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

Author: Will Beacham

2021/10/22

The chemicals industry needs to overcome a 'business as usual' strategy and grasp new production and recycling technologies to meet the challenge of a low carbon future. Tune in to this podcast as Will Beacham interviews ICIS Senior Consultant Asia John Richardson and Paul Hodges, chairman of New Normal Consulting.

Europe's ammonia and propylene markets are being closely followed by acrylonitrile (ACN) players. Both are balanced to healthy supply wise and demand is still good - but energy costs are spiraling. Listen in as ICIS pricing editors Jane Massingham, Richard Ewing and Nel Weddle discuss the latest developments and look at short-term market expectations.

Tight supplies and strong demand have sent 2-Ethyhexanol (2-EH) prices in Asia to an all-time high as of the end of July, but market sentiment is expected to weaken this quarter. Tune in to the latest ICIS Asian podcast.

Many turnarounds at plants and refineries scheduled for 2020 were deferred because of the pandemic, which has put increased pressure on turnaround managers, according to panellists at the Reuters USA Downstream conference.

Discussions for November delivery of butadiene (BD) import cargoes into China have risen with persistently bullish trades in the domestic market.

Europe adipic acid (ADA) freely negotiated contracts for October were this week assessed as increasing by up to €100/tonne from September.

Manufacturing costs are so high in Europe that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) sellers are proposing surcharges, while production problems are exacerbating the existing product shortage.

East Mediterranean polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) October prices have increased steadily in the past two weeks, tracking rising prices in the region and in line with the previous month’s direction.

Updated on 22 Oct

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. 

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LATEST HEADLINES

China BD import discussions rise on bullish domestic market
By Ai Teng Lim 22-Oct-21 12:02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Discussions for November delivery of butadiene (BD) import cargoes into China have risen with persistently bullish trades in the domestic market.

Europe ADA October contracts climb as gas pressure builds
By Fergus Jensen 21-Oct-21 22:13 LONDON (ICIS)--Europe adipic acid (ADA) freely negotiated contracts for October were this week assessed as increasing by up to €100/tonne from September.

US turnaround managers eye new strategies after schedules disrupted from pandemic
By Adam Yanelli 21-Oct-21 14:47 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Many turnarounds at plants and refineries scheduled for 2020 were deferred because of the pandemic, which has put increased pressure on turnaround managers, panellists at the Reuters USA Downstream conference said on Thursday.

PODCAST: Chemicals industry must banish inertia, reinvent itself for a low carbon future
By Will Beacham 20-Oct-21 21:18 BARCELONA (ICIS)--The chemicals industry needs to overcome a 'business as usual' strategy and grasp new production and recycling technologies to meet the challenge of a low carbon future.

Europe PET/PTA hit by multiple surcharges and production cutbacks
By Caroline Murray 20-Oct-21 19:56 LONDON (ICIS)--Manufacturing costs are so high in Europe that polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) sellers are proposing surcharges, while production problems are exacerbating the existing product shortage.

PODCAST: Europe ACN feedstocks update: costs vs supply-demand dynamics
By ICIS Editorial 19-Oct-21 20:53 LONDON (ICIS)--Europe's ammonia and propylene markets are being closely followed by acrylonitrile (ACN) players. Both are balanced to healthy supply wise and demand is still good - but energy costs are spiraling.

Oct East Med PE, PP prices rise following regional trend, local demand lagging
By Nadim Salamoun 19-Oct-21 18:20 DUBAI (ICIS)--East Mediterranean polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) October prices have increased steadily in the past two weeks, tracking rising prices in the region and in line with the previous month’s direction.

PODCAST: Asia’s 2-EH could be hurt by weaker plasticizers demand in Q4
By Jasmine Khoo 18-Oct-21 16:32 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Tight supplies and strong demand have sent 2-Ethyhexanol (2-EH) prices in Asia to an all-time high as of the end of July, but market sentiment is expected to weaken this quarter.

NE Asia C2 up; logistic woes, margin squeeze may prompt output cuts
By Yeow Pei Lin 15-Oct-21 12:17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Northeast Asia’s spot ethylene (C2) import prices rose to around a 30-week high on strong Chinese buying, logistic bottlenecks and high feedstock costs.

Crude prices reaching multi-year highs in response to natural gas shortage - IEA
By Morgan Condon 15-Oct-21 00:18 LONDON (ICIS)--Oil prices are cresting multi-year highs on robust demand as supply has tightened in response to the shortage of natural gas, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on Thursday.

