertilizer EU Parliament backs CBAM, emissions trading measures OCP granted €100m green loan to build solar plants at Morocco facilities EU unveils plans to tackle greenwashing India’s IFFCO and CIL to manufacture nano DAP for three years USDA awards Ostara funds to boost sustainable phosphate fertilizer output Canadian prime minister confirms fertilizer emission goal is voluntary US fertilizers industry increases carbon capture in 2021 – TFI Indian president calls for reduction in chemical fertilizer use IFFCO plans to export nano urea to 25 countries Amman selects Elessent Clean Technologies for Indonesia sulphuric acid plant Lotte Chemical forms clean ammonia consultative body with RWE and Mitsubishi Corporation Global 2020-2021 specialty fertilizer demand growth led by north America, Asia BASF and Cargill extend enzymes business and distribution to US Saudi Aramco awards sulphur facilities overhaul contract to Technip India sets green hydrogen targets for shipping, oil & gas, fertilizer sectors Germany misses climate target despite lower energy consumption TFI reacts to US Congress passing the Water Resources Development ActHelm becomes a shareholder in UK bio-fertilizer company Unium Bioscience Yara inks deal to deliver fossil-free green fertilizers to Argentina Canadian firms plan fuel cell generator pilot using green ammonia Deepak Fertilizers awards contract to reduce emissions, increase productivity Saudi Aramco launches $1.5bn sustainability fund to support net zero ambition CF Industries and ExxonMobil plan CCS project in Louisiana Canada’s plan to cut fertilizer emissions is voluntary – minister Canada’s fertilizer emission goal raises food production concerns Uniper, Vesta to cooperate on renewable ammonia site in the Netherlands German Uniper to work with Japan’s JERA on US clean ammonia projects ADNOC ships first cargo of low-carbon ammonia to Germany US Mosaic and BioConsortia expand collaboration to microbial biostimulant IMO deems Mediterranean Sea area for sulphur oxides emissions control Canada's Soilgenic launches new enhanced efficiency fertilizers technology for retail Austria's Borealis aims to produce 1.8m tonnes/year of circular products by 2030 European Parliament rejects proposed carbon market reform IFA ’22: southern Africa looks to bio-fertilizer as cheaper, sustainable option IFA '22: Indian farmers will struggle to embrace specialty fertilizers – producer Canadian Nutrien plans to build world’s largest clean ammonia facility in Louisiana Japan's JGC Holdings awards green ammonia plant contract to KBR Bayer to partner with Ginkgo to produce sustainable fertilizers Australia Orica and H2U Group partner on Gladstone green ammonia project Canada sets tax credit of up to 60% for carbon capture projects UK delays urea restrictions to support farmers as fertilizer costs at record high EU states agree to back carbon border tax Yara to develop novel green fertilizer from recycled nutrients USDA announces plans for $250m grant programme to support American-made fertilizer Canada seeks guidance to achieve fertilizer emissions target Fertilizer titan Pupuk Indonesia develops hydrogen/blue ammonia business India launches green hydrogen/ammonia policy, targets exports Canada AmmPower to develop green hydrogen and ammonia facility in Louisiana US DOE awards grant to project to recover rare earth elements from phosphate production Fertiglobe, Masdar, Engie to develop green hydrogen for ammonia production Czech Republic’s Spolana enhances granular AS production India’s Reliance to invest $80bn in green energy projects Yara, Sweden’s Lantmannen aim to commercialise green ammonia by 2023 Novatek and Uniper target Russia to Germany blue-ammonia supply chain Fertz giant Yara goes green with electrification of Norwegian factoryCanada Arianne Phosphate exploring use of phosphate for hydrogen technology FAO and IFA renew MoU to promote sustainable fertilizer use Sumitomo Chemical, Yara to explore clean ammonia collaboration Sri Lanka revokes ban on imports Tokyo scientists convert bioplastic into nitrogen fertilizer Aramco plans Saudi green hydrogen, ammonia project China announces action plan for carbon peaking & neutrality Saudi Aramco targets net zero emissions from operations by 2050 Fertiglobe goes green with Red Sea zero-carbon ammonia pro Australian fertilizer major Incitec Pivot teams up for green ammonia study INTERVIEW: BASF to scale up new decarbonisation tech in second half of decade – CEO India asks fertilizer companies to speed up production of nano DAP Japan's Itochu set to receive first cargo of blue ammonia for fertilizer use Norway's Yara acquires recycled fertilizers maker Ecolan Bayer Funds US start-up aims to cut nitrogen fertilizer use by 30% BP: Green ammonia production in Australia feasible, but needs huge investment Origin and MOL explore shipping green ammonia from Australia India’s IFFCO seeks to export nano urea fertilizer Sri Lanka reinstates ban on import of chemical fertilizers Nutrien to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030 RESOURCES IFA – Fertilizers and climate change TFI – Sustainability report
