TOPIC PAGE: War in Ukraine, gas crisis
Updated at 10:00 GMT on 1 December 2023. Please scroll down to see news headlines.
The global spot ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) fell for a sixth week in seven on the back of declines in northeast Asia and northwest Europe after crude oil prices fell on worries about low demand.
European policymakers have become increasingly outspoken on the topic of banning Russian seaborne imports, however, TotalEnergies CEO, Patrick Pouyanne, recent remarks underline the business case for a continuation of the status quo: “We will continue to ship LNG from Russia as long as there are no sanctions, or push, from Europe on the gas.”
The economics of importing low-cost Russian LNG are undoubtedly in favour of the buyside, however, to remain in a transactional and dependent relationship with an unfriendly state is a risky strategy for the EU, as the energy crisis of 2022 has shown.
The EU aims to be free of Russian fossil fuels by 2027 but Russia has already proven with pipeline deliveries that it could end Europe’s reliance rather quickly and painfully.
This topic page examines the impact of the Ukraine conflict on oil, gas, fertilizer and chemical markets.Image credit Vadim Ghirda/AP/Shutterstock
Europe’s energy markets witnessed a year of record prices and extreme volatility in 2021. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to more difficult conditions for global markets since then.
- Gas storage remains robust in Europe ahead of winter 2023
- Poor downstream demand still affecting industrial production, gas demand
- Record shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe so far in 2023
- LNG plus Norwegian, Algerian, Azerbaijani pipeline imports compensate for Russian supply shortfall
- Europe LNG processing operating at full capacity
- Nord Stream I and II pipelines damaged by explosions, zero flows to Europe
- EU implements voluntary 15% cut to consumption
- Russia supplies 20% of global seaborne ammonia market
- Disrupted supply has pushed up fertilizer and food prices
- Friendship oil pipeline flows through Ukraine
- Russian oil feeds around a quarter of Europe demand
- Europe seeks to end reliance on Russian crude oil
- EU agrees ban on seaborne imports from 5 December 2022, petroleum products from 5 February 2023
- From 5 December Russian crude oil cargoes only be insured if subject to price cap
- Millions of tonnes of capacity remain offline despite gas cost collapse
- Elevated oil, gas prices dent consumer confidence and demand
- Prospect of recession, more cheap imports from Asia
- Margins, prices under pressure due to collapsed downstream demand
Sanctions and measures against Russian exports of oil and gas have sent shockwaves across the global economy, lifting the cost of living, impacting industrial and agricultural production.
How vulnerable are energy and
energy-related Russian supplies to
Europe has historically depended for close to 40% of its annual gas consumption on Russian supplies, imported via four routes – Ukraine, Belarus-Poland as well as the Nord Stream 1 and TurkStream corridors linking Russia to Germany and Turkey via the Baltic and Black Sea, respectively.
Overall Russian pipeline supplies were limited throughout 2021 and further reduced in 2022. By the end of last year Russian pipeline supplies fell to less than 10% of Europe’s total gas imports compared to 40% in the previous year.
Russian volumes shipped through Ukraine to Europe are now at third of what they should be as part of a five-year transit agreement
Russia has banned exports of gas to several EU countries, and the Nord Stream I and II pipelines have been damaged. In 2022 flows via Yamal and Nord Stream 1 stopped completely.
European petrochemicals players faced even higher gas prices as a result, though these have since collapsed to pre-war levels, though still above long-term averages. Fertilizer companies – where gas can account for 80% of costs – have been forced to curtail production. Chemicals were affected, especially those with high exposure to gas prices through utilities or feedstocks.
If the conflict escalates, Ukraine transit pipelines may come under attack but disruptions could be limited because the infrastructure has been built to grant flexibility, allowing the operator to reroute flows away from potentially damaged segments.
The Togliatti-Azot pipeline, the world’s longest ammonia pipeline stretching 2,471km from the Togliatti Azot plant in Russian Samara Oblast to the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Yuzhny, could be caught up in the cross-fire. Russian ammonia supplies account for around 20% of the global seaborne merchant ammonia market each month.
Around two thirds of those volumes are exported via Yuzhny, with the rest reaching European and global markets via Baltic ports. Ammonia is a prime material for fertilizers, so curtailments could potentially lead to higher food prices and shortages.
Ammonia market players are scrambling to cover positions and assess options as the Russian invasion of Ukraine saw loadings at the key export hub of Yuzhny halted with immediate effect.
Russian nitrogen fertilizer major Togliatti confirmed the suspension of the transit of ammonia to the Black Sea port via pipeline to ensure the safety of people living in the vicinity of the lengthy conduit.
OIL PIPELINES VULNERABLE
Supplies on the world’s longest oil pipeline, the Friendship (Druzhba) pipeline, could be threatened if the conflict leads to tough sanctions. The pipeline carries oil from central Russia 4,000km west to Ukraine and Belarus and runs close to the Belarus-Ukraine border. Russia exports around 5m bbl/day, of which half are exported to Europe, including via this pipeline.
Russian oil accounts for about a quarter of Europe’s consumption, with the Druzhba pipeline carrying close to 1m bbl/day.
Sanctions have been imposed on imports of Russian crude oil and products by sea, but the ban does not include pipeline oil.
Europe consumed most exports of Urals, Russia’s biggest export grade, in 2021 after Saudi Arabia boosted market share in China. Almost 10m tonnes of Urals went through Rotterdam in the first half of last year, up 2m tonnes on 2020.
Germany stands most exposed because it gets 25% of its oil from Russia.
SInce the ban came into place, Russia has successfully switched exports mainly to China and India, though priced at a steep doscount.
Gas and electricity are important components in the production costs of many chemicals. Surging gas and feedstock prices in Europe have caused margins to drop because producers are often unable to push these costs through to downstream customers. Now millions of tonnes of fertilizer and chemical capacity are offline in Europe.
ICIS has also created an interactive timeline which shows the history of the gas impact since July 2021.
These products have been most badly affected by outages in Europe, with more than half of capacity offline or running at reduced rates in some cases.
Analysis by the ICIS Margin Analytics team shows the products which are most exposed to energy and gas prices in Europe as a feedstock or utility.
Europe is at a competitive disadvantage to other regions and some customers are seeking new sources of lower-priced supply, especially from Asia and the Middle East.
