TOPIC PAGE: Coronavirus, oil price direction – impact on chemicals

Author: Will Beacham

2021/01/22

The US saw an increase in the number of oil and gas drilling rigs in operation this week, rising for the ninth week in a row, despite rising concerns about how an outbreak of the coronavirus in China will impact crude oil demand.

A total of 378 rigs were in operation, five more than last week, according to drilling services provider Baker Hughes.

There were 289 oil rigs in operation, up by two from the previous week. Gas rigs were up once again, gaining three to bring the total to 88 rigs.

On this topic page we analyse the impact of coronavirus and the oil price collapse on chemical markets and bring together the latest news reported by ICIS. To visit the ICIS energy markets topic page, click here

Scroll down to see the latest interactive graphics, podcasts and videos. 

Click here to register for regular updates to help you navigate these challenging times.

LATEST HEADLINES

US adds oil, gas drilling rigs as count rises for ninth week
By Adam Yanelli 2021/01/22 HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US saw an increase in the number of oil and gas drilling rigs in operation this week, rising for the ninth week in a row, despite rising concerns about how an outbreak of the coronavirus in China will impact crude oil demand

Japan’s au Jibun Bank flash manufacturing PMI slips to 49.7 in Jan
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/22 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--au Jibun Bank’s flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for Japan slipped to 49.7 in January from the final reading of 50.0 in December 2020 as output fell amid rising costs, the Japanese bank said on Friday.

A PMI reading below 50 indicates a contraction in the manufacturing economy.

"Despite a return to growth in new orders for the first time since December 2018, falling output and employment levels and rising cost pressures dampened operating conditions," au Jibun Bank said.

Washington state in US denies permit for methanol plant
By Al Greenwood 2021/01/21 HOUSTON (ICIS)--The Washington Department of Ecology denied a permit for a proposed methanol plant in that state's town of Kalama.

The department denied issuing the shoreline-conditional-use permit because of concerns about greenhouse-gas emissions, it said. As a result, Washington state could fail to meet its greenhouse-gas targets that were set by its legislature.

The plant is being developed by Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW). The methanol would be used in China’s methanol-to-olefins (MTO) plants.

Mideast chemical supply tight on container shortages, Asian plant shutdowns
By Felicia Loo 2021/01/21 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Middle East's petrochemical markets are facing tight supply, mainly due to shortage of containers, with shipment difficulties to last until March. Plant shutdowns in Asia exacerbated the tight supply conditions, overshadowing demand from strong to stable in certain sectors in the Middle East.

Japan's chemical exports rise by 10% in Dec, overall shipments up 2%
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/21 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan's chemical exports rose by 10.0% year on year in December 2020 to yen (Y) 833.9bn as overall shipments abroad rose for the first time in two years, official data showed on Thursday.

USA’s INVISTA licenses technology to Sinopec Yizheng for new PTA line
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/21 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--INVISTA and China’s Sinopec Yizheng have reached a technology licensing agreement for a new purified terephthalic acid (PTA) line in Jiangsu province, the US producer said on Thursday.

Indian chemicals industry bats for increasing duties on imports
By Priya Jestin 2021/01/21 MUMBAI (ICIS)--The Indian chemicals and petrochemicals industry, which is now seeing a slow recovery in demand, expects the government to support its growth trend by introducing measures to reduce unnecessary imports.

PODCAST: Global ACN supply restrictions continue to dominate talk in Q1
By Jane Massingham 2021/01/20 LONDON (ICIS)--The global acrylonitrile (ACN) market is expected to remain tight through Q1, although uncertainty looms in the shape of Chinese New Year and how it may impact on regional demand. ICIS pricing editors Jane Massingham (Europe), Li Li Chng (Asia) and Lucas Hall (US) discuss the latest developments in the ACN market and what lies in store.

PODCAST: Jet and bio fuels in 2021 – what are the trends?
By Andrew Putwain 2021/01/20 LONDON (ICIS)-- Jet fuel has been one of the oil products hit hardest by the pandemic. With vaccines now being rolled out will there be more support in 2021 - even as the market faces pressures to turn to more sustainable biofuels? Market analyst Man Yiu Tse and crude oil reporter Andrew Putwain look at the big trends for 2021 in jet fuel and biojet alternatives.

