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(Northwest Europe)

The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) takes full effect in the European Union in 2026 and is expected to impact all aspects of the ammonia market. Manage costs and stay ahead of this evolving market with the ICIS carbon cost-adjusted ammonia price.

Our formula is based on the weekly CFR Northwest Europe Duty Unpaid spot/contract ammonia price, the weekly average carbon spot price from EEX EUA, carbon emission per tonne of NH3 (ammonia) production and free CO2 allocation per tonne of ammonia.

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Trinidad and its fertilizer plants escape wrath of Hurricane Beryl

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Although Trinidad and Tobago have seen tremendous rainfall and significant winds the last two days, the island nation and its fertilizer operations escaped the heaviest impacts of Hurricane Beryl. Rated at a category 4 as of late on Tuesday, the storm did cause some harm to surrounding island countries but for most of Trinidad and Tobago what was felt was an extended stretch of unfavorable weather, with fertilizers producers emerging unscathed. Produces Yara, which manufactures ammonia at its facilities, said they had been fortunate as the storm passed by yesterday afternoon with plants not suffering any damage or having any production interrupted. With plant operations also in the same vicinity on the island producer Nutrien reported similar positive outcomes with a spokesperson saying, “Happily, zero impact. All running as usual.” Going forward Beryl is now expected to be impacting Jamaica by Wednesday morning. For now, the domestic fertilizer market is carefully watching the track as there are considerable production, storage and transportation interests which stretch along the US Gulf Coast. The current forecast has the storm potentially downgrading slightly as travels more towards making an eventual strike in northern Mexico, or possibly landing further up in southern Texas by the end of this week.


Latin America stories: weekly summary

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Here are some of the stories from ICIS Latin America for the week ended on 28 June. NEWS Brazil Unigel falls short of tolling deal for ammonia plants – Petrobras Petrobras has alleged that Unigel has failed to meet the terms of their tolling agreement for the production of ammonia at two idled plants, the Brazilian state-controlled energy producer said on Friday. Brazil’s Cibra inaugurates new plant in Matopiba Cibrafertil Companhia Brasileira de Fertilizantes (Cibra) has inaugurated a greenfield plant in Sao Luís, Maranhao, the Brazilian fertilizer company has announced. Saudi Arabia, South America offer promising opportunities for base oils Markets such as Saudi Arabia and countries in South America hold potential for growth in the years ahead, industry sources said on Friday. Mexico’s central bank keeps rates unchanged at 11% as inflation ticks up The Banco de Mexico kept on Thursday the main interest rate benchmark unchanged at 11% after the annual rate of inflation has increased since February. Argentina GDP down 5.1% in Q1 but sentiment rises again in May Argentina’s recession may have bottomed out in the first quarter, with a GDP fall of 5.1% year on year, as a leading indicator for economic activity rose in May for the third month. Plant status: Chemours resumes TiO2 production at Mexico plant US producer Chemours has resumed operations at its Altamira, Mexico titanium dioxide (TiO2) facility after it was forced to reduce them due to water shortages in the area. PRICING LatAm PE domestic prices lower in Argentina on weak demand Domestic polyethylene (PE) prices were assessed as lower in Argentina while being unchanged in other Latin American countries.


Swiss Ameropa and India Hygenco sign term sheet for potential green ammonia supply