Import P series glycol ethers uptick on firmer feedstock prices; supply tightens
By Bonnie Yi 14-Oct-21 15:46 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Some deals and discussions in the import markets for propylene glycol methyl ether (PM) and propylene glycol methyl ether acetate (PMA) were higher in southeast (SE) Asia following overall tightened supply and firmer feedstock prices in China.

INSIGHT: Petchem prices pressured by slowing demand growth
By Nigel Davis 13-Oct-21 22:27 LONDON (CIS)--The petrochemicals price surge has largely played out. The global ICIS Petrochemical Price Index decreased slightly in September: the index charts mostly contract price movements so is possibly not yet reflecting higher feedstock and energy costs. It has charted the post pandemic economic recovery but is showing that the earlier strong demand pull is giving way to something different.

IMF slightly lowers '21 global GDP forecast as pandemic lingers
By Adam Yanelli 12-Oct-21 07:01 HOUSTON (ICIS)--The International Monetary Fund (IMF) slightly lowered its 2021 global GDP forecast and left its 2022 forecast unchanged as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt supply chains, increasing the risks to economies across the world.

EPCA '21: VIDEO - Europe PET, PTA Q4 supply to stay snug, ADDs for MEG a hot topic
By Melissa Hurley 05-Oct-21 20:00 LONDON (ICIS)--European monoethylene glycol (MEG) editor Melissa Hurley discusses tight downstream polyethylene terephthalate (PET) supply with senior editor Caroline Murray, ahead of the virtual European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) annual conference.

INSIGHT: Asian C3 outlook hinges on delicate supply-demand balance – part 1
By Julia Tan 08-Oct-21 09:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The outlook for Asian propylene is cloudy, hinging on a delicate supply and demand balance, with market sources expecting that the post-holiday period will bring much-needed clarity to the Asian spot markets.

EPCA ’21: Raw material challenges add to European MMA difficulties
By Mathew Jolin-Beech 06-Oct-21 22:45 LONDON (ICIS)--The European methyl methacrylate (MMA) sector is facing growing challenges from upstream raw materials on top of difficulties downstream. The post-summer pick-up in demand has been sluggish which has allowed market pressure to continue to ease and prices to continue to decrease.

PODCAST: Middle East markets mixed amid tight supply conditions
By Nurluqman Suratman 07-Oct-21 16:25 SINGAPORE (ICI)--In this episode of the podcast, Senior Reporter Felicia Loo gives a brief overview of current market conditions in the Middle East.

EPCA ‘21: Gains in European MX demand to be furnished by sufficient supply
By Zubair Adam 07-Oct-21 23:00 LONDON (ICIS)--European supply of mixed xylenes (MX) was in general adequate to meet market requirements. Product availability will remain good, even if requirements rise. The European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) annual conference is the key industry networking event. For the second year, COVID-19-related travel restrictions have led to a fully virtual event.

EPCA ‘21: No let-up in NWE paraffin wax market as tightness to spill over into 2022
By Cameron Birch 07-Oct-21 22:00 LONDON (ICIS)--Amid continued logistical headaches, sentiment in the Europe paraffin wax market remains undimmed, despite questions over rising stockpiles from major buyers in the sector Buyers now face the dilemma of whether to make additional purchases at current elevated price levels or await potentially lower prices.

PODCAST: Asia ADA markets face supply uncertainty amid China's dual control policy
By Jasmine Khoo 07-Oct-21 20:44 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s adipic acid (ADA) markets face supply uncertainty amid operating rate cuts in China due to the dual control policy. Volatility in the feedstock benzene markets has also put pressure on ADA production. Firm pricing in the related methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) markets has also dented ADA buyers’ confidence. In the seasonal downstream lull, buyers have also remained on the sidelines due to a lack of buying urgency.

PODCAST: Chemical demand, supply chains face disruption from new China policy
By Will Beacham 05-Oct-21 22:07 BARCELONA (ICIS)--China’s Common Prosperity strategy will slow its economy and reduce demand for chemicals as it pivots away from an unsustainable property bubble and lowers carbon intensity.

US Sept Port Houston chem tanker arrivals surge, still trail pre-pandemic levels
By Adam Yanelli 06-Oct-21 15:14 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Arrivals of chemical tankers at Port Houston in September surged by almost 15% compared with the same month a year ago, but are down from September 2019, before the pandemic, according to shipping data from the Greater Houston Port Bureau (GHPB).

INSIGHT: China propylene exports to LatAm surge after US storms
By Al Greenwood 01-Oct-21 00:12 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Chinese exports of propylene surged in August, with thousands of tonnes going to Colombia and Mexico, countries that normally obtain most of their imports of the monomer from the US, according to the ICIS Supply and Demand database.