Malaysia central bank keeps accommodative monetary stance amid new lockdown
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/01/20 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Malaysia’s central bank decided on Wednesday to maintain an accommodative monetary policy as it acknowledges that new coronavirus-related restrictions will hit near-term economic performance. Its overnight policy interest rate was kept at 1.75%.

Singapore’s 2020 chemical fixed asset investments fall; overall FAI grows
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/20 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Singapore’s chemical fixed asset investments (FAI) fell by 18.9% year on year to Singapore dollar (S$) 4.11bn in 2020, but overall FAI rose despite the challenges arising from the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed on Wednesday.

India’s GNAL delays commissioning of new caustic soda line to August
By Priya Jestin 2021/01/20 MUMBAI (ICIS)--India’s GACL-NALCO Alkalies & Chemicals Ltd (GNAL) has pushed back the scheduled commissioning of its greenfield 266,667 tonne/year caustic soda plant in Dahej to August 2021, a company source said on Wednesday.

VIDEO: China non-carbide VAM supply to tighten further on EVA start-ups
By Anna Xiang 2021/01/19 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Watch industry analyst Anna share her views on China's domestic vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) market for 2021.

Chip shortage threatens global auto sector, demand for chemicals and polymers
By: Will Beacham 2021/01/18 BARCELONA (ICIS)--A global shortage of computer chips is threatening the nascent recovery of automotive production, as well as demand for automotive chemicals around the world.

Semiconductor chip manufacturers have struggled to meet demand growth in the fourth quarter of 2020 and into 2021 as the automotive sector rebounded from Coronavirus lockdowns, especially in China. Increased sales of computers and electronic devices through the pandemic have also boosted demand.

Auto production is already disrupted by the shortage of chips. Germany’s Audi has slowed production and has furloughed 10,000 employees, according to an interview quoting company CEO Markus Duesmann in the UK Financial Times on 17 January.

INSIGHT: UK chemicals face continued disruption from post-Brexit paperwork, container shortages
By: Will Beacham 2021/01/18 BARCELONA (ICIS)--UK chemical companies and their 27 EU trading partners are still struggling with new paperwork requirements and disrupted logistics, two weeks after the country left the Single Market and Customs Union.

- Tariffs are 0% from the UK-EU
- Tariffs average 4.5%, maximum 6.5% for other countries not covered by free trade agreements
- Rules of origin and customs declarations required from exporters and customers before products can cross borders
- Incomplete paperwork holding up trade at border
- DB Schenker pauses UK-EU operations
- Asia-Europe container rates at $4,000-6,000 as global pandemic-related shortage persists

Despite the post-Brexit free trade deal struck by UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, cross-border trade is still subject to a raft of new customs checks and procedures plus a global shortage of containers which continues to delay shipments and inflate costs.

Although tariffs have been maintained at 0%, all goods are now subject to rules of origin and other customs declarations.

Singapore petrochemical exports snap 27-month decline; up 11.5% in Dec
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Singapore's petrochemical exports in December 2020 increased by 11.5% year on year to Singapore dollar (S$) 1.25bn, ending more than two years of decline, official data showed on Monday.

The year-on-year expansion was the first recorded since August 2018, according to Enterprise Singapore.

China's 2020 GDP rises by 2.3% after 6.5% expansion in Q4
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China's GDP grew by 2.3% year on year in 2020, its slowest pace in more than four decades, after it reported a 6.5% expansion in its economy in the fourth quarter, official data showed on Monday.

France’s Total to invest $2.5bn in India’s Adani Green Energy
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/01/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--France’s Total will acquire a 20% interest  in Adani Green Energy Ltd (AGEL), along with a 50% stake in a 2.35 GWac (gigawatt alternating current) portfolio of the Indian solar developer’s operating solar assets, for a total of $2.5bn.

