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INSIGHT: Chem M&A outlook brightens amid surge of deal announcements

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Chemical companies have started the first half of 2024 announcing potential sales and separations of several businesses, which could lead up to busy cycle for mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Sustainability continues to influence M&A decisions, although it will unlikely lead to any large acquisitions. Private equity firms could play a larger role in M&A despite higher interest rates because financial investors have plenty of money. Electronic materials could be another M&A trend because of government incentives for the semiconductor industry. CHEMS EXPECT MORE M&AMore than half of the chemical executives who participated in a survey expect M&A activity to increase in the next 12-18 months, according to Kearney, a consulting firm that conducts an annual report about deal-making in the industry. By contrast, 18% expect M&A activity to decrease, and 32% expect activity to be roughly stable. The sentiment is more positive than surveys from the past few years, said Andy Walberer, partner and global chemicals lead at global strategy and management consultancy Kearney. He made his comments while discussing Kearney's recent M&A report. Part of that optimism comes from the divestment plans and strategic reviews recently announced by chemical companies, he said. Also, executives at chemical companies are no longer contending with the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent supply-chain disruptions. They have the headspace to think about medium- and long-term strategy, he said. SUSTAINABILITY CONTINUES INFLUENCING DEALSSustainability will unlikely lead to high-dollar deals, but it will still be a noteworthy trend, Walberer said. Chemical companies are scrambling to secure supplies of recycled and renewable feedstock. Chemical executives and Kearney have noted the gap between supply and demand for sustainable feedstock. To secure feedstock, companies have been establishing partnerships or acquiring businesses. Walberer expects that trend to continue. In other cases, chemical companies are making sustainability M&A decisions in response to government incentives and regulations, Walberer said. Kearney has seen some companies divest sections of portfolios because of high carbon emissions, Walberer said. PRIVATE EQUITY HAS PLENTY OF DRY POWDERHigher interest rates have made M&A more challenging for private equity firms because of their traditional reliance on debt-financed acquisitions. That said, private equity firms have built up large stashes of dry powder. They could put that money to work without debt, which has become more expensive because of higher interest rates. At the same time, chemical valuations have fallen. "We see PE very active," Walberer said. Walberer noted that financial investors made up 26% of chemical deals in 2023, up from 7% in 2022 and above the historic range of 15-20%. In particular, private equity firms may acquire some of the infrastructure assets that chemical companies are eager to divest. Dow had expressed interest in selling more of its infrastructure after agreeing to divest its rail assets at six sites in mid-2020. Recent and upcoming carveouts could provide private equity firms with more M&A opportunities. In December 2023, Solvay carved out its specialty business, called Syensqo, from its mostly commodity business. DuPont expects to complete its breakup into three companies in the next 18-24 months. CHANGING OUTLOOK FOR EUROPEEuropean chemical M&A experienced a slowdown because of the spike in energy and feedstock costs that followed the start of the war in Ukraine, according to the Kearney report. It should continue declining in the next 12-18 months before a possible rebound. "Amid ongoing challenges, big chemical players are under stress, prompting them to review their business models and restructure," Kearney said in a report regarding Europe. In some cases, the owner of a business may decide to put it on the market after realizing it is no longer a core part of the company, Walberer said. The corporation concludes that it is no longer the best owner of the business and decides to divest it. "There are a lot of good examples of how new owners have been able to improve the performance of the business," he said. DuPont's performance coatings business would later flourish as Axalta Coatings Systems. which was initially sold to Carlyle for $4.9 billion before becoming a publicly traded company. Another example is Nouryon, the surfactants business that was spun off from AkzoNobel. In other cases, the business's performance has suffered because of structural reasons, such as high costs, Walberer said. GOVERNMENT SEMICONDUCTOR INCENTIVES MAY DRIVE M&AElectronic materials could become another M&A trend because of the incentives being lavished by government, Walberer said. The US, China, the EU, Japan, Germany and South Korea are among the countries that created semiconductor incentive programs worth billions of dollars. DuPont's electronics business is one of the three that will break out of the company. That business itself is the product of acquisitions made by DuPont. CHEM M&A ACTIVITY OVER THE YEARSTypically, the value of chemical M&A is $100 billion to $120 billion per year, a level it reached in 2022 and 2023, Walberer said. The COVID pandemic and its subsequent recovery distorted M&A in 2020 and 2021. Values in 2019 and 2016 spiked because of large deals such as the Dow and DuPont merger and Aramco acquiring a large stake in SABIC. ANNOUNCEMENTS IN 2024The following lists some of the major chemical M&A announcements made so far in 2024. February 26: PPG explores strategic alternatives for its architectural coatings business in the US and Canada. It could reach a decision by the end of the third quarter. March 4: Evonik agrees to sell its superabsorbents business to International Investors Group (ICIG). March 13: Trinseo seeks to sell its stake in Americas Styrenics. It later clarified that the entire joint venture is for sale. May 6: BASF plans to sell its idled ammonia, methanol and melamine units in Ludwigshafen, Germany. May 8: LyondellBasell starts strategic review of the bulk of its operations in Europe. May 8: Shell agrees to sell its refinery and petrochemical assets in Singapore to the CAPGC joint venture. May 22: DuPont plans to break up into three companies, including one focusing on electronics and another on water. Insight article by Al Greenwood Thumbnail image by ICIS.

