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

Author: Will Beacham

2021/03/08

Attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities on Sunday sent crude surging by more than 2% on Monday. The first attack on 7 March was made by “a drone, coming from the sea” at one of the petroleum tank farms in Ras Tanura Port in eastern Saudi Arabia, a spokesperson from the Saudi Ministry of Energy said in a statement posted on state-owned Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Another attack came in the evening on the facilities of Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest crude exporter.

Separately China’s crude imports reached 89.57m tonnes in January-February 2021, up by 4.1% year on year, official customs data showed over the weekend.

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

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LATEST HEADLINES

Attacks on Saudi Arabia facilities send Brent crude surging above $70/bbl
By Pearl Bantillo 08-Mar-21 10:57 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities on Sunday sent crude surging by more than 2% on Monday, with Brent crude now trading at above $71/bbl.

China’s Jan-Feb crude imports rise 4.1% year on year
By Fanny Zhang 08-Mar-21 14:08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s crude imports reached 89.57m tonnes in January-February 2021, up by 4.1% year on year, official customs data showed over the weekend.

China sets 2021 economic growth target at over 6%
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/05 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday announced that the country has set a GDP growth target of more than 6% for 2021.

ExxonMobil to cut 300 jobs in Singapore by end-2021 amid pandemic
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/03 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--ExxonMobil is cutting about 300 jobs in Singapore - or about 7% of its workforce in the southeast Asian country - by the end of the year, citing "unprecedented market conditions" brought about by the pandemic.

Singapore manufacturing to continue recovery on improving external markets
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/03 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Singapore's manufacturing sector is poised to see further recovery this year as overall exports continue to grow amid an improvement in demand from its key external markets.

Thailand petrochemical firms eye better '21 amid oil-led price spikes
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Thailand’s petrochemical firms are expected to generate better earnings in 2021 on the back of rising product prices, but oversupply in China and slow growth in some end-user markets in Asia could temper profitability.

India reverts to growth mode in fiscal Q3, full-year GDP to shrink 8%
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/03/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--India’s economy returned to growth mode in October-December 2020, after two quarters of pandemic-induced deep recession, raising hopes of a strong recovery in the coming fiscal year.

Asia petchem markets bullishness set to continue amid tightening supply, high oil prices
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Across the board bullishness seen in Asia's petrochemical markets is likely to continue in the near term on tight supply in key China market ahead of its peak turnaround season, along with robust downstream demand and crude oil prices.

au Jibun Bank's Japan manufacturing PMI rises to 51.4 in Feb
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/03/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--au Jibun Bank’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for Japan rose to 51.4 in February from 49.8 in January, indicating the strongest improvement in the health of the sector since December 2018, the Japanese bank said on Monday.

VIDEO: China's BG market propelled by strong upstream, limited supply
By Bonnie Yin 2021/02/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)-- Watch markets editor Bonnie Yin discuss the recent developments in the China's glycol ether (BG) market which has surged after the Lunar New Year holiday, driven by cost pressure from upstream feedstock markets and limited offers.

VIDEO: Asia ABS propped by US Gulf Storms, strong post-Lunar New Year sentiment
By Julia Tan 2021/02/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Markets reporter Julia Tan discusses the impact of recent polar storm-related production outages in the US on the Asian acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) spot market and related upstream markets. The production losses in the US has indirectly supported market sentiment for Asian spot markets amid stronger post-Lunar New Year purchasing attitudes.

PODCAST: China petrochemicals extend gains on tight supply, US disruptions
By Yvonne Shi 2021/02/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s petrochemicals market have strengthened after the Lunar New Year holiday. In this episode of the ICIS Asia podcast, Jady Ma speaks with Yvonne Shi on recent developments and outlook for the market.

PODCAST: MEG global markets deal with fallout from US Gulf production disruption after ice storm
By Melissa Hurley 2021/02/25 LONDON (ICIS)--Global monoethylene glycol (MEG) markets deal with fallout from US storms in February, causing all glycol suppliers to declare force majeure.

Buyers question indexation amid Asian spot LNG volatility
By Hendrian Sukardi 2021/02/25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--A range of northeast Asian LNG buyers are reconsidering price benchmark options after a huge jump in volatility on Asian spot LNG prices in recent weeks.