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Swiss fertilizer producer and trader Ameropa and India firm Hygenco Green Energies have announced they have signed a term sheet regarding the potential supply of green ammonia from Hygenco's forthcoming plant in India. The companies said one of the goals of this pact is to enhance green ammonia exports from India and to support the global transition to renewable energy and sustainable agricultural practices. Hygenco will produce green ammonia from a project to be located at the Gopalpur port in Odisha with the first phase anticipated to produce 600 short tons/day, which it plans to achieve by 2027. As designed phase two will double output to 1,200 tonnes/day by early 2028 with the project scheduled to reach full capacity of 1.1 million tons/year of green ammonia by 2030. Looking to capture a significant share of the growing global low-carbon ammonia markets, Hygenco and Ameropa said they are planning to start exporting green ammonia to Europe and Asia with a key focus on establishing a reliable supply chain. Currently Hygenco is the only Indian company with an operational commercial green hydrogen plant, and it plans to invest $2.5 billion in green hydrogen and green ammonia projects in the next three years. “Inspired by the age-old philosophy that the world is one family, we are proud to announce a visionary partnership with Ameropa to support their decarbonization goals,” said Amit Bansal, Hygenco Green Energies CEO. “This term sheet highlights India’s exceptional position to lead globally in this sector, by harnessing its abundant renewable energy resources and strong infrastructure.” India has a target of producing 5 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030 and if this is achieved the country is poised to then become a major exporter of green ammonia. For Ameropa, this opportunity is seen as being pivotal to help them make low-impact fertilizers and grow sustainable agricultural practices as well as significantly enhance the company's indirect emissions reduction. “The Swiss trader has decided to support Hygenco's well-advanced plans while nurturing the ambition of a global portfolio of low-carbon ammonia,” said Beat Ruprecht, Ameropa Head of Ammonia.


Mitsui building plant in UAE with clean ammonia volumes expected by 2030

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Global ammonia marketer Mitsui announced it has agreed with partners to commence construction of an ammonia production facility in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The project involves the construction of an ammonia production facility in Al Ruwais which is scheduled to start in 2027. It is planned to produce 1 million short tons per year of ammonia with lower carbon emissions compared to conventional supply. To achieve the reductions there will be additional facilities installed in the plant to capture and store levels emitted in the manufacturing process, with plans to begin production of clean ammonia by 2030. Mitsui said it will also offtake a certain volume of the clean ammonia for supplying Japan and other Asian markets for use in fuel applications, chemical and fertilizer feedstock applications, and other industries. The other partners involved in this project are TA'ZIZ, owned by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Fertiglobe, and South Korea's GS Energy Corporation.