13-Jun-2024

INSIGHT: China slams EU over EV tariffs; trade war brewing

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China has slammed EU’s proposal to impose provisional tariffs on imports of Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), denouncing it as a "blatant act of protectionism”, raising concerns that a trade war between Asia’s biggest economy and a new western front is brewing. EU tariffs on Chinese EVs to rise to 27-48% Retaliatory measures from China likely EU imports of China cars surge sevenfold over three years "The European side has disregarded facts and WTO [World Trade Organization] rules, ignored China's repeated strong opposition, and ignored the appeals and dissuasion of multiple EU member state governments and industries," China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement issued late on 12 June. The European Commission on 12 June notified Chinese automakers, including EV giant BYD, Geely, and state-owned SAIC Motor Corp, that it will impose additional provisional tariffs of 17% to 38% on imported Chinese EVs from around 4 July. These will be applied to existing 10% tariffs imposed on all Chinese EVs, with the final rate determined by each carmaker's level of cooperation with EU's anti-subsidy investigation launched in September last year. NEW FRONT FOR TIT-FOR-TAT TRADE WAR China’s commerce ministry has urged the EU to "immediately correct its wrong practices" and "properly handle trade frictions through dialogue and consultation". The ministry said it will "resolutely take all necessary measures to firmly defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies". "This move by the European side not only harms the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese electric vehicle industry but will also disrupt and distort the global automotive industry chain and supply chain, including the EU," it said. The EU's move follows the US' tariff hikes announced last month on Chinese imports of EVs, batteries and other materials, starting 1 August. In 2018, then US President Donald Trump initiated a trade war with China by imposing tariffs on Chinese imports to address alleged trade imbalances, intellectual property theft, and unfair trade practices. China retaliated with tariffs on US goods, escalating tensions between the two biggest economies in the world. While reviews by the US and EU on Chinese goods were under way, Beijing launched in May an anti-dumping investigation into imported polyoxymethylene (POM) copolymer, also known as polyformaldehyde copolymer – a key material in electronics and automotive manufacturing. China's commerce ministry alleged that the plastic is being sold below market value, harming domestic producers. The probe, targeting imports from the US, EU, Taiwan, and Japan, could last up to 18 months and is seen as a direct response to their recent trade barriers against Chinese goods. In the case of Taiwan, China has also suspended tariff concessions on 134 more products from the island, including base oil, chemicals, and chemical products, citing Taiwan’s supposed violations of the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with the mainland. Meanwhile, Japan’s tightened export controls on 23 types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment that took effect on July 2023 was deemed in line with restrictions imposed by the US and the Netherlands, potentially hindering China's access to advanced chipmaking technology. China may issue further retaliatory measures, potentially impacting global supply chains and escalating trade tensions with major economies in the west. The automotive industry is a major global consumer of petrochemicals that contributes more than one-third of the raw material costs of an average vehicle. The automotive sector drives demand for chemicals such as polypropylene (PP), along with nylon, polystyrene (PS), styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), polyurethane (PU), methyl methacrylate (MMA) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). CHINA 2023 CAR EXPORTS TO EU SURGE China’s exports of automobiles to the EU have surged over the past year, particularly in the battery electric vehicle (BEV) segment, according to Nomura Global Markets Research. Cars produced in China accounted for 20% of all BEV registrations in the EU during the first two months of 2024, it said, citing data from automotive business intelligence firm JATO Dynamics. An analysis of January-April 2024 sales figures from China’s top three EV manufacturers in the EU, however, suggests that their overall presence in the region is still nascent, Nomura noted. In 2023, EU’s imports of Chinese EVs surged to $11.5 billion, more than sevenfold increase from $1.6 billion in 2020, according to think thank Rhodium Group. China accounted for 37% of EU’s total EV imports last year, it said. In the first quarter of 2024, about 40% of China’s EV exports or 145,002 units went to Europe, according to official customs data. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman Thumbnail image: An electric car at a charging station near the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium. (Xinhua/Shutterstock)