UAE’s ADQ-led consortium to invest $35bn in Egypt
SINGAPORE (ICIS)–A consortium led by UAE’s ADQ, an Abu Dhabi-based investment and holding company, plans to invest $35bn in Egypt, inclusive of the $24bn rights to develop the coastal region of Ras El-Hekma. The remaining $11bn will be invested in other prime real estate projects in the north African country, ADQ said on 23 February. The 170m-square metre Ras El-Hekma in Egypt is envisioned to be a mixture of a holiday destination, financial centre and free zone in the Mediterranean. Work on the project is expected to begin in early 2025, with the Egyptian government retaining a 35% stake in the development, ADQ said. “This investment underscores our commitment to developing Ras El-Hekma into one of Egypt’s most attractive coastal destinations through the enablement of mega-infrastructure and development projects, working with partners such as Modon Properties and Talaat Moustafa Group, which will deliver value across multiple sectors of Egypt’s vibrant economy,” ADQ managing director and CEO Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi said. Modon Properties is based in the UAE while Talaat Moustafa is a major property developer in Egypt. Ras El-Hekma is expected to attract more than $150bn in investments over time, ADQ said. The site is designed to “attract foreign direct investment, boost trade, support Egypt’s private sector via an in-country localization program and drive job creation to maximize economic benefits,” ADQ said. Visit the ICIS construction topic page for analysis of the impact on chemical markets and links to latest news
CDI Economic Summary: US Fed rate cuts delayed on sticky inflation, economic resilience
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (ICIS)–With disinflation having stalled above the US Federal Reserve’s targeted rate, Wall Street expectations of six rate cuts this year have evaporated. Interest rate futures are now moving towards fewer cuts and along the lines the latest Fed “dot plots” of three cuts this year. Any cuts that were to emerge will not happen until May or June. Starting with the production side of the economy, the January ISM US Manufacturing PMI registered 49.1, up 2 points from December and the 15th month in contraction. Only four industries out of 18 expanded, and weakness remains broad-based. But production moved back into expansion, as did new orders. The latter featured a 5.5-point gain to a positive 52.5 reading. This is always a good sign. Order backlogs contracted, however, at a faster pace. Both new orders and order backlogs, when combined with the reading on inventories, are good indicators of future activity. Inventories contracted, which could provide a floor for output. The long and deep de-stocking cycle could be ending, with the possibility for restocking this year. Meanwhile, the ISM US Services PMI improved 2.9 points to 53.4, a reading indicating modest expansion. The Manufacturing PMI for Canada remained in contraction during January while Mexico expanded. Brazil’s manufacturing PMI improved into expansion. Euro Area manufacturing has been in contraction for 18 months, and the region continues to skirt recession. China’s manufacturing PMI was slightly above breakeven levels for the third month, as its recovery continues to face headwinds. Other Asian PMIs were mixed. AUTO AND HOUSING OUTLOOKTurning to the demand side of the economy, light vehicle sales slumped in January due to severe winter weather. This allowed inventories to move up, but they still remain low compared to historical norms. Economists see light vehicle sales of 15.9 million this year before improving to 16.3 million in 2025. The latest cyclical peak was 17.2 million in 2018. Pent-up demand continues to provide support for this market. Homebuilder confidence remains in negative territory but