Thailand's IVL swings to Q4 net profit; eyes better demand in 2021
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Thailand-listed Indorama Ventures Ltd (Ltd) expects demand recovery for its products to continue this year after it swung to a net profit of Thai baht (Bt) 1.61bn ($54m) in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Fourth-quarter earnings were driven by stronger production volumes and contributions from its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) business.

Mideast chemicals supply tight amid US outages, strong China demand
By Felicia Loo 2021/02/25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Supply tightness prevails in the Middle East chemicals markets and it remains a challenge to scour the region for cargoes amid winter storm-related outages in the US and strong demand coming from China.

The ramifications are felt keenly in the polymer markets.

For both polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), selling sentiment is strong on expectations that demand from the US and Latin American buyers will surge, which would affect the Middle East’s allocations to other regions.

BLOG: China 2021 PX imports could fall by 64%, with styrene imports down 59% By ICIS Editorial 2021/02/24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson. There is a lot of focus on US production losses resulting from the severe winter weather and how the losses have tightened markets in the US, Latin America and Europe. Even Asia has also been affected to a lesser extent, as cargoes from the Middle East and Asia that would have stayed within these regions have been diverted.

US ethanol, biomass-based diesel RIN prices near all-time highs - EIA
By Adam Yanelli 2020/02/24 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Prices for US renewable identification number (RIN) credits have been rising steadily and are near all-time highs, largely because of reduced fuel production due to softer demand amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

Asia petrochemicals at multi-year highs on strong crude, bullish China markets
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Key petrochemical markets in Asia have hit multi-year highs, driven up by strong crude gains following winter storm-related US output disruptions, and robust post-holiday activity in China.

Japan's Mitsui Chemicals restarts Chiba cracker after quake-related shutdown
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Mitsui Chemicals restarted the cracker at its Ichihara Works site in Chiba prefecture on 23 February and is in the process of restarting other downstream units, the Japanese producer said on Wednesday.

PODCAST: US Gulf Coast storm outages risk global chemical supply crunch
By: Will Beacham 2021/02/22 BARCELONA (ICIS)—The US Gulf Coast storm impact could be worse than Hurricane Harvey, and cause a global supply crunch for major product groups.

  • Polar storm impact could be worse than Hurricane Harvey
  • 100% of US capacity knocked out for major commodities
  • Polar storm comes on top of pandemic-related shipping container, semi-conductor disruption
  • Supply was already tight in some value chains

au Jibun Bank flash manufacturing PMI rises to 50.6 in Feb
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/19 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--au Jibun Bank’s flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for Japan rose to 50.6 in February from the final reading of 49.8 in January on improved export orders, the Japanese bank said on Friday.

A PMI reading above 50 indicates an expansion in the manufacturing economy.

Forecasting Chinese LNG demand: Why a monthly update is superior to a static yearly estimate, in an increasingly volatile market
By Alex Siow 2021/02/19 ICIS forecasts China to import between 4.7 million to 5.3 million tonnes of LNG per month during February to April 2021. This is on average a 12% year-on-year (yoy) increase compared to the same months last year. On an annual basis, we are forecasting China to import 76m tonnes this year, an 11% yoy increase.

But this is only a valid prediction for now, within these few weeks. By early next month, our forecast number could have been updated and changed, depending on events that might have happened between now and early next month. Or it could be maintained, also depending on events.

US Gulf Coast storm outages rise, send ripples round global markets
By Will Beacham 2021/02/18 BARCELONA (ICIS)—The US polar storm has now shut down 84% of US polypropylene (PP) capacity, 65% of ethylene and devastated other important products, sending ripples around global chemical markets prices soaring.

More chemical plants and refineries across the Gulf Coast region have been hit by prolonged power and feedstock outages caused by freezing weather, snow and ice which have also halted logistics networks. More bad weather, forecast for later in the week, may prolong the disruption.

Norway’s Yara, partners to electrify, decarbonize Porsgrunn ammonia plant
By: Pearl Bantillo 2021/02/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Fertilizer firm Yara International has signed a deal with two industrial firms to electrify and decarbonize its ammonia facility in Porsgrunn, Norway.