Collapsed demand means that millions of tonnes of European chemicals capacity remains offline despite much lower gas costs.
The conflict in Ukraine has pushed European gas prices back up to record levels, forcing exposed chemical producers to cease production, or add further energy surcharges.
Rising oil prices since late 2021 have already put chemical margins under pressure, and volatility has continued into 2022. As oil and naphtha prices soared, margins for ethylene production based on naphtha went negative for the first time ICIS record began. The are now are swinging wildy in tandem with oil price movements.
Chemical producers are struggling to pass on increasing feedstock and energy costs in Europe. Elevated oil and gas prices also dent downstream consumer confidence and spending, with recession a possibility later in 2022 or 2023.
What contingency plans are being put in
Europe prepared for a difficult winter although rising storage fullness levels, falling demand and more import capacity for liquefied natural gas (LNG) have helped it get by, assuming there will not be an extensive cold spell.
As of 11 October, storage facilities across Europe were 97% full compared with 88% the same time last year.
Altogether another 157bn cubic meters/year of regasification capacity is due to be added by the end of the decade, increasing Europe’s capacity by one third from pre-war levels. Most of it should be ready by next year or 2025/26. The capacity includes offshore terminals in the Netherlands, Germany and Estonia/Finland.
Demand has been decreasing by more than 20% in the industrial sector in north-west European countries and by 20-30% for households in Germany, according to official data.
Nevertheless, there is a possibility that Russia may completely stop its gas supplies to Europe via the last two remaining routes – Ukraine and Turkey, which could lop off some 70 cubic meters of Russian gas entering Europe daily.
In such a scenario, the most affected countries would be those in eastern and central Europe, which are landlocked and have been struggling to secure regasified LNG from importing countries.
For oil markets, in case of an attack but no international sanctions, the worst-case scenario would be for approximately 240,000 bbl/day of lost Russian exports via Ukraine.
There are other seaborne routes, including the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.
Gas rationing – impact on Europe petrochemicals, fertilizers
Embattled European fertilizer and petrochemical producers may be the first in line to cut gas consumption if the region experiences a cold snap in the weather.
Russia, Europe’s largest gas supplier, has been limiting exports to less than a quarter of its deliveries two years ago and may stop them altogether amid its political stand-off with the EU.
Policymakers recommend voluntary reductions but say these would become mandatory in case of a supply emergency jeopardising the bloc’s security.
The EU’s largest consumers include households, accounting for 37% of total demand, electricity and heat generation covering around 30% and industrial consumption accounting for another 30%.
Record high gas prices and an ongoing gas supply crunch over the least year had forced consumers to limit or stop production or seek import substitution globally. The mild winter has alleviated this situation.
The fertilizer sector, one of the most gas-intensive industries, has also been one of the most affected so far as gas can account for up to 80% of production costs. Production has been cut back drastically because it is no longer economic.
On the petrochemicals side, there are now deep production cuts for products such as methyl methacrylate (MMA) and melamine which are heavily exposed to natural gas for utilities or as a feedstock.
Producers are making detailed plans for rationing, particularly in Germany, where the chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry uses about 140 TWh per year, or about 15 percent of Germany’s gas consumption.
Gas is mainly used by petrochemicals to generate energy such as electricity and steam as well as to fire furnaces for production complexes such as crackers.
Sites are able to lower operating rates significantly, but they may be forced to close if gas supplies drop so much that production becomes uneconomic or difficult from a technical perspective.
Companies with flexibility are switching from natural gas to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or other sources of energy.
Ukraine conflict threatens Europe oil supply, chemicals production
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sanctions could cut supplies of crude oil through the Druzhba pipeline, threatening oil refinery operations and chemicals production at installations in Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and the former East Germany.
Russian oil supplies up to a quarter of Europe’s crude imports, with refineries in central and eastern Europe, which are attached to the Druzhba pipeline, particularly reliant on these supplies. Any interruption to these supplies could force refineries to reduce operating rates unless they can find alternative supplies.
Analysis of the ICIS Supply & Demand database shows that the countries Druzhba runs through, except for Germany, are reliant on Russian crude oil for more than half of their imports, led by Slovakia which obtained 96% of its supplies from Russia in 2021.
Chemical production downstream of refineries in these countries could be impacted by any reduction in operating rates. The ICIS data forecast that for 2022, 2.79m tonnes of ethylene (11% of total European capacity) and 2.34m tonnes of propylene (12% of total European capacity) are reliant on refineries located along the Druzhba pipeline. While some alternative sources of crude oil could be sourced, it is unlikely normal levels of operations could be maintained.
Michael Connolly, ICIS Principal Analyst Refining said: “Although many have built alternate sources, keeping full operating rates would be difficult for them as they rely on a consistent and reliable source of crude. Most refiners in Europe are aware of the risk of Russian crude and over the past 5-10 years have tried to reduce their dependence, or at least to build some capability to have an alternate supply – it doesn’t mean they would be unaffected, but there should be a little bit of resilience, depending on the site.”
Connolly explained that some land-locked refineries along the Druzhba pipeline have built pipelines to the coast, allowing alternative sources of crude oil to be sourced. However, these pipelines may not have capacity to feed the whole refinery.
A spokesperson for Grupa LOTOS said: “The LOTOS refinery has dealt with suspended supplies by land before. Due to the contamination of Russian oil with chlorines, PERN, the state-owned operator of transmission and storage infrastructure, had to completely discontinue the transmission of crude oil from the eastern direction between 24 April and 9 June 2019.”
He added that scheduling of oil supplies by sea helped to secure volumes sufficient to maintain an unchanged level of throughput and maximise fuel production.
UKRAINE CHEMICALS UNDER THREAT
With Russian forces present in Ukraine, chemical and fertilizer facilities may be threatened by physical damage, interrupted power and gas supplies or logistics disruption.
Karpatnaftohkhim’s cracker at Kalush has been closed down because of the imposition of martial law in Ukraine. It has capacity (tonnes/year) of 250,000 (ethylene); 117,000 (propylene) 110,000 (LLDPE), 300,000 (PVC), 100,000 (benzene).
Ammonia market players have scrambled to cover positions and assess options as the Russian invasion of Ukraine saw loadings at the key export hub of Yuzhny halted with immediate effect.
Russian nitrogen fertilizer major Togliatti confirmed the suspension of the transit of ammonia to the Black Sea port via pipeline to ensure the safety of people living in the vicinity of the lengthy conduit.