PODCAST: Global MEG outlook snug ahead of Q4
By Melissa Hurley 29-Sep-21 00:21 LONDON (ICIS)--European monoethylene glycol (MEG) editor Melissa Hurley discusses the global supply outlook with Judith Wang, Senior Analyst Ann Sun and Antoinette Smith.

Asia petrochemicals wreathed in uncertainties; sentiment downbeat
By Felicia Loo 30-Sep-21 13:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s petrochemical markets are wreathed in uncertainties as sentiment is hit by severe power outages in China, economic concerns and shrinking auto production.

PODCAST: Resins, recycled plastics face challenges as demand grows
By Anna Matherne 30-Sep-21 04:52 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Senior editor manager Zachary Moore and senior editor Emily Friedman discuss key takeaways from the 2021 PACK EXPO in the podcast interview by Anna Matherne.

US automaker Stellantis to temporarily lay off 1,800 workers at Brazil plant on chip shortage
By Adam Yanelli 29-Sep-21 14:06 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Automaker Stellantis will temporarily lay off 1,800 workers at its plant in Betim, Minas Gerais, Brazil, because of a lack of parts directly related to the global shortage of microchips, the US-based company said.

INSIGHT: Malaysia to intensify specialty chemicals development under new roadmap
By Nurluqman Suratman 28-Sep-21 17:53 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Malaysia has unveiled a roadmap for its petrochemical industry in its latest five-year economic plan, which aims to promote the development of the country's specialty chemicals footprint to replace more commodity products.

Pressure to remain on US phenol supply in Q4
By Tarun Raizada 28-Sep-21 03:25 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Pressure is expected to remain on US phenol supply in Q4, with upcoming turnaround activity and healthy demand.

Europe EPS supply shortage to continue in October, multiple ongoing pressures
By Stephanie Wix 27-Sep-21 21:00 LONDON (ICIS)--The supply shortage in the European expandable polystyrene (EPS) market is expected to worsen in October, with multiple ongoing pressures.

US BDO returns to critical tightness after Ida
By Antoinette Smith 23-Sep-21 05:18 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Despite a brief easing of supply over the summer, US butanediol (BDO) has returned to critical shortage following Hurricane Ida, though demand into the automotive sector faces headwinds.

Asia FAE market to face upward pressure on tightened supply in China
By Helen Yan 24-Sep-21 14:22 Asia’s fatty alcohol ethoxylates (FAE) market is likely to face upward pressure in the near term due to tightened supply in China following its dual control policy on environmental protection.

European MEC market tight on global and domestic issues, spot prices rise in September
By Chris Barker 24-Sep-21 02:28 LONDON (ICIS)--European methylene chloride (MEC) availability has been tight in September, with the outlook for the second half of 2021 remaining constrained due to highly priced feedstocks and global tightness.

INSIGHT: China's Evergrande crisis, dual-controls undermine petchems sentiment
By Felicia Loo 23-Sep-21 17:40 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian petrochemicals sentiment may face downward pressure, led by possibly weakening consumption in China, where the twin effects of the Evergrande crisis and the dual-control approach on energy consumption play out.

INSIGHT: China carbon controls hit polyolefins production
By Amy Yu 23-Sep-21 12:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s dual controls on total energy consumption and energy intensity targets, focused on lowering the country’s carbon output, are already having an impact on petrochemical plant operations.

PODCAST: Europe oxo-alcohols chain remains calm while awaiting news of BASF's ongoing NBA FM
By Eashani Chavda 23-Sep-21 23:53 LONDON (ICIS)--The European n-butanol (NBA) market has seen improved availability in late Q3, with its derivatives glycol ethers, butyl acrylate (butac) and acrylate esters seeing a similar trend. Pockets of tightness have emerged for ethyl acrylate (ethyl-A) and glycol ethers but prices remain relatively steady.

PODCAST: Energy to be key factor in German election vote
By Laura Mendes 22-Sep-21 16:59 LONDON (ICIS)-- The German election for a new federal government and chancellor will take place on 26 September. A key topic of debate at the moment is energy policy. And the main policy proposals are promising to be more climate ambitious than the current outlook. ICIS Energy market reporter Laura Mendes talks with in-house analyst Roy Manuell to look at the possible scenarios of election results for the German market.

PODCAST: Evergrande debt crisis signals major reset for China, global chemical markets
By Will Beacham 21-Sep-21 21:45 BARCELONA (ICIS)--The potential default by China’s massive Evergrande property group shows a government shift to lower debt and redistribution of wealth, with important implications for chemicals markets there and around the world.