The Porsgrunn plant produces 500,000 tonnes/year of ammonia, according to ICIS data.

The company has signed a letter of intent with fellow Norwegians Statkraft and Aker Horizons on the project, also with the aim of enabling the hydrogen economy and accelerating the green energy transition, Yara said in a statement on Thursday.

PODCAST: Gulf petrochemicals special focus with GPCA secretary general Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun
By Will Beacham 2021/02/16 BARCELONA (ICIS)--Arabian Gulf petrochemical companies are committed to pursuing a low carbon future while battling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and increasing self-sufficiency in China, according to the Gulf Petrochemical Association (GPCA).

  • Transition to a low carbon future presents opportunities for Gulf Cooperation (GCC) chemicals
  • Region is committed to boost recycling plus new, greener technologies
  • GCC chemicals managed to grow volumes in 2020, despite the pandemic

China petrochemicals lead Asia gains on strong crude, US supply disruptions
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/02/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s petrochemical trades were brisk upon re-opening on Thursday after a week-long hiatus, leading gains in key Asian markets amid surging crude prices and US supply disruptions.

Prices in the Chinese commodities futures markets surged on the first trading day after the Lunar New Year holiday, with styrene monomer (SM) logging an 11% spike as of midday, largely on concerns over tight post-holiday supply.

Oil prices extend strong gains on US Gulf Coast cold snap
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Oil prices rose by more than $1/bbl on Thursday, with Brent on its fifth day of gains, as severe cold conditions in Texas and surrounding regions in the US led to refinery shutdowns and production cuts.

At 03:30 GMT, Brent crude was trading at $65.18/bbl, off the intra-day high of $65.52/bbl, while WTI crude was at $61.80/bbl.

Japan's Showa Denko swings to 2020 loss as petrochemical profit slumps
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/02/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan's Showa Denko has incurred a full-year 2020 net loss of yen (Y) 76.3bn ($720m), reversing the profit in 2019, while earnings from its petrochemical segment slumped amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan January chemical exports rise 23.6%; overall shipments up 6.4%
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan's total chemical exports in January rose by 23.6% year on year to yen (Y) 788.7bn ($7.4bn), while overall shipments abroad were up by 6.4%, official data showed on Wednesday.

Exports of organic chemicals fell by 7.2% year on year to Y139.4bn in January while shipments of plastic materials abroad increased by 30.4% to Y224.8bn, Ministry of Finance data showed.

Singapore’s Jan petrochemical exports rise by 10.1%; NODX up 12.8%
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Singapore's petrochemical exports rose by 10.1% year on year to Singapore dollar (S$) 1.14bn in January, supporting the growth in overall non-oil domestic exports (NODX), official data showed on Wednesday.

The country’s NODX rose by 12.8% year on year to S$15.1bn in January, accelerating from the 6.8% expansion in December 2020, Enterprise Singapore data showed.

Japan January chemical exports rise 23.6%; overall shipments up 6.4%
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan's total chemical exports in January rose by 23.6% year on year to yen (Y) 788.7bn ($7.4bn), while overall shipments abroad were up by 6.4%, official data showed on Wednesday.

Thailand's PTTGC Q4 net profit surges on strong margins as prices spike
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--PTT Global Chemical's (PTTGC) fourth-quarter net profit surged to Thai baht (Bt) 6.41bn from the same period last year on the back of higher product prices, with sales up 3% year on year.

Its full-year 2020 results, however, reflected a general weakness in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with a 20% decline in sales nearly wiping out its profit.

Singapore to see strong GDP rebound after 2020 contraction
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Singapore's economy is expected to see a strong rebound this year after contracting by 5.4% in 2020, supported by a robust manufacturing sector as its outward-oriented sectors continue to benefit from rising external demand.

VIDEO: Europe R-PET colourless flake, post-consumer bottles prices jump in February
By Matt Tudball 2021/02/12 LONDON (ICIS)--Senior Editor for Recycling, Matt Tudball, looks at the outcome of the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) monthly price discussions for February.