13-Jun-2024

China price pressures to remain weak on persistent weak demand

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China's consumer inflation rate is expected to remain weak in the near future on persistently weak domestic demand, raising worries about the risk of deflation as the nation's economic recovery struggles to gain traction. This comes as the country's consumer price index (CPI) rose by a mere 0.3% year-on-year in May, unchanged from April and well below the government's 3% target. "Amid still-weak domestic demand, we expect CPI inflation to stay slightly above zero in the near term and producer price index (PPI) inflation to be slightly less negative on a low base," Japan's Nomura Global Markets Research said in a note. China's headline inflation rate is projected to remain positive but stay mild under 1% until the third quarter of this year, said Ho Woei Chen, an economist with Singapore-based UOB Global Economics & Markets Research. "The deflation in the fourth quarter of 2023 will provide a low base for CPI to rebound more strongly in the last quarter of the year," Ho said. UOB's full-year forecast for China's headline inflation is at 0.7% for 2024, compared with 0.2% in 2023, "but current trajectory suggests that the risk is to the downside", she added. Meanwhile, factory gate prices continued their downward spiral, with the PPI falling for the 20th consecutive month in May. The PPI declined by 1.4% year on year in May, a slight improvement from the 2.5% drop in April. "The pace of PPI deflation is expected to ease but this had been slower than expected as oil prices stayed muted and overcapacity in some industries weighed on the prices of manufactured goods," Ho said. "Increasing tariffs imposed on Chinese goods may further delay the price recovery." The persistent low inflation is a stark contrast to the high inflation plaguing Western economies, further fueling fears of deflation as China grapples with sluggish consumer spending – a key obstacle to the country's uneven recovery from the pandemic. While inflation is likely to remain low in the second quarter, it should begin to pick up in the second half of the year, Dutch banking and financial information services provider ING said in a note. "Although inflation is set to pick up this year as the drag from falling food prices fades, it is anticipated to remain well below target amid slowing consumption and weak demand pressures," the World Bank said in its June Global Economic Prospects report released on 11 June. "Producer price pressures are also set to remain weak in the context of subdued activity and softening prices for commodities, particularly energy and metals." China's economic growth is projected to ease to 4.8% in 2024, down from 5.2 percent in 2023, as activity is expected to soften in the latter half of this year, according to World Bank estimates. While a potential uptick in goods exports and industrial activity, bolstered by a global trade recovery, is anticipated, this will likely be counterbalanced by weaker domestic consumption, it added. "We expect domestic and external demand to continue diverging over the near term, as the property fallout sustains and the economy rebalances itself," Nomura said. "Export growth is likely to remain resilient in the near term, thanks to a low base, the resilient US economy, the global tech upswing, the price advantage of Chinese products and some front-loading ahead of scheduled or threatened tariff hikes." Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman

13-Jun-2024

PODCAST: Methanol could play leading role in the low-carbon energy transition

BARCELONA (ICIS)–Methanol has long-term potential as a major player in the energy transition, especially for use as a marine fuel. Methanol mainly made from coal in China, natural gas elsewhere Used to make formaldehyde, acetic acid, in China mainly coal-based methanol to olefins (MTO) Q2 typically sees peak demand for Europe construction but subdued this year Concerns about overcapacity globally as new projects come onstream Use as marine fuel may be a big driver of growth long term Energy transition offers great opportunities In this Think Tank podcast, Will Beacham interviews ICIS senior editor Eashani Chavda and ICIS Insight editor Nigel Davis. 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.