The Samara Oblast-based giant also confirmed the shut down of four of its seven ammonia units, with the other three plants operating at reduced rates.
export disruptions to shift global trade flows,
future capacities threatened
Disruptions to Russia’s chemicals and polymers exports will change trade flows, particularly to Europe and Asia, as international sanctions, lack of logistics and even “self-sanctions” limit volumes.
While Russia’s capacities are relatively small on a global scale, they can still have a significant impact on regional markets if these exports are disrupted.
Key Russia exports include methanol, polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), styrene and paraxylene (PX).
Russia has increased exports of high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) in particular in 2020 and 2021 as new capacity started up from SIBUR’s ZapSibNeftekhim complex in Tobolsk in 2020.
Japan factory activity contracts anew; Nov PMI
falls to 48.3
By Pearl Bantillo 01-Dec-23 13:50 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan’s manufacturing activity shrank in November, registering a purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reading of below 50 for the sixth straight month, as output and new orders declined.
Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals restructuring
continues amid Asia
By Nurluqman Suratman 30-Nov-23 12:27 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals is considering downsizing its domestic phenols business, as well as optimize domestic cracker and polyolefin operations, as part of its business restructuring, to transition into a specialty chemicals producer by the end of the decade.
markets in Asia and Europe to usher in 2024
with soft demand
By Yashas Mudumbai 30-Nov-23 20:50 LONDON (ICIS)–The Asian and European butanediol (BDO) markets have struggled with poor demand across downstream sectors in 2023. Market players remain uncertain because there is little sign of the tide turning given current global economic conditions and new plant capacities in China.
Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals restructuring
continues amid Asia
By Nurluqman Suratman 30-Nov-23 12:27 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals is considering downsizing its domestic phenols business, as well as optimize domestic cracker and polyolefin operations, as part of its business restructuring, to transition into a specialty chemicals producer by the end of the decade.
power December outlook mixed amid weather
By Anna Coulson 29-Nov-23 02:00 LONDON (ICIS)— A mixed outlook is expected for UK power prices with delivery in December with potential for a bullish start to the month, likely to then transition to a bearish second half.
Difficult conditions to
persist with ‘highly challenged’ Europe,
‘painfully slow’ China recovery –
By Joseph Chang 29-Nov-23 01:20 NEW YORK (ICIS)–Challenging market conditions for petrochemicals and plastics are expected to last through the end of this year and likely into H1 2024, the CFO of LyondellBasell said.
Global spot index continues to fall as NW
By Miguel Rodriguez Fernandez 27-Nov-23 21:07 LONDON (ICIS)–The global spot ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) dropped for the third week in a row as northwest European prices went down, counteracting a slight increase in northeast Asia and the US Gulf.
INSIGHT: China likely to end property slump in
By Fanny Zhang 27-Nov-23 19:15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s ailing property sector is expected to see a turning point in the second half of 2024 when reduced supply meets returning demand.
energy price cap rises quarterly, drops year on
By Anna Coulson 23-Nov-23 20:50 LONDON (ICIS)–The UK energy price cap for January-March increased quarter on quarter, energy regulator Ofgem said on 23 November, but has fallen year on year in line with lower wholesale gas and power prices.
prices fall more than $1/bbl after OPEC+ delays
By Nurluqman Suratman 23-Nov-23 10:37 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Oil prices fell by more than $1/bbl on Thursday, extending losses in the previous session after OPEC and its allies delayed a meeting to discuss whether to expand oil output cuts.
significantly scale up plastics recycling
business – president
By Joseph Chang 22-Nov-23 23:31 HOUSTON (ICIS)–ExxonMobil is planning major investments and partnerships to become a leader in plastics recycling, said the head of its chemicals and refining business.
demand constrains Asia petrochemical
production; further output cuts
By Nurluqman Suratman 21-Nov-23 12:15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Operating rates at petrochemical plants in Asia will remain constrained, with further production cuts likely amid weak margins due to high costs, oversupply, and poor downstream demand.
INSIGHT: Asia petchem
prices expected to trend down through
traditional November lull
By Jimmy Zhang 20-Nov-23 22:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia petrochemical prices are expected to move downward in November mainly due to the traditional low demand season.
UK government to boost offshore wind support by
By Anna Coulson 17-Nov-23 02:29 LONDON (ICIS)–The UK government increased the maximum strike price available to new offshore wind projects by 66% it announced on 16 November, as it seeks to support development in a sector facing huge cost rises.
Russia’s EU gas market share: A battle on four
fronts – LNG
By Rob Dalton 17-Nov-23 01:44 Russia’s European market share may be further reduced if the Ukrainian gas transit contract is not renewed after 2024 and its LNG exports are sanctioned. While most central and western European buyers may be able to replace missing imports, Russia’s ability to retain and even regain some of the lost share will depend on four pivotal decisions, as Rob Dalton and Aura Sabadus explain in this six-part analysis.
APLA ’23: Petchems to get worse before it gets
better on geopolitics, China exports – Arkema
By Jonathan Lopez 14-Nov-23 01:10 SAO PAULO (ICIS)–The global downturn in petrochemicals may still need to reach a bottom as new geopolitical tensions add pressure to energy and feedstocks supplies, an executive at France’s chemicals major Arkema said on Monday.
government considers shifting chems regulation
plans to cut costs
By Tom Brown 10-Nov-23 00:50 LONDON (ICIS)–The UK government is considering a rethink of its post-Brexit chemicals regulatory framework, focused around reducing the financial impact of the legislation and potentially stepping away from the goal of replicating the datasets held in the EU under the Reach system.
INSIGHT: Companies focus
further on costs as weak demand
By Nigel Davis 09-Nov-23 00:35 LONDON (ICIS)–Weak demand is embedded in the supply chain making it extremely difficult this quarter to have any forward visibility for the start of next year.
INSIGHT: Fourth quarter
prices and margins under pressure against weak
By Nigel Davis 07-Nov-23 00:50 LONDON (ICIS)–Petrochemical and polymer producers continue to balance output to demand, and costs to output, as well as they can. Operating rates remain depressed globally, and acutely so in Europe. And while there may be some stirrings in product supply chains, close inventory management keeps a lid on potential demand growth.