US WR Grace is willing to discuss sale to 40 North
By: Jane Miranda 2021/01/15 HOUSTON (ICIS)--WR Grace is willing to discuss a sale to 40 North, after the private investment firm raised its bid to $65 per share earlier this week, the US-based catalyst producer.

German chemicals reject calls to shut plants as pandemic hits hard
By: Stefan Baumgarten 2021/01/15 LONDON (ICIS)--Germany’s top chemical industry trade groups are rejecting calls to shut down plants as part of the country’s “hard lockdown” to contain the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

“A shutdown would be counter-productive, in all respects”, chemical producers group VCI and employers group BAVC said in a joint statement on Friday.

The chemical-pharmaceutical industry makes “key contributions” to containing the pandemic, the trade groups said, in vaccine production, the manufacture of essential medicines or as the most important upstream supplier for diagnostics, medical, and laboratory equipment manufacturers.

US to face heavy economic losses if trade war with China continues
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/01/15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The US economy is hurting itself if its trade war with China continues in the medium term, possibly shaving a large chunk of its GDP output with attendant massive job losses.

US' CME to launch ICIS-linked China specific origins methanol futures contract in Feb
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The CME Group aims to launch an ICIS-linked China methanol futures contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange on 22 February.

US infrastructure plan to be unveiled in February in 2nd step of massive stimulus
By Joseph Chang 2021/01/15 NEW YORK (ICIS)--US President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil details of a major US infrastructure stimulus plan in February in his first appearance before a joint session of Congress after announcing his first step of massive fiscal stimulus.

China December exports grow 18.1% year on year; imports up 6.5%
By Yvonne Shi 2021/01/14 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s total exports in December rose by 18.1% year on year to $281.9bn, according to preliminary data from the government.

Northern China LPG logistics hit by lockdowns, travel restrictions
By Lillian Ren 2021/01/14 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--LPG logistics have become challenging in northern China after a rising number of corona virus cases in Hebei, Liaoning and Heilongjiang forced a few cities into lockdowns, and led several cities to  impose travel restrictions.

Fed notes healthy US demand for PVC
By Al Greenwood 13-Jan-21 15:05 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US demand for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was healthy during the past several weeks, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday in its periodic survey of business conditions.

Virus-related restrictions in north China hit petrochemical transport
By Yvonne Shi 2021/01/13 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Coronavirus-related restrictions in parts of northern China - including Hebei province, where cases of infections recently spiked - are hitting transport of petrochemicals in the region.

PODCAST: China lockdowns could hurt chemical imports, industrial production
By Will Beacham 2021/01/12 BARCELONA (ICIS)--Major new coronavirus lockdowns in China could threaten demand for chemical imports, and hurt industrial production of products for local consumption and export.

PODCAST: Asia PE sets to see support from strong feedstock, high shipping costs
By Jasmine Khoo 2021/01/13 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Southeast Asia’s polyethylene (PE) market ended a turbulent year in 2020 with major price increases but early 2021 fundamentals suggest shipping costs and feedstock prices are still likely to drive prices in the first quarter.

Asia petrochemical shares mostly lower amid new virus-linked lockdowns
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/12 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s petrochemical shares were mostly lower on Tuesday on new lockdowns in parts of the region amid the unabated surge in coronavirus cases, which topped 90m globally.

Malaysia to impose two-week limited lockdown from 13 January
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/01/11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday that a limited lockdown will be in place for two weeks from 13 January to contain the spread of coronavirus infections in the country.

Taiwan's FPCC 2020 net income slumps 80% on lower margins
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Formosa Petrochemical Corp (FPCC) has reported an 80% decline in its 2020 net profit as margins weakened amid the coronavirus pandemic.

GPCA cancels Dubai meeting in February on worsening health situation
By: Jonathan Lopez 2021/01/11 LONDON (ICIS)--The Gulf Petrochemical Association (GPCA) annual meeting planned for February has been cancelled as the coronavirus pandemic worsens globally, the industry group said on Monday.

In the past week, coronavirus cases in the UAE have risen sharply, although the country has for the most part kept the pandemic at bay.

The GPCA meeting was due to be held in Dubai, one of the UAE’s seven emirates.