11-Jun-2024

Closures of high-cost assets to accelerate in Europe, northeast Asia – ICIS

SANTIAGO (ICIS)–Announcements of closures for high-cost assets, especially in Europe and northeast Asia, are likely to accelerate in coming quarters as the global petrochemicals industry is forced to rationalize, according to an ICIS analyst on Tuesday. Antulio Borneo, vice president for the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyester chain at ICIS, said announcements of closures for steam crackers – the key facility to produce petrochemicals – in Europe are to accelerate after two key players already said they were shutting theirs. Earlier in 2024, US energy major ExxonMobil said it was to shut its cracker in Gravenchon, France, and Saudi petrochemicals major SABIC said it would shut its facility in Geleen, the Netherlands. “High-cost assets reside mainly in Europe and northeast Asia; the pressure to rationalize old and inefficient assets will intensify as time passes, but it will be expensive,” said Borneo. “Announcements of permanent closures of chemicals plants are expected to gain momentum throughout 2024.” Borneo was speaking at an event about logistics organized by the Latin American Petrochemical and Chemical Association (APLA). The consultant went on to say that Europe’s crackers are, on average, nearly 45 years old, while those in northeast Asia – excluding China – are on average just over 30 years old. With the global oversupply in petrochemicals expected to take years to be absorbed and take the market back into balance, those old assets are first on the line to be shut, concluded Borneo. The APLA Logistica event runs in Santiago on 11-12 June.

11-Jun-2024

Finland to enforce ban on Russian LNG by next spring, says official

Finland hopes to enforce ban on Russian LNG in spring 2025 Finland would be first to use an EU option to unilaterally ban Russian gas and LNG Finland will most likely rely on supply from Norway and the US at small-scale terminals LONDON (ICIS)–Finland’s government has told ICIS it hopes to enforce a ban on Russian LNG in spring 2025, after proposing the legislation this winter. “The legislative proposal on banning Russian gas is due winter 2024-2025 …most likely early 2025,” Director General of the Energy Department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Riku Huttunen, told ICIS.
“After that the ban might be in force in spring 2025.” His comments follow last week’s news that Finland will propose by winter legislation to ban. Finland’s LNG import terminal, Inkoo, already effectively bans Russian LNG due to the terminal’s rules of operation. LNG is still imported from Russia at Finland’s Pori and Tornio terminals under long-term agreements. The two small-scale terminals are not connected to Finland’s gas grid. Finland’s foreign trade statistics indicate that 65% of gas imports in the fourth quarter 2023 came from the US, with 23% coming from Norway and 7% from Russia. Replacing Russian supplies to the small-scale market following winter is expected to go ahead relatively smoothly. “The LNG market is quite liquid at the moment, so I expect no difficulties in replacing the small amounts of Russian LNG still used in Finland,” said Huttunen. “The companies make the commercial decisions,” he said. “Currently, the most important suppliers to the Finnish-Baltic gas market are Norway and the US.” Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment cited earlier this month European Commission analysis that gas supply over winter 2024-2025 will be sufficient to meet Europe’s needs. It also referred to the completion of repair work on the Balticonnector.

11-Jun-2024

India’s GAIL to build $7.2bn Madhya Pradesh petrochemical complex

MUMBAI (ICIS)–State-owned GAIL (India) Ltd plans to invest Indian rupee (Rs) 600 billion ($7.2 billion) to build an ethane cracker and its derivative plants in Madhya Pradesh. The cracker will have a 1.5 million tonne/year capacity and will be set up at Ashta in the Sehore district of the state in central India, GAIL said in a regulatory disclosure to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 10 June. GAIL did not provide product or capacity details of the ethylene derivatives it plans to produce at the complex. “Around 800 hectares of land shall be provided by the MP [Madhya Pradesh] Industrial Development Corporation, for which the state government has already initiated the process,” GAIL said. Project construction is expected to begin by February 2025, with commercial production likely in the financial year ending March 2031, it added. Investment on the project is still pending approval from GAIL management board, and the mode of financing yet to be decided. The Madhya Pradesh state government has approved the project and land will be allotted soon, state chief minister Mohan Yadav had said in a statement on 7 June. He said that “petrochemicals like linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE), mono ethylene glycol (MEG) and propylene will be produced” at the site. The new project is part of GAIL’s initiative to enhance its petrochemical portfolio, a company source said. “The demand for petrochemicals is increasing in the country, led by expanding industrial, construction and manufacturing,” he said, citing an 8-9% annual growth rate in India’s polymer demand. In March 2024, GAIL had signed a tripartite agreement with Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Shell Energy India to explore opportunities for the import of ethane and other hydrocarbons at Shell Energy Terminal in Hazira in the western Gujarat state. Separately, the company recently announced plans to set up liquid pipeline for ethylene (C2), propylene (C3) from Vijaipur to Aurai in the northern Uttar Pradesh state. At Pata in the same state, GAIL will begin operations at the 60,000 tonne/year PP plant by December 2024. At Usar in the western Maharashtra state, GAIL expects to begin operations at its 500,000 tonne/year propane dehydrogenation unit (PDH) and 500,000 tonnes/year polypropylene (PP) line by April 2025; and its 50,000 tonne/year isopropylene project by December 2025. In the southern Karnataka state, the company expects to bring on line its 1.25m tonne/year purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant in Mangalore by March 2025. GAIL had acquired JBF Petrochemicals in June 2023 which allowed it to add PTA to its existing petrochemical portfolio. ($1 = Rs83.49) Focus article by Priya Jestin