Chevron to announce East
Med assets “concept development process” in
By Clare Pennington 03-Nov-23 11:52 LONDON (ICIS)–US-based Chevron said it will select a concept for how to further develop its Eastern Mediterranean assets by the first quarter of 2024, according to a company spokesperson.
Europe blending demand
for ethanol, toluene and MX
By Zubair Adam 02-Nov-23 20:49 LONDON (ICIS)–Consumption in Europe for gasoline blending agents are mixed for ethanol versus aromatics products toluene and mixed xylenes.
losses weigh on German coal and gas
By Anna Coulson 02-Nov-23 00:44 LONDON (ICIS)– Decreasing power prices saw German clean dark and clean spark spreads fall further out of the money over the last seven days, with the rolling front-month clean dark spread seeing the greatest week-on-week loss.
Polish and Ukrainian TSOs
look into incremental gas capacity
By Irina Breilean 02-Nov-23 00:37 LONDON (ICIS)–Polish and Ukrainian transmission system operators (TSOs) Gaz-System and Gas Transmission System Operator Of Ukraine (GTSOU) have launched on 1 November a public consultation on a project to increment the gas interconnection between the two countries.
Ukraine prepared for
winter but Russian missile attacks still a
By Aura Sabadus 01-Nov-23 01:15 LONDON (ICIS)–Ukraine has stocked up on coal and gas resources for winter but increased Russian missile attacks and an extensive cold weather could leave it struggling to cover the deficit.
Shell exits Pakistan via sale of entire SPL
stake to Saudi Wafi Energy
By Pearl Bantillo 01-Nov-23 15:01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Shell will sell its 77.4% stake in a listed subsidiary company in Pakistan to Saudi Arabia’s Wafi Energy for an undisclosed amount, marking the Anglo-Dutch energy giant’s exit from the south Asian country by late next year.
INSIGHT: Divergent trends
in Asia olefins supply and demand balances for
By Amy Yu 27-Oct-23 18:29 SINGAPORE(ICIS)–The supply and demand balance for the ethylene market in Asia will be improved in 2024, but the propylene imbalance will worsen current data show.
Economic Summary: US continues to show
resilience on healthy consumer
By Joseph Chang 26-Oct-23 05:16 CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (ICIS)–Despite softening consumer confidence, the US economy continues to roll along, driven largely by a healthy services sector and resilient consumer spending – a disconnect between sentiment and reality.
prices to limit European gas-fired generation
in Q1 2024
By Rob Dalton 25-Oct-23 22:44 LONDON (ICIS)–Recent gains across European gas prices has pushed gas-fired power generators well out of the money for the first quarter of 2024, while clean dark spreads indicate increasing profitability for coal-fired generators.
INSIGHT: More gas price
volatility in 2023/4 as geopolitics spreads
panic amid tight supply
By Will Beacham 24-Oct-23 19:00 BARCELONA (ICIS)–European natural gas prices are likely to become even more volatile amid increasing geo-political instability and tight global liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply.
Oil jumps more than $2/bbl as Middle
East tensions heighten
By Nurluqman Suratman 18-Oct-23 05:08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Oil prices jumped by more than $2/bbl on Wednesday after tensions escalated in the Middle East amid the Israel-Hamas conflict following a blast at a hospital in Gaza that killed at least 500 people. Following the blast, leaders of Jordan and Egypt cancelled a summit with US President Joe Biden, who is travelling to Israel as part of efforts to prevent the conflict from widening.
Middle Eastern producers sign new LNG
By Kintan Andanari 18-Oct-23 20:54 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Middle Eastern producers QatarEnergy and ADNOC Gas announced separate LNG supply deals on 18 October, continuing a long line of contracts signed by Middle Eastern companies over the past year. QatarEnergy signed two long-term LNG sale and purchase agreements (SPAs) with Shell to supply up to 3.5m tonnes of LNG annually for 27 years from Qatar to the Netherlands, according to an 18 October QatarEnergy press statement .Meanwhile, ADNOC Gas signed a multi-year agreement with energy trader JERA Global Markets (JERA GM), a subsidiary of Japan’s largest power utility JERA Co Inc, ADNOC gas said in a statement . Details of the agreement’s tenure, volume and pricing were not immediately available. This represents the third long-term contract QatarEnergy signed for delivery to Europe with portfolio players over the past year, as the continent seeks to secure long-term LNG supply to replace Russian gas following the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war.
IPEX: Global spot index maintains
downward trend as NE Asia, NW Europe
By Yashas Mudumbai 16-Oct-23 10:21 LONDON (ICIS)–The global spot weekly ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) remained on a downward trend in the week to 13 October, despite higher crude prices following an escalation of the Middle East conflict and fears about its impact on supply. The spot IPEX index for northeast Asia was down 1.7% in the week, dragged lower by tepid demand following the Golden Week holiday in China and hit by weaker paraxylene (PX), styrene and polyethylene (PE) values.
Ukraine energy sector prepares for more
military strikes this winter
By Aura Sabadus 12-Oct-23 21:44 LONDON (ICIS)–The Ukrainian energy sector is prepared for winter despite the risk of new Russian attacks, the largest private power producer DTEK said in a statement on 12 October. The company, which generates around a quarter of Ukraine’s electricity capacity, said it had completed repairs on 16 thermal power units, doubled coal investments, tripled the pace of gas drilling and developed 114MW of hard-to-hit wind generating capacity 100km away from the frontline. It has spent $107m to repair thermal power plants and reconnected two moth-balled power units to provide an extra 500MW of capacity, it added. Ukraine’s electricity generation and transmission infrastructure has been heavily targeted in Russian attacks since the start of the war in February 2022.
Chemicals stuck between low demand,
volatile energy – UBS
By Joseph Chang 10-Oct-23 05:23 NEW YORK (ICIS)–The chemical sector is expected to continue through a rough patch with weak volumes and volatile energy and feedstock costs through the end of the year, an analyst with investment bank UBS said. “Once again, volumes are generally weaker than anticipated, in spite of low expectations during the last earnings cycle,” said UBS analyst Joshua Spector in a research note, citing slower China demand and weaker Europe and US construction activity. “Uncertainty around end demand is again compounded by volatile energy prices, this time the quick move up in oil from mid-year, leaving chemicals firms stuck between weaker demand and shifting spreads,” he added.