Europe butac prices surge on very tight supply, BASF force majeures continue
By Nick Cleeve 11-Jan-21 14:43 LONDON (ICIS)--European butyl acetate (butac) spot prices have risen sharply, with the ICIS midpoint reaching its highest level since March 2017.

Butac prices were assessed at €1,400-1,500/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) - an increase of €150-200/tonne.

Sources referred to prices far above the assessed range, but significant business at these levels could not be confirmed.

Supply is very tight due to major producer BASF’s active force majeures and limited availability of feedstock n-butanol (NBA).

PODCAST: Europe chemicals’ challenges for the 2020s
By: Jonathan Lopez 2021/01/11 LONDON (ICIS)--After the health crisis recedes, the European chemicals industry’s challenges will remain unchanged - sustainability, recycling and how it can achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The ICIS European news desk analyses what is in store in this podcast with News Editor Jonathan Lopez, Deputy News Editor Tom Brown, News Reporter Morgan Condon, and Insight editor Nigel Davis.

Click on the headline to hear the podcast.

Taiwan's FPCC 2020 net income slumps 80% on lower margins
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Formosa Petrochemical Corp (FPCC) has reported an 80% decline in its 2020 net profit as margins weakened amid the coronavirus pandemic.

India to impose antidumping duty on PA imports from Russia
By Priya Jestin 2021/01/11 MUMBAI (ICIS)--India will impose a five-year antidumping duty (ADD) of $159.43/tonne on phthalic anhydride (PA) imports from Russia.

India defers import certification requirements for some chemicals
By Priya Jestin 2021/01/11 MUMBAI (ICIS)--India has deferred the implementation of mandatory Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification requirement on imports of ethylene glycol, toluene, butyl acrylate, terepthalic acid and phthalic anhydride to mid-2021.

PODCAST: Europe MTBE demand to recover in Q2, methanol price pressure continues
By: Eashani Chavda 2021/01/07 LONDON (ICIS)--ICIS editors Eashani Chavda and Nazif Nazmul discuss market fundamentals and expectations for European methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and methanol.

- Winter driving season drives demand for MTBE lower in January

- Demand expected to improve by Q2 at the earliest

- Methanol market bullish on supply shortages, healthy demand

Click on the headline to hear the podcast

Qatar re-opens chemical trades within GCC after diplomatic breakthrough
By Felicia Loo 2021/01/08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--With Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members restoring relations with Qatar, polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) processors in Saudi Arabia can now supply products to the Qatari market.

PODCAST: Faltering China chemicals signal caution for 2021
By: Will Beacham 2021/01/05 BARCELONA (ICIS)--Softening chemicals demand and prices in China may be an early sign of trouble ahead for the global industry in 2021.

  • High inventories, weaker demand for China chemicals
  • Falling China prices may signal trouble ahead for recovery
  • Strong economic, chemicals recovery in H2 2020
  • Paradigm shifts apparent in 2020 will accelerate through 2021
  • Includes new demand patterns, supply chains, energy balances, circular economy, advanced manufacturing

Click on the headline to hear the podcast.

Asia manufacturing continues recovery in December
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/07 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia's manufacturing activities mostly improved in December, affirming the region's economic recovery despite a recent pick-up in coronavirus infection rates.

INSIGHT: Outlook dimming on downside risks, possible China price inflection
By Nigel Davis 2021/01/06 LONDON (ICIS)--Petrochemicals companies' fortunes have improved over the past three months as demand has strengthened and prices increased.

December IPEX up 6.5% on rising prices in Europe and the US
By Miguel Rodriguez Fernandez 2021/01/06 LONDON (ICIS)--The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) continued to climb in December, increasing by 6.54% for the month, tracking price increases for most of the major petrochemical and plastics commodities.

VIDEO: Key drivers for Asia petrochemical markets in 2021
By Soo Hwee Peh 2021/01/06 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Watch Asia managing editor Soo Hwee Peh as she shares some of the key drivers that will shape Asia's petrochemical markets this year.