Latin America stories: weekly summary

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Here are some of the stories from ICIS Latin America for the week ended on 14 June. NEWS  INSIGHT: Brazil, Mexico currencies take a hit, energy policy under Sheinbaum remains in spotlight The Mexican peso continued sliding this week as the new President Elect Claudia Sheinbaum’s Morena party achieved the "super-majority" investors feared, which could open the door to one-party constitutional reforms, while her energy policy remains on the spotlight. Argentina’s inflation down to 276% in May, first fall in 10 months Argentina’s annual rate of inflation fell in May to 276.4%, down from April’s 289.4%, the country’s statistical office, Indec said, the first fall since July 2023 and six months after President Javier Milei took office. Higher import tariffs one leg of wider plan to save Brazil’s besieged chemicals producers – Abiquim Proposals to sharply increase chemicals import tariffs are only one of the three aspects Brazil’s chemicals producers have proposed to the government to save their "besieged” operations, according to the CEO at trade group Abiquim. Mexico’s petchems supply flowing despite Altamira disruption, but industry crisis could continue The drought affecting the Altamira petrochemicals hub in Mexico’s state of Tamaulipas is not yet affecting the supply of chemicals, but the water restrictions for industrial players could continue, sources said this week. Brazilian pulp producer Suzano to acquire 15% stake in Austria’s Lenzing Brazilian pulp producer Suzano has agreed to acquire a 15% stake in Austrian cellulosic fibres company Lenzing for €230 million, paying €39.70/share, officials said on Wednesday. Brazil fertilizers interactive trade flow map January-May 2024 The Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade for Brazil has released fertilizer trade figures for January-May 2024. Future disruption to Panama Canal will depend on El Nino intensity – expert Despite arrangements put in place to make the Panama Canal fit for a changing climate, future disruption at the Americas key shipping route will depend on a variable no-one can predict: the intensity of future El Niño weather phenomenon, according to an expert at maritime services provider CB Fenton on Tuesday. Mexico’s chemicals output up 7.2% in April, manufacturing up nearly 4.0% Mexico’s chemicals output rose by 7.2% in April, year on year, well above the 3.8% increase in overall manufacturing activity, the country’s statistical office Inegi said on Tuesday. Chemical tanker prices rise as much as 75% since 2020 on lack of liquidity – expert Chemicals tanker prices have risen globally 30-75% in the past four years on a lack of liquidity, an expert at Chile-headquartered chemicals bulk operator Ultratank said on Tuesday. Brazil’s inflation up to 3.93% in May; prices rise sharply in floods-hit state Brazil’s annual rate of inflation rose in May to 3.93%, up from 3.69% in April, with notable price rises registered in food products, especially in the floods-hit state of Rio Grande do Sul, the country’s statistical office IBGE said on Tuesday. Closures of high-cost assets to accelerate in Europe, northeast Asia – 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. Venezuela’s Pequiven, Turkey’s Yildirim mull petchems, ammonia facilities Venezuelan state-owned petrochemicals producer Pequiven has signed an agreement with Turkey’s conglomerate Yildirim to consider building petrochemicals and ammonia facilities in the country, according to the Venezuelan Ministry of Economy. Chile’s Petroquim navigating better than peers pressure from Asian material – exec Polypropylene (PP) producer Petroquim is also facing pressure from lower-priced material sent from Asia, but the company’s “dedicated” service to customers has kept its sales spared from a larger hit, according to the commercial manager at the Chilean company. PRICINGLatAm PP international prices steady to higher on squeezed margins, higher freight rates International polypropylene (PP) prices were assessed as stable to higher across Latin American countries because of higher freight costs and squeezed margins. LatAm PE international prices steady to up on higher offers from abroad International polyethylene (PE) prices were assessed as steady to higher across the region on the back of higher offers from abroad. Plant status: Alpek Polyester’s Altamira plants ceases operations due to water scarcity in Mexico Mexico’s chemicals producer Alpek has declared force majeure for purified terephthalate acid (PTA) out of its 1 million tonnes/year facilities in Altamira, state of Tamaulipas, on the back of the severe drought which has restricted water supplies to industrial companies. Stable PET prices in Mexico prevail amid supply challenges Throughout this week, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) prices have remained stable in Mexico, as per market observations. However, industry participants believe that this stability might not last long.


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.


Brazil Petrobras to resume operations at urea, ammonia plant in Parana

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Brazil producer Petrobras announced that its executive board has approved the resumption of operating activities of the fertilizer plant Araucaria Nitrogenados in the state of Parana. The plant has been mothballed since 2020 and the producer said it is now expected to be restarted in the second half of 2025. Located next to the Presidente Getulio Vargas Refinery the operation has a fertilizer production capacity of 720,000 short tons/year for urea and 475,000 short tons/year for ammonia. It can also produce automotive liquid reducing agent.