- Large jumps in colourless flake and post-consumer bottle (PCB) prices

- Virgin PET prices still a key driver for R-PET demand

- Flake buyers expecting bullish March, April

Shell commits to growing chemicals as part of low-carbon strategy
By: Will Beacham 2021/02/11 BARCELONA (ICIS)--Shell on Thursday committed to growing its chemicals business, setting targets for the division as it transitions the company towards net carbon neutrality.

In a strategy update, the company’s CEO Ben van Beurden laid out targets to increase cash generation from chemicals by $1-2bn/year and reduce exposure to commodity chemicals by around 70% by 2030. He also reiterated a target to process 1m tonnes/year of plastic waste for recycling by 2025.

Van Beurden said the company’s aim – announced in the third quarter of 2020 – of reducing its portfolio of 14 oil refining sites globally to six energy and chemical parks by 2030 is well underway through the divestment and closure of some assets.

Signs of healthy recovery unable to prop up crude demand as transport drags - OPEC
By: Jonathan Lopez 2021/02/11 LONDON (ICIS)--There are early “signs of a healthy recovery” in 2021 but the recovery in crude demand will lag as transportation is not set to fully recover any time soon, the producing cartel OPEC said on Thursday.

Petrochemicals activity, however, will remain healthy and continue to support demand from crude oil, which has found in the industrial sectors an ally to keep a determining role in the global energy mix as transport electrifies in coming decades.

Before transport electrifies, however, the gasoline and derivatives used to fuel mobility will still remain somewhat redundant in 2021 as demand from those sectors is not set to recover pre-pandemic levels this year.

India’s IGPL plans new 80,000 tonne/year PA line
By Priya Jestin 2021/02/11 MUMBAI (ICIS)--India’s IG Petrochemicals Ltd (IGPL) plans to set up a greenfield 80,000 tonnes/year phthalic anhydride (PA) plant in western Gujarat state, it said in a statement.

The company’s board of directors approved the setting up of the Indian rupees (Rs) 6bn ($82m) chemical complex at Gujarat which will contain the PA line and other derivative plants, it said in the filing on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 9 February.

The new plant will commence operations in three years, the company said, adding that it planned to raise funds for the new project through internal accruals and loans.

The new PA capacity will help IG Petrochemicals meet increasing demand in downstream products like paints, plasticizers¸ polyvinyl chloride (PVC), unsaturated polyester resins etc, IGPL said in its statement.

PODCAST: MEG global supply tightness prevails
By Melissa Hurley 2021/02/08 LONDON (ICIS)--Global monoethylene glycol (MEG) supply tightness remains a key issue across Europe, US and Asia.

Asia MEG prices rise to 16-month peak
Heavy turnaround schedule in the Middle East
East China MEG inventories rise 4.4% to 681,000 tonnes
Quicker Lunar New Year demand recovery due to less travel
European short-term supply eases; spot-stable-to-soft
US diethylene glycol (DEG) spot supply remains sold out
MEG outages could extend tight US MEG supply into spring

S Korea’s LG Chem starts push for renewable energy across worksites
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/02/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--South Korean producer LG Chem will fully run its Yeosu nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) plant, along with its Osan Tech Centre, on renewable energy this year.

The company is procuring an annual 120 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of renewable energy through the Korean RE100 (Renewable Energy 100) system called “Green Premium” Program.

PODCAST: Asia phenol, acetone supported by tight supply, strong derivatives
By Jasmine Khoo 2021/02/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s phenol and acetone prices have been supported by snug supply, arising from plant turnarounds and reduced production across Asia, Europe and the US.

In this episode of the ICIS Asia podcast, Senior Editor Jasmine Khoo speaks with Angeline Soh, editor in charge of the Asia-Pacific acetone and phenol analysis on the recent development.

US January Port Houston chem tanker arrivals rise by 5.6% year on year
By Adam Yanelli 2021/02/09 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Chemical tanker arrivals at Port Houston started the year off on a positive note, rising by 5.6% compared with the same month a year ago, while overall arrivals are down by 12% as global economies continue to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

IMF raises LatAm GDP forecast to 4.1% for 2021
By Janet Miranda 2021/02/08 HOUSTON (ICIS)--The Latin American and Caribbean 2021 growth forecast has been revised to 4.1% from 3.6%, based on stronger than expected performance in 2020, due to expanding vaccination efforts and a better growth outlook for the US, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Monday.