East Asia and Pacific economy to expand 7.4% in 2021 - World Bank
By Nurluqman Suratman 06-Jan-21 11:55 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Economic growth in east Asia and the Pacific is projected at 7.4% in 2021, reversing an estimated contraction of 0.9% in 2020, led by a strong rebound in China, the World Bank said late on Tuesday.

INSIGHT: ESG to drive chemicals growth and investment in 2021 and beyond
By Joseph Chang 2020/12/18 NEW YORK (ICIS)--As we say goodbye, or good riddance to 2020, one key positive development for the chemicals industry is the sharpening focus on ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) - a trend that will only accelerate in the years to come and offer great opportunity to develop new business models.

INSIGHT: Sustainability and recycling set to dominate 2021 agenda
By: Helen McGeough 2020/12/18 LONDON (ICIS)--The events of this year may have been unpredictable but 2021 offers no improved certainty given the continuing effects of the coronavirus pandemic and onset of a global economic downturn.

Sustainability may have slipped in the focus, if not agenda, of consumers to corporates alike due to other priorities, but it is set to return with fervour next year.

There had been an expectation that demand from the packaging sector would grow sharply in 2020 from recycled high density polyethylene (R-HDPE) and recycled polypropylene (R-PP) amid the growing focus on sustainability, but much of this growth was curtailed by the impact of coronavirus.

Backlogs at testing facilities, concerns about entering new supply chains amid the pandemic, and workforce and financial pressures led firms to concentrate on core products.

Japan raises fiscal year ‘21 GDP growth forecast to 4% on stimulus
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/12/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan's government on Friday raised its economic growth forecast for the next fiscal year - starting April 2021 - on a price-adjusted real terms to 4.0% from 3.4% previously, supported by its latest coronavirus stimulus package.

Singapore Nov petchem exports down 18.5%, NODX slips 4.9%
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/12/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Singapore's petrochemical exports fell by 18.5% year on year to Singapore dollar (S$) 955.8m in November, weighing on overall non-oil domestic exports (NODX), official data showed on Thursday.

US blacklists China, UAE companies over sale of Iran petrochemicals
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/12/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The US has blacklisted on Wednesday four companies based in China and the UAE for facilitating exports of Iranian petrochemicals.

Sanctions were imposed on UAE’s Alpha Tech Trading FZE and Petroliance Trading Fze; and China’s Donghai International Ship Management Ltd and Petrochem South East Ltd for facilitating sales of Iranian petrochemicals by Hong Kong-based Triliance Petrochemical, which was blacklisted in January 2020.

VIDEO: China’s petrochemical industry expected to see stronger growth in 2021
By Tahir Ikram 2020/12/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Watch Asia News Editor Tahir Ikram discuss the outlook for China's petrochemical industry next year.

PODCAST: China xylene prices rise on upbeat market sentiment
By Veronica Zhang 2020/12/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s xylenes prices posted notable gains from end-November after a sustained narrow fluctuations, despite weaker demand. In this episode of the ICIS Asia podcast, Jady Ma speaks with Veronica Zhang, analyst for the ICIS China Xylenes market, on the recent market trend and outlook.

Fed votes to hold US interest rates near zero, raises 2020 GDP outlook
By: Adam Yanelli 2020/12/16 HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US Federal Reserve voted on Wednesday to hold interest rates at 0-0.25% and committed to keeping rates at current levels until the economy recovers.

Japan’s au Jibun Bank flash manufacturing PMI rises to 49.7 in Dec
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/12/16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--au Jibun Bank’s flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for Japan rose from 49.0 in November to 49.7 in December as production and new orders weakened at a slower rate, the Japanese bank said on Wednesday.

Sipchem, Linde sign JV deal for industrial gases projects in Saudi Arabia
By Nurluqman Suratman2020/12/16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Sahara International Petrochemical Co (Sipchem) and industrial gas firm Linde have signed an exclusive agreement to set up a joint venture for developing industrial gas projects and networks in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi producer said.