Asia’s glycerine to face upward pressure on soaring freight, tight supply
By Helen Yan 17-Sep-21 12:18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s glycerine market is likely to continue to face upward pressure from soaring container freight rates and strong demand amid concerns over supply security.

China PE to gain further momentum from tighter supply in Q4
By Joanne Wang 17-Sep-21 14:25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The domestic polyethylene (PE) market in China will gain momentum in the fourth quarter as supply may be tightened by operational cutbacks at some domestic plants from September, as well as expected turnarounds in the Middle East.

PODCAST: China PO market sees fresh round of price adjustments
By Chris Qi 16-Sep-21 22:49 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--ICIS analyst Jady Ma and senior information director Chris Qi discuss the current state of China's domestic propylene oxide (PO) market.

VIDEO: China PP market strengthening amid lower production
By Zhibo Xiao 2021/09/16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Watch industry analyst Shawn Xiao discuss the current uptrend in domestic PP prices.

China ECH supply threatened by environmental policies; buyers eye imports
By Luffy Wu 16-Sep-21 16:05 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s domestic epichlorohydrin (ECH) supply may tighten as a major facility in Jiangsu province may shut in the wake of the country’s newly minted environmental policies.

Europe epoxy resins supply strain could extend into Q4 on import disruption
By Heidi Finch 15-Sep-21 21:55 LONDON (ICIS)--Ongoing robust demand across most segments, persistent feedstock constraints and import delays continue to strain Europe epoxy resins supply and the tightness could extend into Q4, as Asian import disruption intensifies.

European toluene supply healthy, with limited demand
By Zubair Adam 14-Sep-21 00:36 LONDON (ICIS)--Toluene availability continues to have some length in the bulk sector, with consumption limited. Market conditions are expected by some to remain stable throughout September.

Europe MEG import gap to be plugged by Asian imports; contract talks stall
By Melissa Hurley 13-Sep-21 23:18 LONDON (ICIS)--European monoethylene glycol (MEG) spot supply remains limited for larger quantities, but imports are expected to improve in the next couple of months.

China spot C2 demand to remain strong prior to early October holiday
By Yeow Pei Lin 10-Sep-21 11:19 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot demand in northeast Asia’s ethylene (C2) import market is expected to stay healthy leading to China’s National Day holidays in early October.

EU must set mandatory recycled content in packaging by 2030 - producers
By Jonathan Lopez 09-Sep-21 23:39 LONDON (ICIS)--The EU must set a mandatory target for recycled content in plastic packaging of 30% by 2030 to prop up circularity evenly among the 27 member states, plastics producers’ trade group PlasticsEurope said on Thursday.

INSIGHT: Chemical and oil industries need to ramp up innovation in face of climate challenge
By Nigel Davis 09-Sep-21 00:36 LONDON (ICIS)—Strategically, chemical companies should be positioned to respond to, and benefit from, the energy transition.

Mideast petrochemical markets mixed; some offers rise amid US outages
By Felicia Loo 09-Sep-21 12:36 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Middle East’s petrochemical markets are mixed, with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) enjoying good sales to the Americas in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, and offers for polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) have increased amid supply shortages from Saudi Arabia.

PODCAST: US ACC's outgoing chief economist reflects on 30 years in chemicals, Storm Ida impact
By Will Beacham 08-Sep-21 21:34 BARCELONA (ICIS)--The outgoing chief economist at US trade group the American Chemistry Council (ACC), Kevin Swift, analyses the impact of Storm Ida and reflects on the key changes which have shaped the chemical industry over the last 30 years. In this special Think Tank podcast, Will Beacham interviews ACC's Swift; ICIS Insight Editor, Nigel Davis; and the chairman of New Normal Consulting, Paul Hodges.

Indian LAB market slows, concerns over BIS certificate remain
By Damini Dabholkar 08-Sep-21 19:05 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The market for linear alkylbenzene (LAB) slowed in India, as indicated by the offers for September material that were announced last week.

European caustic soda to tighten as Hurricane Ida hits global availability
By Chris Barker 08-Sep-21 16:01 LONDON (ICIS)--Caustic soda has tightened globally following production issues in the US caused by Hurricane Ida, leading to tighter supply in northwest Europe and the Mediterranean.

Europe glycol ethers supply constraints expected for September
By Eashani Chavda 06-Sep-21 21:55 LONDON (ICIS)--European glycol ether supply constraints to persist in September as BASF remains shut down at Ludwigshafen, Germany.

PE, PP offers to East Med markets spike on Saudi supply constraints
By Veena Pathare 03-Sep-21 11:50 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Offers for September polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) cargoes in the East Mediterranean markets have increased on the back of a supply shortage from Saudi Arabia.