UK chemicals pessimistic as sector
battered by higher costs, cheap imports and
By Will Beacham 09-Oct-23 19:23 BARCELONA (ICIS)–The latest survey of UK Chemical Industries Association (CIA) members reveals that the majority expect sales, production and operating rates to be flat or fall in Q4 2023 and 2024. The CIA’s Q3 Business Survey of 50 member companies says 86% of companies expect their sales to remain the same or reduce while 57% report lower production levels and capacity utilisation. Domestic demand remains low with only 4% of businesses reporting an increase in local sales. The UK chemical industry has been battered on all sides, with the cost of living crisis causing demand to collapse as consumers focus on the basics and shy away from big ticket purchases. This has particularly impacted the construction and automotive sector.
China’s petrochemical market falls
after surges in September, sentiment
By Yvonne Shi 09-Oct-23 17:41 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s petrochemical market strengthened in H1 September, driven mainly by policy implementations, but as procurement and pre-holiday stocking gradually came to an end, the market saw less transactions and an increasingly cautious outlook. By end-September, the ICIS China Petrochemical Price Index (IPEX) rose slightly by 0.82% from the end-August, closing at 1,296.73. In late August and early September, China introduced a series of policies to boost the property market and consumption. The petrochemical futures market saw significant gains, which led to some recovery in the spot market. An increase in purchasing was attributed to seasonal demand, with more lower-price transactions seen.
INSIGHT: Global economic slowdown at
By Kevin Swift 03-Oct-23 00:39 Charlotte, NORTH CAROLINA (ICIS)–The years since the emergence of COVID-19 have been unusual to say the least, and old rules of thumb about economic cycles have evolved. The past year and a half have been especially challenging for business forecasters. There has been war in Europe along with energy disruptions (and price shock), geopolitical tensions in east Asia, worldwide inflation and tightening monetary policy by central banks. There have been recession calls by a number of prominent pundits but in the US, but a recession has yet to develop. Chemical companies have faced volatile raw material and selling prices, and demand has slumped in many markets. Earnings have suffered for many firms.
INSIGHT: EU industry policy will
support future low-carbon chemical
By Nigel Davis 05-Oct-23 22:57 LONDON (ICIS)–The chemical industry often feels sidelined when, as the supplier of materials and potentially lower carbon solutions for industry and commerce, it thinks it should be at the centre in the debate about Europe’s industrial future. Yet, that perception is not necessarily correct. The EU is driving hard towards net zero encouraging delivery on its climate pledges. The European Commission has agreed the Transition Pathway for chemicals and is looking for solutions to many aspects of the move towards greater materials circularity and for the energy transition. The EU likes to incentivise investment and encourage climate change developments by regulation. Yet the adoption in the US last year of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provided a wake up call and highlighted how a different approach might accelerate climate action.
INSIGHT: Sustaining European assets in
higher cost, low-carbon
By Nigel Davis 02-Oct-23 22:50 LONDON (ICIS)–Companies across the value chain are accelerating towards decarbonisation trying to avoid the consequences that bumps in the road might bring but mindful of the destination. At the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting in Vienna last week it was clear that corporate carbon reduction pledges to wider society and the financial markets have a widespread impact, as producers, sellers and buyers of petrochemicals look to achieve targets on a regional as well as a global basis.
power winter supply margins adequate – system
By Calum Andrews 28-Sep-23 23:04 LONDON (ICIS)–The UK should be able to maintain adequate supply margins through Winter 2023, according to an outlook released by grid operator National Grid on 28 September.
’23: Europe petchem markets in trough, no
upturn expected for 2024
By Katherine Sale 27-Sep-23 21:17 VIENNA (ICIS)–The European petrochemical markets are in a trough, with no demand upturn expected for 2024.
stocks, low demand to shield Europe’s winter
gas supply margins
By Rob Dalton 27-Sep-23 20:12 LONDON (ICIS)–After weathering the global energy crisis last year, the European gas markets’ outlook for winter 2023-2024 has significantly improved amid high gas storage levels and subdued demand.
’23 INSIGHT: Europe petrochemicals face another
By Will Beacham 25-Sep-23 16:41 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Europe’s beleaguered petrochemical sector continues to be battered by persistent low demand, global overcapacity and cheap imports from China which are all contributing to poor margins.
Germany producer prices fall by a record
By Stefan Baumgarten 21-Sep-23 02:58 LONDON (ICIS)–Producer prices in Germany fell 12.6% year on year in August, marking the biggest year-on-year decline since 1949, when collection of the data began.
UK inflation edges down in August despite
higher fuel prices
By Morgan Condon 20-Sep-23 20:30 LONDON (ICIS)–UK annual inflation slowed for the third consecutive month in August, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Wednesday. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) was recorded at 6.7%, down from 6.8% in July, driven by softening inflation for food prices. Further contraction was offset by rising prices for motor fuels.
prices hit highest since Nov ‘22 on China
By Nurluqman Suratman 15-Sep-23 12:11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Upbeat August data on China’s industrial production and consumer spending accompanied by cuts in banks’ reserve requirement on Friday sent crude prices soaring to their highest level since November 2022.
INSIGHT: Lummus, Clariant
enhance PDH tech amid tougher propylene market
14-Sep-23 23:15 HOUSTON (ICIS)–The enhancements that Lummus Technology and catalyst producer Clariant have made to the CATOFIN propane dehydrogenation (PDH) technology will compete not just with the market leading Oleflex tech from Honeywell UOP, but with new entrants from Dow and KBR as well as renewable processes that have become more popular as companies strive to become more sustainable.
INSIGHT: ICIS Leading
Business Barometer gauges pressured global
By Nigel Davis 14-Sep-23 18:47 LONDON (ICIS)–The health of the chemical industry can be used as a bellwether for the that of the wider economy, tied as it is so closely to upstream energy and vitally important downstream industries and sectors, principally autos, construction and electronics.
PODCAST: Global oil Q4
tight supply could intensify on three
By Eloise Radley 14-Sep-23 16:03 LONDON (ICIS)–Crude prices rose above $90/bbl for the first time in 2023, in the week ending 8 September.
Europe, US economies to
grow in 2024, China slowdown to persist for
By Will Beacham 12-Sep-23 23:41 SITGES, SPAIN (ICIS)–Europe and the US economies should grow next year while China will be trapped in a prolonged multi-year slowdown, according to Koes De Leus, chief economist of BNP Paribas Fortis.