China Jan-Nov property development investments rise 6.8% on year
By Fanny Zhang 15-Dec-20 14:21 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s property development investments in January-November 2020 increased by 6.8% year on year, industry data showed on Tuesday. Investments in housing development during the period rose to 7.4%, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

China November industry output grows 7.0% year on year
By Fanny Zhang 15-Dec-20 14:08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s industry output in November expanded by 7.0% year on year, up from October’s growth of 6.9%, official data showed on Tuesday. In the first 11 months of 2020, industry output was up 2.3% year on year, up from 1.8% posted in January-October, data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Tuesday.

Hafnia oil tanker hit by “external source” in Saudi Arabia
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/12/14 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Shipping company Hafnia said on Monday that one of its oil tankers in Saudi Arabia was hit by an “an external source”, “causing an explosion and subsequent fire onboard” the vessel.

Corrected: India November vehicle sales grow 9.8% on year; production up 1.7%
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/12/11 Correction: In the ICIS story headlined "India November vehicle sales grow 11.0% on year; production up 2.7%", dated 11 December 2020, please read in the headline ... sales grow 9.8% on year; production up 1.7% … instead of ... vehicle sales grow 11.0% on year; production up 2.7% .... The Society of India Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) officially revised its entire November vehicle data. A corrected story follows.

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--India’s total vehicle sales in November increased by 9.8% year on year to 1.89m units, while production grew a more moderate 1.7% to about 2.3m units, industry data showed.

Rates for shipping containers continue to skyrocket amid shortage in Asia
By Adam Yanelli 2020/12/11 HOUSTON (ICIS)--A continued shortage of shipping containers in Asia is putting upward pressure on freight costs – where some importers are paying three times more than normal – and delaying delivery times as securing space to ship goods has become more difficult.

November IPEX up 11% on soaring prices in Asia
By Miguel Rodriguez Fernandez 2020/12/10 LONDON (ICIS)--The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) continued to climb in November, increasing by 11.18% for the month, tracking price increases for most of the major petrochemical and plastics commodities.

Oil prices higher on vaccine optimism, attack on Iraqi oilfield
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/12/10 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Oil prices were trading higher on Thursday on hopes that demand will improve once the coronavirus vaccines are rolled out, with further support from supply disruption worries following an attack on Iraqi oilfields.

Gains were tempered by an unexpected increase in US crude stocks last week.

Japan’s Showa Denko sets up third high-purity gas base in China
By Fanny Zhang 2020/12/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan’s Showa Denko (SDK) said on Wednesday that its Chinese subsidiary Shanghai Showa Chemicals has set up a new high-purity gas branch in Shaanxi province.

China auto industry recovery faces challenges from Europe chip shortage
By Fanny Zhang 2020/12/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s automotive production will have to hurdle through a shortage of electronic chips from Europe well into 2021, which could derail the industry’s fragile recovery amid the pandemic.

VIDEO: China acetic acid prices hit two-year high on tight supply
By Jady Ma 2020/12/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Watch industry analyst Jady Ma share some insights on China's acetic acid which is surging to a two-year high in December.

PODCAST: Economists more optimistic on vaccines but logistics, Brexit risks remain
By: Will Beacham 2020/12/08 BARCELONA (ICIS)--New economic forecasts have upgraded prospects for 2021 globally as the vaccination programme kicks in, but logistics problems and the UK's withdrawal from the EU could threaten any recovery.

- Economists upgrade expectations for 2021
- But recovery may be held back by logistics challenges
- Spare industrial capacity, higher capital spending may benefit chemicals, economy
- But a return to business as usual unlikely

Click on the headline to see the podcast.

Evonik coronavirus vaccine capabilities could net big payday - bank
By: Tom Brown 2020/12/08 LONDON (ICIS)--Evonik’s dominance in a technology space necessary for the administration of the newer class of vaccines against Covid-19 could significantly buoy the German producer’s earnings over the next five years, according to Baader Bank.

The Germany-based firm has a strong market position in lipid nanoparticles necessary for the transportation of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines such as those developed to fight the coronavirus pandemic by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

A new form of treatment, mRNA-based vaccines train the body’s cells to produce a protein triggering an immune response, rather than using an inert or weakened form of a bacteria to drive the immunisation process.