Mideast petrochemical demand may improve; shipping woes remain
By Felicia Loo 02-Sep-21 17:12 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Petrochemical demand in the Middle East may see some improvement, shored up by post-summer restocking, although concerns remain about high freight costs and difficulties in securing empty containers and vessel space. September is the archetypal month when peak demand kicks off for some products.

INSIGHT: Asia R-PET sentiment dims on COVID-19; Europe eyes stability
By Felicia Loo 01-Sep-21 21:07 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--A tale of two regions distinctly marks European and Asian recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) when it comes to demand and supply, as the onslaught of the pandemic is derailing the market in Asia.

PODCAST: Global ACN players keep a close eye on US situation
By Jane Massingham 01-Sep-21 01:31 HOUSTON (ICIS)-- Last week, the US region positioned itself firming at the forefront of acrylonitrile (ACN) discussions as players absorbed the news of record highs from feedstock propylene. Since then, Hurricane Ida has resulted in a fresh force majeure declaration from Cornerstone in Louisiana.

Asian MMA demand to stay soft near term
By Li Li Chng 31-Aug-21 23:04 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The Asian methyl methacrylate (MMA) market has been largely stable over August, and the trend could remain gradual in the short term on balanced supply and demand. Even though some suppliers have been experiencing tightness, demand in Asia is soft, especially in the southeast Asian markets that are battling resurgent COVID-19 cases.

PODCAST: highest operating rates for chemicals in 30 years despite pandemic
By Will Beacham 31-Aug-21 22:44 BARCELONA (ICIS)--The global chemical industry is enjoying the highest operating rate in three decades despite disruption caused by the pandemic and logistics crisis.

Europe August PVC outlook stays tight, contract prices rise
By Chris Barker 31-Aug-21 19:09 LONDON (ICIS)--European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) contract prices rose for August due to limited availability, with demand expected to remain high through the remainder of 2021 and global tightness continuing to weigh on the market.

Thailand petrochemical demand to stay weak despite 1 Sept re-opening
By Nurluqman Suratman 31-Aug-21 13:26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Thailand's petrochemical market outlook remains weak in the near term as the country battles its worst COVID-19 outbreak to date, with its economic recovery expected to be slower compared with peers in southeast Asia.

Indian PE imports’ demand to remain slow ahead of BIS implementation deadline
By Veena Pathare 27-Aug-21 09:48 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--India’s demand for September-lifting spot polyethylene (PE) cargoes has begun to weaken, and is likely to remain slow ahead of the mid-October deadline of ensuring implementation of quality certifications mandated by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

China’s PE pipe grade demand outlook cautious for Sept-Oct
By Hazel Goh 26-Aug-21 19:11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s demand outlook for polyethylene (PE) pipe grade is cautious even as the typical peak demand season in September-October approaches, amid limited new downstream pipe projects.

Asian petrochemicals in morass of bearish demand, container shortages
By Felicia Loo 26-Aug-21 15:49 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian petrochemical markets are in a morass of downbeat demand as COVID-19 and container shortages continue to haunt the region.

Some PP grades remain tight in Europe as players return post-holiday
By Linda Naylor 26-Aug-21 17:39 LONDON (ICIS)--Polypropylene (PP) players are returning from holiday, slowly in the south of Europe, but September is far from clear. Some non-commodity grades remain tight.

INSIGHT: Coatings sector navigates raw materials headwinds, strong demand
By Tom Brown 24-Aug-21 23:36 LONDON (ICIS)--The coatings sector is currently navigating surging demand as the industrial rebound adds to the home improvement boom seen throughout the pandemic, alongside raw materials costs surging to near-decade highs and supply chain headaches.

US polyether polyol markets could see lingering tightness on propylene, PO supply issues
By Zachary Moore 24-Aug-21 23:08 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Recent fresh supply problems with polyether polyol feedstocks propylene and propylene oxide (PO) could exacerbate supply tightness in the coming weeks.

PODCAST: Logistics crisis could last for years, create more regional supply chains
By Will Beacham 24-Aug-21 19:45 BARCELONA (ICIS)--The container logistics and supply chain crisis could continue for years, forcing chemical companies to pursue less global and more regional strategies.

European MEG market awaits delayed August contract confirmation; outlook turns more bullish
By Melissa Hurley 24-Aug-21 00:59 LONDON (ICIS)--The European monoethylene glycol (MEG) market continues to wait for full confirmation of the August contract price. While attitudes over contract prices remain divided, sellers are adopting a more bullish attitude in the spot market as supply is expected to tighten next month.

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