INSIGHT: Saudi, Russia
crude cuts firm prices but macro bearishness
casts a shadow
By Tom Brown 11-Sep-23 23:45 LONDON (ICIS)–News last week that Saudi Arabia and Russia are to extend voluntary crude oil output cuts through to the rest of the year has driven prices to the highest levels of the year, but economic weakness and stronger flows from elsewhere may cap gains.
Singapore factory activity improves in Aug but
major external headwinds
By Nurluqman Suratman 06-Sep-23 13:58 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The country’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose marginally to 49.9 in August from 49.8 in July, marking the third consecutive month of improvement, according to data from the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management.
INSIGHT: Styrene capacity build up shifts
global cost curve and threatens structural
By Moritz Lank 05-Sep-23 23:40 LONDON (ICIS)–High cost styrene production units are challenged in a difficult, slow-growing demand environment and one in which global capacity is building fast.
INSIGHT: Trinseo seeks breathing room amid
fiercely challenging market, financing
By Joseph Chang 07-Sep-23 03:55 NEW YORK (ICIS)–It has been a tough stretch for Trinseo as the polymers and latex binders producer seeks to refinance debt coming due next year amid fiercely challenging market and credit conditions, especially in Europe where it still operates a good chunk of assets even after shutdowns.
European caustic soda quiet during August lull,
spot prices under further
By Chris Barker 29-Aug-23 22:48 LONDON (ICIS)–European caustic soda players cut back activity in August, adding to the market’s already weak outlook.
Asia fatty alcohols mid-cuts C12-14 weakens on
feedstock PKO decline
By Helen Yan 30-Aug-23 12:40 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Despite ongoing and upcoming plant turnarounds, spot prices of mid-cuts C12-14 are facing downward pressure from the decline in the feedstock palm kernel oil (PKO) prices and stagnant demand.
Europe MA offers undercut Asian offers, some
restocking may be seen
By Anne-Sophie Briant-Vaghela 29-Aug-23 22:05 LONDON (ICIS)–European maleic anhydride (MA) prices could be near a bottom, although it remains to be seen how long the uptick or a halt in the downtrend will last given unanimous expectations that underlying demand will be stagnant for the rest of the year.
Europe jet fuel price
rally stalls following upstream volatility,
fading gasoil strength
By Shruti Salwan 25-Aug-23 17:17 LONDON (ICIS)–Consumption for aviation and road fuels has started to soften as the wind-down of the summer travel season begins, with lower gasoil and jet fuel spending exerting downward pressure on prices.
Economic Summary: US mild recession expected in
By Kevin Swift 25-Aug-23 03:30 CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (ICIS)–The US economy could enter a mild recession in H1 2024 as the lag effects from the Federal Reserve’s heavy dose of rate hikes finally kick in. The Fed has also signaled the potential for further hikes as core inflation remains sticky.
Gas sell-off to
trigger German peak spark spread
By Daniel Muir 24-Aug-23 22:48 LONDON (ICIS)–The sell off of benchmark natural gas contracts after Australian LNG strike risks eased should see clean peak spark spreads for German front-year delivery rebound in coming sessions, traders told ICIS.
Front-month clean dark
and clean spark spreads
By Anna Coulson 24-Aug-23 00:32 LONDON (ICIS)–Rising fuel costs saw German rolling front-month Clean Dark and Clean Spark Spreads improve slightly over the last seven days, but a weaker fuel mix saw coal and gas front-year profitability decrease.
Thailand 2023 growth
forecast cut to 2.5-3.0% after H1
By Nurluqman Suratman 21-Aug-23 15:37 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Thailand on Monday cut its full-year growth forecast to 2.5-3.0% after the economy slowed in the first half of the year due to the weakness in global demand which has weighed on exports and manufacturing.
INSIGHT: Shrinking China
trade signals trouble for chemicals
By Will Beacham 10-Aug-23 19:26 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Double-digit declines in China’s latest import and export figures, together with shrinking domestic manufacturing data, confirm a persistent collapse in demand for chemicals around the world.
Thailand’s PTTGC swings to Q2 net loss
on crude-led slump in product
By Pearl Bantillo 10-Aug-23 15:04 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Thai producer PTT Global Chemical swung into a net loss of baht (BT) 5.6bn ($159m) in the second quarter of 2023 as product prices tracked the slump in upstream crude prices amid global recession and petrochemical overcapacity concerns.
Saudi raises most Sept crude prices for
Asia; hikes all Europe
By James Dennis 08-Aug-23 10:49 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi Arabia issued its September Official Selling Prices (OSP), with price rises for most grades for customers in Asia and more marked increases for customers in northwest Europe and the Mediterranean, while there were no increases for US buyers.
Aramco Q2 net profit falls 37.9% on lower oil
prices, poor chemical
By Nurluqman Suratman 07-Aug-23 15:49 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Aramco’s net profit fell by 37.9% year on year in the second quarter on the back of lower crude oil prices and weakening refining and chemicals margins, the Saudi energy giant said on Monday.
shows signs of recovery; external headwinds
By Nurluqman Suratman 03-Aug-23 12:55 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore’s manufacturing sector showed signs of recovery in July as new orders improved, but export headwinds are expected to persist as economic conditions at major trading partners remain poor.
OUTLOOK: US BD, SBR
likely to remain oversupplied amid weak
By Amanda Hay 03-Aug-23 03:03 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US butadiene (BD) and styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) are expected to remain oversupplied through the second half of 2023 because of weak demand for tyres.
Austrian gas storage
withdrawals could buck 2022 trend in Q4
By Irina Breilean 02-Aug-23 22:54 LONDON (ICIS)–Austrian VTP price dynamics suggest storage withdrawals will likely concentrate during the first quarter of 2024, with VTP Q1 ’24 prices trading at a premium over Q4 ’23, October ’23 and November ’23.