PODCAST: drive to lower carbon means no new steam crackers after 2030
By Will Beacham 2021/02/08 BARCELONA (ICIS)—The climate change agenda means that no new steam crackers will be built beyond 2030 as the chemical industry harnesses new technologies and investors steer clear of high carbon projects.

  • Coronavirus makes oil refinery rationalisation more urgent
  • No new steam crackers will be built from 2030
  • Decarbonisation, sustainability will drive future investment decisions
  • Chemical companies will harness new technologies like green hydrogen, electric furnaces

Borealis to focus on chemicals, polyolefins as OMV consolidates position
By: Tom Brown 2021/02/08 LONDON (ICIS)--Borealis is tightening its focus on base chemicals and polymers as it prepares to divest the bulk of its fertilizers business after shareholder OMV doubled down on its position in the Austria-headquartered petrochemicals producer.

DIVESTMENT AND REALIGNMENT
After several years of peaks and troughs for its fertilizers operations, Borealis announced last week that it is preparing to put the business in play.

With no set timeline to divest, the sale of the nitrogen and melamine operations will represent a total break from the fertilizer sector for the company, with the exception of a Benelux player with two production plants it continues to hold a stake in.

Thailand’s PTTGC pursues feedstock flexibility with new project
By Pearl Bantillo 2021/02/08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Thailand's petrochemical major PTT Global Chemical is looking at increasing the share of propane in its feedstock mix under a new project coming on stream two years from now.

Canada’s January light vehicle sales fall 17.4% amid pandemic lockdowns
By Stefan Baumgarten 2021/02/05 TORONTO (ICIS)--Canadian sales of new light vehicles are estimated to have fallen by 17.4% year on year in January, to 90,890 units, according to the latest data by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC) on Friday.

US industrial energy consumption to return to ’19 levels faster than other sectors - EIA
By Adam Yanelli 2021/02/03 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US consumption of petroleum and other liquids from the industrial sector, primarily for use as feedstocks in the production of plastics, could return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023 in a best-case scenario, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

US will return to '19 energy consumption levels by '29 - EIA
By Al Greenwood 2021/02/03 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US energy consumption should return to 2019 levels by 2029, the nation's Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

BLOG: The new oil shocks: semiconductor supply shortages threaten the global economy
By ICIS Editorial 2021/02/03 LONDON (ICIS)--Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections. The oil supply shocks of the 1970s are at risk of being replaced by the semiconductor supply shocks of the 2020s. There are just three global suppliers of high-value semiconductors that might soon become two, down from 25 in 2000. Eighty percent of all types of semiconductor production is located in northeast Asia.

Europe PVC outlook balanced to tight in early 2021 as prices trend upward
By: Chris Barker 2021/02/02 LONDON (ICIS)--The outlook for European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) remains balanced to tight in early 2021, with contract prices rising for January as global availability is still limited and prices high.

For January, increases were proposed in a wide range of €35-100/tonne at the beginning of the month. Final settlements were also in a relatively wide range, with some negotiations concluded with increases of €40-50/tonne in northwest Europe and the Mediterranean, according to buyers and producers.

Downstream demand is also respectable with the European construction market expected to rebound and return to growth in 2021 after suffering damage from the pandemic in 2020.

PODCAST: chemical sector must step up circular investments from tens to hundreds of millions
By Will Beacham 01-Feb-21 15:32 BARCELONA (ICIS)--Chemical companies need to take the circular economy more seriously and invest hundreds rather than tens of millions in recycling.

  • Investors now seek companies active in circular economy
  • Risk that brand owners may seize initiative from chemical companies
  • Chemical companies need to step up circular investments
  • 2021 could be the year of circular economy ahead of COP26 meeting in November
  • China chemicals threatened by persistent shortage of containers, soaring rates
  • Electricity shortage, resurgent pandemic, microchip shortage also pose risks
    China will move towards self-sufficiency in paraxylene (PX), styrene (SM) and polypropylene (PP)

Click on the headline to hear the podcast.