Japan revises up Q3 GDP growth to 22.9%; Y73.6tr stimulus announced
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/12/08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan’s third-quarter economic growth was revised up to 22.9% year on year from the initial estimate of 21.4%, staging a strong rebound from a deep slump in the previous three months, official data showed on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia's Advanced Petrochemical to build new PDH, PP units
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/12/07 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Saudi Arabia’s Advanced Petrochemical plan to build a new propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit and a polypropylene (PP) plant in Al Jubail.

Its 85%-owned subsidiary Advanced Polyolefins Company (APOC) has secured a Saudi riyal (SR) 3bn ($800m) eight-year loan from the Saudi International Development Fund (SIDF) to partly fund the project.

China November exports grow 21.1% year on year; imports up 4.5%
By Yvonne Shi 2020/12/07 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s total exports in November surged by 21.1% year on year to $268.1bn, according to preliminary data from the government.

Rating agency lowers expectations for 2021 global GDP growth as new coronavirus cases surge
By: Adam Yanelli 2020/12/04 HOUSTON (ICIS)--A new surge of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the US and Europe - and the possible lockdown measures that could follow - drove S&P Global Ratings to lower its full year global GDP growth projection for 2021.

Germany's manufacturing orders exceed pre-pandemic levels, chem-pharma remains lower
By: Stefan Baumgarten 2020/12/04 LONDON (ICIS)--Germany’s October manufacturing orders exceeded pre-pandemic levels from February for the first time this year, driven by auto industry orders, according to official data on Friday.

Orders were up 0.8% compared with February 2020, before the pandemic hit Europe in earnest in March causing a sharp fall in economic activity.

Month on month, orders rose 2.9% in October, from September; year on year, they were up 1.8% from October 2019.

CHEM-PHARMA NOT THERE YET
In the chemical-pharmaceutical industry, however, orders rose month on month but are yet to reach pre-pandemic levels.

PODCAST: China ACN prices hit year-to-date high in November on tight supply
By Dan Lu 2020/12/04 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s acrylonitrile (ACN) prices surged to the year-to-date high in November amid growing speculations, bolstered by tight supply.

INTERVIEW: Aramco seeks to expand global footprint in chemicals with focus on India, China - CEO
By Joseph Chang 2020/12/03 NEW YORK (ICIS)--Saudi Aramco is targeting chemicals investments in India and China as part of its global integrated oil-to-downstream chemicals strategy, its CEO said on Thursday.

By Clare Pennington 2020/12/03 LONDON (ICIS)--LNG analyst Alex Froley and senior reporter Clare Pennington share their views on the growing trend of carbon neutral cargoes, how companies are each taking their own approach, and what growth in the carbon market might look like in future years.

Pandemic slows down energy efficiency progress to decade low – IEA
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/12/03 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The coronavirus pandemic has slowed down global progress in energy efficiency to a decade low, posing a threat to meeting international climate goals. This makes the next three years critical to reverse the “worrying trend”, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

“Global primary energy intensity - a key indicator of how efficiently the world’s economic activity uses energy - is expected to improve by less than 1% this year, the weakest rate since 2010,” according to IEA’s Energy Efficiency 2020 report released on Thursday.

“This is well below the level of progress needed to achieve the world’s shared goals for addressing climate change, reducing air pollution and increasing access to energy,” it said.

Investment in energy efficiency worldwide is on course to fall by 9% in 2020 amid the economic recession triggered by the pandemic, the IEA said.

China underpins Asia Nov manufacturing recovery; virus worries remain
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/12/03 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia's manufacturing recovery continued in November led by a strong performance in China, but business confidence is sputtering across the region as more restrictions are imposed in key external markets amid the unabated spike in coronavirus infections.

Eurozone’s chems producer prices recover in October but remain 4.5% lower year on year
By: Jonathan Lopez LONDON (ICIS)--Chemicals producer prices in the eurozone rose slightly in October month on month but remain well below their October 2019 levels, statistical office Eurostat said on Wednesday.

Chemicals producer prices in the 19-country currency union were in October 4.5% lower than a year prior, while in the wider 27-country EU, prices stood 4.4% lower.