INSIGHT: BASF grapples
with demand trough, slow road
By Tom Brown 02-Aug-23 21:12 LONDON (ICIS)–BASF and the wider chemicals sector is dealing with an environment more singular even than the conditions seen in the pandemic and 2008 financial crash according to BASF chief Martin Brudermuller, with little sign of a V-shaped recovery from the current demand trough.
start-up of Vietnam petrochemical complex
delayed amid weak global
By Pearl Bantillo 02-Aug-23 18:57 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Thailand’s Siam Cement Group (SCG) expects mechanical completion and commissioning of Vietnam’s first cracker in August to September, pushing back the full commercial start-up of the Long Son Petrochemical project to the second half of the year amid oversupply concerns in Asia.
rolls out fresh stimulus to boost growth as
July manufacturing contracts
By Fanny Zhang 31-Jul-23 16:30 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China has announced new measures to revive its fragile economy that has been losing steam since the second quarter, with the focus on boosting consumption.
INFOGRAPHIC: Europe PET in survival mode
despite peak summer season
By Miguel Rodriguez Fernandez 24-Jul-23 19:01 LONDON (ICIS)–Post-COVID life, coupled with the Russia-Ukraine war and the volatile macroeconomics it has unleashed, are upending consumers’ habits. Restaurants are full, tourism is booming, yet people are saving on supermarket purchases, which is severely hurting demand f or polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
IMF ups 2023 global GDP forecast, slowed growth
By Tom Brown 25-Jul-23 21:00 LONDON (ICIS)–The IMF on Tuesday modestly increased its global GDP growth estimates for 2023 while maintaining expectations that the recovery over the next 18 months will continue substantially slower than in 2022 as post-COVID headwinds and the Russia-Ukraine war weigh on the economy.
OUTLOOK: Europe polyols demand forecast
uncertain for H2
By Zubair Adam 26-Jul-23 17:00 LONDON (ICIS)–Polyols consumption in Europe was mainly limited in H1 2023, and there is no major recovery expected in H2.
OUTLOOK: Short-term European SBR demand
By Melissa Hurley 27-Jul-23 17:00 LONDON (ICIS)–European styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) demand has weakened in 2023 and the situation is expected to continue in the third quarter.
INSIGHT: Resurgence of Iran gas price debate as
politicians seek a rollback to
By Keven Zhang 28-Jul-23 12:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–In mid-July, an official announcement from the Iranian government stated that the natural gas price for petrochemical producers was Iranian rials (Rls)70,000/cubic metre, up from Rls50,000/cubic metre.
OUTLOOK: Europe PX braces
for a gloomy H2 amid recessionary
By Miguel Rodriguez Fernandez 21-Jul-23 17:00 LONDON (ICIS)–The Europe paraxylene (PX) market is getting ready to navigate a second half of the year marked by disappointing downstream demand, as the challenging macroeconomic scenario keeps denting orders from customers.
French nukes to drive
German gas-to-power demand in
By Eduardo Escajadillo 20-Jul-23 23:07 LONDON (ICIS)–German gas-fired generation could potentially gain momentum in August to compensate in the event of lower French nuclear power output amid warmer temperatures forecast in northwest Europe.
Ukraine needs more
realistic energy targets to attract investors,
By Aura Sabadus 20-Jul-23 17:42 LONDON (ICIS)–Ukraine must guarantee a stable regulatory environment and competitive market conditions if it is determined to attract investments to rebuild its war-ravaged energy sector, Andrii Zuphanyn, the chair of the gas subcommittee in the Ukrainian parliament told ICIS.
Profit warnings may drive
sell-side M&A – bankers
By Joseph Chang 20-Jul-23 04:55 NEW YORK (ICIS)–A very active earnings warning season for the chemical industry portending difficult conditions throughout 2023 could lead to more M&A activity, particularly on the sell side.
Robust domestic demand to
drive Asia ‘23 growth amid weak
By Nurluqman Suratman 19-Jul-23 14:31 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday maintained its growth outlook for developing economies in Asia and the Pacific at 4.8% this year as robust domestic demand continues to support the region’s recovery.
INSIGHT: Pakistan gets
much-needed reprieve; polymer imports to
By Pearl Bantillo 14-Jul-23 17:11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Billions of US dollars have started flowing into Pakistan after getting the much-awaited IMF stamp of approval that the south Asian nation will set its house in order, averting an impending sovereign debt default.
INSIGHT: Chems warn of
weak consumer goods, China as earnings season
By Al Greenwood 13-Jul-23 21:41 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Chemical companies have flagged weakness in consumer goods and China in a wave of profit warnings issued before the start of earnings season.
PODCAST: Falling chemical
prices signal switch from inflation to
By Will Beacham 12-Jul-23 20:07 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Falling chemical prices could be a leading indicator of a switch from inflation to deflation in the broader economy.
OUTLOOK: No respite from
economic pressures and weak demand for Europe
By Nicole Simpson 12-Jul-23 17:21 LONDON (ICIS)–Weak demand, strong competition between sellers and economic woe are expected to continue defining the European plasticizers spot market through the second half of 2023.
OUTLOOK: As busy
‘warnings season’ nears end, a new reality sets
in for H2 2023
By Joseph Chang 12-Jul-23 05:37 NEW YORK (ICIS)–A very active earnings warnings season for the chemical industry is just about over, resulting in a big reset downwards in earnings expectations for Q2 and the rest of the year. With a new reality setting in, the industry is bracing for earnings and new guidance that is likely to be far less optimistic than at the start of the year.
OUTLOOK: Asia methanol to
grapple with more supply; feedstock swings to
By Keven Zhang 11-Jul-23 11:40 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s methanol market is expected to grapple with increased global supply in the second half of 2023 as new capacities are slated to come on stream in China, Middle East and north America.
Europe suffers further
operating rate cuts as demand malaise,
By Will Beacham 07-Jul-23 16:49 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Collapsing demand and competition from other regions have led to further deterioration in operating rates for Europe’s petrochemical sector, new data from ICIS shows.
Korea removes tariffs on naphtha, crude imports
By Nurluqman Suratman 07-Jul-23 15:21 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–South Korea has removed tariffs imposed on naphtha and crude oil imports, to reduce cost burden for the domestic petrochemical industry and tame high inflation.
Ukraine can scale up wind
output despite war, market
By Aura Sabadus 06-Jul-23 20:01 LONDON (ICIS)–Ukraine could bring online as much as 55GW of wind capacity by 2050 despite major challenges related to the Russian invasion and issues linked to market design.
economic activity pressuring European oil
demand, refining margins
By Cecilia Barreiro 06-Jul-23 00:07 LONDON (ICIS)–It has been difficult for oil prices to push above the $80/bbl threshold as economic anxiety weighs on the market. Weak industrial and manufacturing demand in the US, EU and China has driven bearish market sentiment despite recent announcements from Saudi Arabia, Russia and Algeria of further supply cuts.
slips to mid-2020 levels as demand slows, rate
By Tom Brown 03-Jul-23 19:00 LONDON (ICIS)–Eurozone manufacturing sector activity slowed in June to the weakest level since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as demand continued to fall, confidence sank and producers started to feel the impact of the central bank’s interest rate hikes.