11-Jun-2024

Arianne Phosphate says adding phosphate to critical mineral list acknowledges its importance

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Canadian firm Arianne Phosphate announced that the government of Canada has added phosphate to the country’s critical mineral list, which it said acknowledges the fundamental importance and necessity of this mineral. The criteria for the Canadian critical mineral list are that the mineral is deemed essential to the nation’s economy and security, necessary for a transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy, can be a source for international allies and is a mineral whose supply is threatened. Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson said by updating the list Canada is taking a proactive step for its economy. “Investments in critical mineral projects create good jobs for workers, more avenues for Canadian innovation and lower emissions across the country – all part of our plan to build a cleaner Canada and a prosperous, sustainable economy,” said Wilkinson. Arianne Phosphate has been advancing on its Lac a Paul project in in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region and said it is now fully permitted and shovel ready. It noted that it hosts the largest independent greenfield phosphate deposit where it can produce a very high-purity and low-contaminant phosphate concentrate, ideal for use in both fertilizer and technical-grade applications. This includes the production of purified phosphoric acid which is required for lithium-iron-phosphate batteries. “The addition of phosphate to the critical mineral list not only recognizes the importance of the mineral but, the challenges the west has in securing the necessary supplies,” said Brian Ostroff, Arianne Phosphate president. “We welcome the Canadian government’s decision to add phosphate to its list and, along with the Quebec government’s recent decision to do the same, believe this will be a significant driver for Arianne as we look to conclude our ongoing discussions with potential partners and financiers.” Ostroff said an operating Canadian-based phosphate mine, along with the construction of a downstream purified phosphoric acid facility, would help ease the increasing concern over supply and start to address future needs. Arianne is currently undergoing a prefeasibility study designed to review the potential for constructing a large-scale phosphoric acid plant in the Saguenay region. The facility would be able to convert high-purity igneous phosphate concentrate into a purified phosphoric acid for use in downstream applications. As currently envisioned, the facility would be capable of producing 350,000 tonnes of battery-grade purified phosphoric acid and over 200,000 tonnes of a secondary phosphoric acid for use in specialty fertilizers and animal feeds.

10-Jun-2024

Americas top stories: weekly summary

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News from the week ended 7 June. Celanese declares force majeure on acetic acid and VAM in Europe, Americas Celanese has declared force majeure on acetic acid and vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) in the "Western Hemisphere", which is understood to include the Americas and the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. Canada rail strike unlikely to begin before mid-to-late July, rail carrier CN says Rail carrier Canadian National (CN) estimates that a threatened rail strike in Canada is unlikely to begin before mid-to-late July, it said in an update on its website on Thursday. Mexico’s Altamira petchems force majeure declarations continue on severe drought 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. Brazil’s Braskem expects operations at Triunfo to normalize in ‘coming days’ Braskem’s operations at Triunfo in floods-hit state of Rio Grande do Sul are still yet fully normalized, despite the plant having restarted more than two weeks ago, a spokesperson said to ICIS on Wednesday. Pace of China chemical capacity additions unsustainable – Huntsman CEO The blistering pace of chemical capacity additions in China is likely to tail off, as the current wave is the result of prior planning during better times, the CEO of Huntsman said. IPEX: Index down for first time this year on weak demand in all regions The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) was down 1.2% in May month on month, as weak downstream demand paved the way for price declines in all regions. Protectionism and tariffs a key concern for US chemicals – ACC execs The increasing trend towards protectionism and tariffs is a key concern for the US chemical industry, said executives at the American Chemistry Council (ACC). INSIGHT: Mexico’s emissions, energy policy and Pemex main challenges for new president Mexico’s new – and first female – president Claudia Sheinbaum will have to decide soon into her term whether she changes course in two key aspects: energy policy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the support for state-owned, indebted and underperforming energy major Pemex. Nylon recovery progressing but building and construction still weak – AdvanSix CEO AdvanSix continues to see a gradual recovery in nylon demand driven by automotive and packaging, but building and construction remains challenged, said the CEO of AdvanSix.