The year-on-year decreases, however, have been narrowing since the falls they posted in May in the midst of European lockdowns to contain the spread of the pandemic.

The year-on-year falls stood in May at 9.4% in the eurozone, and at 9.0% in the EU.

Thailand's Global Green Chemicals starts up new glycerine unit
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/12/02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Thailand's oleochemicals producer Global Green Chemicals (GGC) started commercial operations at its new 20,000 tonne/year refined glycerine unit on 1 December.

BLOG: Sustainability, the pandemic, demographics and geopolitics – how petchem companies will define their success
By ICIS Editorial 2020/12/02 LONDON (ICIS)--Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections.

The four megatrends - sustainability, the pandemic, demographics and geopolitics - are reshaping how petrochemicals and other companies must operate.

On sustainability, petrochemicals producers face the twin pressures of refinery closures threatening feedstock supply as brand owners demand packaging made from plastic waste.

VIDEO: China crude stocks in Shandong, Tianjin ports hit 2.5-month low
By Angie Chen 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Angie Chen, analyst at ICIS, discusses falling crude stocks at China’s Shandong and Tianjin ports.

  • Crude stocks at lowest since mid-September
  • Inflows down nearly 19% on inclement weather
  • Offtake strong as Shandong teapot refiners run at high rates

AFPM moves US IPC to mid-May from March
By Al Greenwood 2020/12/01 The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) is moving the date for its annual International Petrochemical Conference (IPC) to 23-25 May, it said on Tuesday.

China to launch ICIS-linked PX swap contracts in Q1 2021
By Anna Xiang 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China will launch in the first quarter of 2021 a central counterparty clearing in Shanghai for paraxylene (PX) swaps contracts, which will adopt ICIS’ quotes as benchmark for monthly settlement.

The Shanghai Clearing House (SHCH) will use ICIS’ daily PX CFR (cost & freight) CMP (China Main Ports) assessment as basis to generate the monthly average price, after multiplying the central parity rate of Chinese yuan against the US dollar published by the People's Bank of China (PBoC) on the same day.

ExxonMobil to write off as much as $20bn in assets; cuts capex
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--US energy major ExxonMobil plans to write down as much as $20bn in assets and cut its 2021 capital expenditures (capex) to $16bn-$19bn as it prioritizes investments in chemical performance products in the near term.

Annual capex thereafter until 2025 will be $20bn-25bn, down from the company’s original budget of $30bn-$35bn, the company announced late on Monday.

Caixin's China Nov manufacturing PMI rises to 54.9 as order volumes rise
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Caixin's China general manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 54.9 in November from 53.6 in October as order volumes surged following a strong recovery from the coronavirus outbreak earlier in the year, the Chinese media firm said on Tuesday.

"Chinese manufacturers signalled the strongest improvement in operating conditions for a decade in November, as growth of both output and new orders accelerated to 10-year highs," it said.

India plastic processors seek ban/restrictions on raw material exports
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association (AIPM) is seeking an immediate ban or restrictions on exports of raw materials as domestic plastic processors are reeling from the double whammy of surging feedstock prices and demand weakness amid the pandemic.

In a letter to India Prime Minister Narendra Modi dated 26 November 2020, AIPM put forth urgent requests to help save the plastics processing industry following what is considers as a “dramatic and unnatural increase in price of raw material (resin)” by domestic manufacturers.

The group is asking Modi’s government to further consider immediate suspension of any imposition of non-tariff barriers to imports of raw materials; a creation of a petrochemical regulatory body; and a launch of a probe into the price spike in resin prices by local manufacturers.

VIDEO: Asia EVA faces challenges as new capacities come on stream
By Helen Lee 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Senior Editor Helen Lee discusses the challenges ahead for the ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) market in Asia as capacity additions loom.

VIDEO: China crude stocks in Shandong, Tianjin ports hit 2.5-month low
By Angie Chen 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Angie Chen, analyst at ICIS, discusses falling crude stocks at China’s Shandong and Tianjin ports.

ANALYSIS AND RESOURCES

ICIS chemicals coronavirus Impact Demand Model November 2020 by willbeacham on Scribd