APIC ’24: Overcapacity weighs on Japan petrochemical production – JPCA

SINGAPORE/SEOUL (ICIS)–Cracker operations in Japan will remain “challenging” this year amid soft demand while capacity expansion in China continues, according to the Japan Petrochemical Industry Association (JPCA). C2 output falls to record low in 2023 Production of five major plastics shrink by around 5% Capacity optimization among industry main tasks “With new cracker capacities being planned in China almost every year at a pace far exceeding demand, the operation rates of domestic crackers are expected to remain challenging,” said a JPCA report prepared for the Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) being held in Seoul. The two-day conference ends on 31 May. In 2023, Japan’s ethylene (C2) production shrank 2.3% to a record low of 5.32 million tonnes, as domestic crackers ran below full capacity, JPCA data showed. “The operation rates of domestic crackers have remained below 90% (this rate is said to be the criterion for judging the economic situation) since August 2022 and the monthly operation rate dropped below 80% four times in 2023,” JPCA said. Japan, which was dislodged by Germany as the world’s third-biggest economy in 2023, is projected to post a 2024 GDP growth of around 1.3%, down from last year’s 1.9% pace. In Q1 2024, the economy shrank at an annualised rate of 2.0% as both consumption and capital spending weakened. For the whole of 2023, the country’s total production of five major plastics – namely, linear density polyethylene (PE), high density PE (HDPE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – declined by an average of 4.7% to 6.02 million tonnes. Japan production of major petrochemicals (in thousand tonnes) Product 2023 2022 % change Ethylene 5,324 5,449 -2.3 LDPE 1,223 1,347 -9.2 HDPE 661 714 -7.4 PP 2,075 2,120 -2.1 PS 564 654 -13.8 PVC 1,496 1,483 0.9 Styrene monomer (SM) 1,428 1,542 -7.4 Ethylene glycol (EG) 264 351 -24.8 Acrylonitrile (ACN) 341 422 -19.2 Sources: JPCA, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan Styrene Industry Association (PS, SM) and Vinyl Environmental Council (PVC) Domestic demand as ethylene equivalent for the year declined by 11.9% to 3.87 million tonnes, according to JPCA data. “In 2024, there is a risk of a decline in demand due to the deterioration of the global economy, such as price hikes of raw commodities due to supply disruptions caused by several problems,” JPCA said, citing Russia’s prolonged invasion of Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war, and attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea. “But a certain amount of demand growth is expected due to the resilience of the US and some developing countries’ economy, and the global economy would have a possibility to make a ‘soft landing’,” JPCA stated. Economists are growing more confident that the US – the world’s biggest economy – will be able to post a 2024 growth rate of 2.4%, easing from the actual GDP growth of 2.5% in 2023. China, although beset by a slumping property sector, should be able to post a 5.0% GDP growth, according to the revised forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In the report, JPCA also emphasized the petrochemical industry’s tasks to engage in “green” or environmental-friendly transformation toward carbon neutrality by 2050; to enhance and optimize excess production capacity amid a declining population; to push for digital transformation; and contribute to a recycling-oriented society. “In Japan, demonstration experiments using new process technologies and raw materials that contribute to green activities have begun, such as biomass-based fuel, bio-material-based olefins, ammonia synthesis, and hydrocarbon synthesis,” it said. Focus article by Pearl Bantillo


PODCAST: All eyes on India as phosphates and ammonia markets see low demand

LONDON (ICIS)–Phosphates prices have been under pressure in India recently, while demand is expected to revive soon. Meanwhile, a lack of ammonia spot demand globally is weighing on the market. Phosphates editor Chris Vlachopoulos talks to senior editor Sylvia Traganida about the state of the phosphates market ahead of the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) annual conference (20-22 May).


Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 10 May. Europe propylene supply rebalancing on derivative restart, cracker issues Propylene spot supply is returning to a more balanced position with a key derivative unit now back on stream and a couple of cracker issues disrupting output. Europe businesses face tough market and regulatory hurdles in long term – LyondellBasell Market conditions in Europe are likely to remain challenging in the long term while changing regulations are increasing costs for businesses, LyondellBasell Industries said on Thursday, after announcing a strategic review for most of its operations in the region. LyondellBasell launches review of European assets LyondellBasell has launched a strategic review of the bulk of its operations in Europe, the producer said on Wednesday, based on its strategy to focus on assets perceived to have long-lasting competitive advantage Chandra Asri aspires to become regional player with Shell Singapore purchase Chandra Asri is looking to develop its presence in southeast Asia and become a key regional player with its purchase of Shell’s refining and petrochemicals assets in Singapore alongside commodities major Glencore, the Indonesia-based firm said on Wednesday. IPEX: April index rises for fourth month in a row on firmer pricing in northwest Europe, northeast Asia The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) was up 1.5% in April month on month as production constraints continue to push contract prices up across some commodities, mainly in northwest Europe and northeast Asia. BASF puts ammonia, methanol, melamine plants up for sale at Ludwigshafen BASF has engaged plant sale specialists International Process Plants (IPP) to sell idled ammonia, methanol and melamine units located at its loss-making Ludwigshafen site in Germany.


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