VIDEO: Asia/Mideast Groups I, II base oils find footing amid tight global supply
By Matthew Chong 2021/02/02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Senior Editors Matthew Chong and Izham Ahmad discuss recent developments in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East base oils markets.

Asian chemical demand sentiment mixed post-Lunar New Year

By Felicia Loo 2021/02/02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Unlike previous years, post-Lunar New Year chemical markets in 2021 will be uniquely different in China - the world's number-two economy - as well as in other parts of Asia where the holiday is celebrated.

At issue, the extent of plastics demand recovery in Asia remains to be seen on prospects of businesses resuming earlier than past years, when factories shut for two to four weeks during the holiday in China.

US WR Grace reaches standstill agreement with 40 North
By Janet Miranda 2021/02/01 HOUSTON (ICIS)--WR Grace entered into a letter agreement with 40 North on Monday, after it announced its decision to discuss a sale to 40 North’s upped bid of $65 per share, the US-catalyst producer said.

Caixin's China Jan manufacturing PMI dips to 51.5 in January amid lower output

By Nuuqman Suratman 2021/02/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Caixin's China general manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell to 51.5 in January from 53.0 in December as business conditions improved at the slowest rate for seven months, the Chinese media firm said on Monday.

au Jibun Bank manufacturing PMI slips to 49.8 in Jan
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/02/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--au Jibun Bank’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for Japan fell to 49.8 in January from 50.0 in December 2020 on a drop in output as rising coronavirus cases had a renewed impact on the economy, the Japanese bank said on Monday.

PODCAST: Asia Special Report - Base oils
By Jasmine Khoo 2021/02/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--2020 could be summed up as a topsy-turvy year for the base oils industry. The slump in Asian base oils prices in Q2 last year due to lockdowns followed by the rapid recovery in prices to even higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019 has astounded market players.

VIDEO: Asia butyl acetate prices rise on tight supply
By Melanie Wee 2021/02/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Watch ICIS senior editor Melanie Wee discuss the latest developments in the Asia butyl acetate (butac) market and its key drivers.

LyondellBasell plans to run Houston refinery at 80% in Q1
By Al Greenwood 2021/01/29 HOUSTON (ICIS)--LyondellBasell expects to run its refinery in Houston at 80% of its throughput capacity during the first quarter, the same rate as the fourth quarter, the CEO said on Friday.

VIDEO: Asian liquid tanker freight utilisation under pressure
By Ai Teng Lim 2021/01/29 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Watch ICIS editor Lim Ai Teng discuss the latest developments in the Asian chemical shipping market,

BLOG: Final China PE '20 numbers and new '21 outlook as logistics, pandemic threats increase

By ICIS Editorial 2021/01/29 LONDON (ICIS)--Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections. China's first-quarter growth looks set to decline over Q4 2020 because of the country's new pandemic outbreak and global container freight and microchip shortages.

The container freight shortage is unlikely to be resolved until Q2 with the microchip shortage forecast to last six months.

Both of these logistics challenges represent a moderate threat to China's export-led economic recovery.

Dow sees momentum in PE, PU driving earnings gains in Q1, 2021
By Joseph Chang 2021/01/28 NEW YORK (ICIS)--US-based Dow expects continued momentum in polyethylene (PE) and polyurethanes (PU) driving further earnings growth in Q1 and 2021 following a strong Q4 that soundly beat Wall Street consensus estimates.

INSIGHT: Covid, end of aid may cause Brazil Q1 GDP to contract
By Al Greenwood 2021/01/28 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Economists are warning that Brazil's economy is slowing down and may even contract in the first quarter, the result of emergency aid expiring and the coronavirus spreading.

Reliance’s oil-to-chems ops spin-off to ease entry of foreign investors
By Priya Jestin 2021/01/27 MUMBAI (ICIS)--India’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has spun-off its oil-to-chemicals (O2C) operations which should help facilitate entry of foreign investors like Saudi Aramco into the business.

Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest crude exporter, is in the process of acquiring a 20% stake in RIL's O2C operations, for $15bn in line with the strategy to grow its downstream operations.

Completion of the deal was pushed back to early 2021 from March 2020.

Developing Asia 2021 growth upgraded to 8.3% on improved India outlook - IMF
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/27 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The International Monetary Fund (IMF) late on Tuesday lifted its 2021 growth projection for the emerging and developing Asia region to 8.3% from its previous projection of 8.0% after upgrading India's economic outlook for the year.

China will continue to support the region's growth outlook with its economy projected to expand by 8.1% in 2021 and 5.6% in 2022, the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook report.

PODCAST: Global melamine market cost pressure; US and Europe Q1 price surge
By Melissa Hurley 2021/01/26 LONDON (ICIS)--Global melamine markets are being affected by logistical issues, increased production costs and rising contract prices in Q1 2021.

Demand for electronics, durable goods to drive demand in 2021 - HB Fuller
By Adam Yanelli 2021/01/26 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Continued improvement in underlying demand, especially for electronics, durable goods and consumer goods, is likely to drive volume growth in 2021, US-based adhesives producer HB Fuller said on Tuesday.

South Korea economy contracts 1.0% in 2020; shrinks 1.4% in Q4
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--South Korea's economy contracted by 1.0% year on year in 2020, its worst performance in 23 years, as exports and manufacturing faltered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

LyondellBasell, Sinopec to start up new China SM/PO in end-2021
By Nurluqman Suratman 2021/01/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--LyondellBasell and Sinopec expect to start up their joint propylene oxide (PO)/styrene monomer (SM) unit at Zhenhai in Ningbo, China at the end of the year.

The facility is expected to produce 275,000 tonnes/year of PO and 600,000 tonnes/year of SM.

PODCAST: Europe chemicals face €1bn 2021 carbon bill as global action intensifies
By: Will Beacham 2021/01/25 BARCELONA (ICIS)--Europe’s chemical sector faces a carbon bill of around €1bn in 2021 amid a ramp up in regulatory measures around the world.

  • Europe carbon prices rose from €25/tonne in October 2020 to €35/tonne today
  • Expect a big shift from global to local supply chains as pandemic exposed weaknesses, carbon taxes to enable change
  • Beyond 2030 there may be no more worldscale chemical projects built
  • Automotive semiconductor shortage highlights vulnerabilities of global supply chains

Click on the headline to hear the podcast

Shortages, skyrocketing prices continue for chems shipping
By: Tom Brown 2021/01/25 LONDON (ICIS)--The shipping woes that have dogged the chemicals sector for months show no sign of abating, with disrupted international trade flows driving up prices and limiting availability, with European issues exacerbated by confusion and gridlock following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Shipping costs have skyrocketed over the last few months, with market sources reporting that they have been quoted six times or more the level seen in mid-2020, when prices first started to climb.

““Every day and week the sea freight costs are going up,” said a European trader.

Germany’s business climate worsens as lockdown could go beyond mid-February
By: Jonathan Lopez 2021/01/25 LONDON (ICIS)--Germany’s business confidence index, compiled by the ifo Institute, declined in January as the country’s lockdown is “unlikely to end” on 14 February as planned, financial analysts said on Monday.

The pandemic’s second wave has hit Germany hard, and the country’s health services have been under pressure since December; unlike in the spring of 2020, Germany’s death toll has surpassed 1,000 on several days in January this year.

January’s economic performance was hit by the lockdown, with falls in practically all economic sectors – including manufacturing, construction, trade, and services – although the fall in confidence during the month is far from the lows posted in the second quarter of 2020.

China holiday-travel curbs dampen petrochemical restocking
Petrochemical restocking in China this year will not be strong as in the past as the usual heavy manufacturing disruption that accompanies the Lunar New Year holidays may not happen, with travel curbs in place to ward off another wave of coronavirus infection in the country.

India's Reliance net profit rises in Sept-Dec despite drop in revenue
Reliance Industries Limited's (RIL) net profit rose by 13% year on year in the three months to 31 December 2020 despite a drop in revenue, the Indian chemicals major said late on Friday.

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.

ANALYSIS AND RESOURCES

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