10-Jun-2024

Yearly average Europe R-HDPE spreads suggest squeezed margins for pipe-grade producers

LONDON (ICIS)–Yearly average Europe recycled high density polyethylene (R-HDPE) pipe-grade black pellet prices in 2024 to date are at their lowest level since 2020. 2024 prices to date are the second-lowest yearly average price on record, behind 2020. These prices are a result of the cost-of-living crisis muting construction demand and driving oversupply across the market over the past 18 months. The yearly average price in 2023 was just €50/tonne above its current level. Yearly average pipe-grade black pellet price Year Average price (€/tonne) 2019 (price series began in May) 843 2020 696 2021 1,009 2022 1,267 2023 850 2024 (to date) 800 Producers of pipe-grade black pellets have been complaining of squeezed margins since early 2023, something which is borne out by examining average prices. The yearly average spread between mixed-coloured bale feedstock values (see bale section) and pipe-grade pellets is also at its lowest since 2020, and its second lowest on record. Yearly average spread mixed-coloured bale vs pipe-grade black pellet Year Average spread (€/tonne) 2019 (price series began in May) 537 2020 524 2021 597 2022 717 2023 543 2024 (to date) 533 Nevertheless, this doesn’t show the full picture since energy and labour costs remain considerably higher than they were in 2020 due to inflationary pressures. Coupled with this, the above chart does not factor in wastage rates, which are at least 25% and often higher. What this means is that at a 25% wastage rate, you’d need to input 1.25 tonnes of feedstock waste – increasing the cost base. Adjusting the spreads to account for a 25% wastage rate shows that the average spread in both 2023 and 2024 to date were identical, and that both are the lowest seen since 2019.  Yearly average spread mixed-coloured bale vs pipe-grade black pellet (adjusted at 25% wastage rate) Year Average adjusted spread (€/tonne) 2019 (price series began in May) 460 2020 481 2021 494 2022 579.5 2023 466.25 2024 (to date) 466.25 Market players are becoming increasingly concerned over the demand outlook beyond Q2, due to a combination of mounting substitution pressure from virgin (particularly for non-packaging grades) and the approach of the summer lull. Substitution pressure from virgin and off-spec material is likely to disproportionately impact on non-packaging grades, which typically purchase recycled material for cost-saving reasons. Seasonal factors typically mean that pipe-grade pellet prices are typically stronger in the first half of the year than the second, with June representing the last month when prices are typically above the yearly average. This is both due to construction activity typically being more limited in winter months when temperatures are colder, and the impact of typical convertor summer shutdowns for routine maintenance in July/August, followed by destocking in Q4 to lower working capital on year-end balance sheets. During July and August, downstream convertors typically shut for several weeks of routine maintenance. Typically southern Europe shuts earlier than northern Europe, with the majority of northern Europe shutdowns occurring in August. There has been repeated talk in the past few weeks of German convertors shutting as early as late-June this year due to negative macroeconomic conditions in the country. This price trend can be seen in the Seasonality Index chart below. The seasonality index shows which months in the year prices are typically higher than average, and which months they are typically lower than average, and to what extent. It reveals underlying trading patterns in markets beyond short-term supply/demand conditions. The average price is represented by 1.00. When the index is below 1.00 it means that prices are typically below average in that month, and when above 1.00 it means prices are typically above average in that month, with the distance from 1.00 showing the extent. It is calculated by first dividing each monthly price by the average price for that year to give an index value. Then, all of those monthly index values are averaged to give a single value for each month. Those averaged monthly values are used to plot the seasonality index. The longer a price series has been running, the more accurate the seasonality index. ICIS began pricing R-HDPE bales in May 2019. Focus article by Mark Victory

07-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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