is improving. Housing activity peaked in Spring 2022 and into mid-2023, with the latest housing reports being mixed. We expect that housing starts will average 1.42 million in 2024 and 1.48 million in 2025. We are above the consensus among economists. Demographic factors are supporting housing activity during this cycle. There’s significant pent-up demand for housing and a shortage of inventory. Falling mortgage interest rates will also support affordability and thus demand. RETAIL SALES FALLWith severe winter weather in much of the nation, nominal retail sales fell back in January. Sales were weak across most segments, but sales at restaurants and bars advanced. Spending for services is holding up, but the overall pace is slowing. Job creation continues at a good pace, and the unemployment rate is still at low levels. There are 1.4 vacancies per unemployed worker. This is off from a year ago but at a historically elevated level, which is still fostering wage pressures in services. Incomes are still holding up for consumers. INFLATION STILL HIGH BUT WILL EASEThe headline January Consumer Price Index (CPI) was up 3.1% year on year and core CPI (excluding food and energy) was up 3.9%. Progress on disinflation has been made but appears to be stabilizing. Economists expect inflation to average 2.7% this year, down from 4.1% in 2023 and 8.0% in 2022. Inflation is expected to soften further to 2.3% in 2025. Our ICIS leading barometer of the US business cycle has provided a signal consistent with the “rolling recession” scenario in manufacturing and transportation. The services sectors, however, continue to expand but are slowing. Recent readings show stabilization in this leading index, which is encouraging. US GDP FORECAST POINTS TO SOFT LANDINGAfter real GDP rose 5.8% in 2021 and then slowed to a 2.5% gain in 2022, the much-anticipated recession failed to materialize. In 2023, the economy expanded by 2.5% again. US economic growth is slowing from the rapid pace of Q3 and Q4, but those gains will aid 2024 performance which is showing a 2.1% gain. A cyclical slowdown in economic activity is occurring in 2025, economic growth should average 1.7% for the year. WEAKER OUTLOOK FOR EUROPE, CHINALooking overseas, recent global indicators show slow economic growth and soft commodity prices. Europe is skirting a shallow recession. The conflict affecting Red Sea seaborne trade adds to supply chain disruptions, costs and uncertainty for the region. Within the context of demographic headwinds, continued property sector woes and soft export markets, China’s economy has lost momentum. The government and Bank of China are responding with stimulus measures. For more updates and interactive charts, visit our ICIS Topic Page – Macroeconomic Outlook: Impact on Chemicals
Equinor's H2H Saltend hydrogen project granted planning permission
600MW low carbon plant located in Northeast England Potential application for Cluster Sequencing Track-1 Expansion Site due to be operational by the end of the decade LONDON (ICIS)–Equinor's H2H Saltend low carbon hydrogen project has been granted planning permission by East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the company said in a press release 20 February. The plant is due to have a capacity of 600MW with carbon capture technology applied and is slated to begin commercial operations by the end of the decade. Equinor said that this was a major step forward for the project, with a potential application being prepared into the UK government's upcoming Cluster Sequencing Track-1 Expansion process which is due to launch later this year as part of the East Coast Cluster. The hydrogen set to be produced is expected to be used in chemical processes by nearby companies, as well as being blended with natural gas at the Triton power station, with 900,000 tonnes/year of CO2 expected to be stored in sub-sea aquifers. The H2H Saltend project is part of Equinor's Hydrogen to Humber ambition, which is forecast to produce 1.8GW of low carbon hydrogen within the region by 2030. The UK has ambitions to have 10GW of hydrogen capacity up and running by 2030, of which a maximum of 5GW will be low carbon hydrogen with the remainder being electrolytic hydrogen. Data from ICIS Analytics showed that UK hydrogen demand is due to increase from 21TWh this year to 72TWh by 2030, of which the chemicals sector is forecast to account for 20TWh (28%) of total UK hydrogen demand.
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