INSIGHT: China MTBE pushed into overseas
markets due to limited domestic
By Aviva Zhang 30-Jun-23 12:30 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Chinese methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) producers have been pushing into overseas markets since 2022 due to limited domestic consumption potential. Production capacity is in surplus and gasoline demand has plateaued.
Brazil’s chemicals May producer prices fall
sharply on lower naphtha values, stronger
By Jonathan Lopez 30-Jun-23 02:26 SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Brazil’s chemicals producer prices fell by nearly 6% in May, month on month, on the back of lower global naphtha values and a stronger currency bringing down prices in reais, the country’s statistics office IGBE said on Thursday.
INSIGHT: Worries over weak Asia PA6 and
domestic China market remain
By Josh Quah 28-Jun-23 20:25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia polyamide 6 (PA6) markets are ending the quarter with much of the concerns that have been prevalent since the start of it – against a backdrop of weak demand in most regions and already below-threshold margin levels under pressure of falling further.
OX imports into Europe up by nearly 10% in
By Miguel Rodriguez Fernandez 27-Jun-23 19:55 LONDON (ICIS)–Imports of orthoxylene (OX) into the EU and the United Kingdom went up by 9.9% in Q1 year on year, according to the latest data from the ICIS Supply and Demand database.
European heatwave could
dampen German power imports through
By Calum Andrews 23-Jun-23 01:05 LONDON (ICIS)–Germany is likely to maintain a net import position through July, market sources have suggested to ICIS, however the extent will largely hinge on European temperatures.
inflation further weakens 2023 industrial
demand for chemicals
By Nigel Davis 22-Jun-23 20:12 LONDON (ICIS)–Chemical producers in Europe are in an especially difficult position but operators worldwide have had to face up to the fact that demand recovery in 2023 appears increasingly distant.
INSIGHT: LANXESS CEO
‘Lehman 2’ warning highlights extreme and
broadening demand weakness
By Joseph Chang 21-Jun-23 05:29 NEW YORK (ICIS)–A huge earnings warning by Germany-based specialty chemicals company LANXESS highlights the extreme and extended weakness in European and global construction and electronics markets, along with surprising declines in “usually stable” consumer applications.
polyolefins overcapacity to worsen amid
By Nurluqman Suratman 20-Jun-23 14:38 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s polyolefins market is bracing for a supply overhang as heavy capacity additions coincide with a significant weakening of demand from the recession-laden eurozone, and amid the slowing Chinese economy.
Global weekly spot IPEX
down again on declines across
By Yashas Mudumbai 19-Jun-23 18:58 LONDON (ICIS)–The global spot ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) went down by 1.7% week on week on the back of price declines across all regions.
UK gas supply to boost exports over winter
By Hector Falconer 16-Jun-23 01:30 LONDON (ICIS)–National Gas released its Gas Winter Review and Consultation on 15 June. For this coming winter, the British grid operator expects:
INSIGHT: Shell joins list
of companies reviewing chemicals as demand
tanks, overcapacity grows
By Will Beacham 15-Jun-23 22:36 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Shell has joined the ranks of major chemical companies which are reviewing and rationalising their operations as demand and profitability continue to fall amid rampant overcapacity.
petrochemicals markets plunge in June on supply
length – ICIS analysts
By Ann Sun 15-Jun-23 18:24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Following a weak May, petrochemical markets in Asia are witnessing a further drop in prices in June on supply/demand imbalances.
INSIGHT: Shell to be
‘ruthless’ in capital allocation with Singapore
petchems, Europe units under
By Joseph Chang 15-Jun-23 05:29 NEW YORK (ICIS)–UK-based energy giant Shell will take a “ruthless” approach to capital allocation along with a focus on simplification. There will be a renewed commitment to oil and gas, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) where returns are expected to be the highest, while chemicals will come under greater scrutiny with the Singapore energy and petrochemical assets under review and European plants being evaluated “unit by unit”.
CRUDE OUTLOOK: Bearish demand narrative
confronted by tightening global oil
By Cecilia Barreiro 13-Jun-23 22:39 LONDON (ICIS)–Oil prices are expected to continue retreating during the rest of June as worries over the health of the global economy and bearish oil demand prospects depress market sentiment. However, dwindling spare capacity and a tighter sour-crude market could rekindle price volatility in July.
PODCAST: China, energy
transition spur volatility in oil and chemical
By Will Beacham 13-Jun-23 20:36 BARCELONA (ICIS)–As China’s economy decelerates and the shift to renewable energy gathers pace, prepare for much greater volatility in the oil and chemical markets.
Global spot IPEX down for
ninth consecutive week on falls across all
By Miguel Rodriguez Fernandez 12-Jun-23 19:31 LONDON (ICIS)–The global spot ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) went down by 1.8% week on week on the back of price declines across all regions.
Arabia 2023 GDP growth slows to 2.1% on oil
output cuts – IMF
By Nurluqman Suratman 08-Jun-23 15:31 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, is expected to post a slower GDP growth of 2.1% this year in view of production cuts announced in April, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Republic eyes SMRs development in addition to
standard reactors by 2030
By Simona Uhrinova 08-Jun-23 01:14 LONDON (ICIS)–The Czech Republic would need to develop small and medium sized modular reactors (SMRs) in addition to standard nuclear plants to reduce its dependence on cross-border imports before 2030.
China May petrochemical price index slumps 7%;
June demand stays weak
By Yvonne Shi 08-Jun-23 11:33 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Sluggish demand sent the ICIS China Petrochemical Price Index in May tumbling by 7% from end-April despite some stability in the upstream crude market during the period.
of gloomy summer for Europe PE,
By Ben Lake 06-Jun-23 19:25 LONDON (ICIS)–Polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) players in Europe are bracing for a challenging summer, with buyers worried by woeful demand, while producers closely monitor already lowered operating rates to avoid dipping into negative margins.
cuts Q2 sales guidance on challenging
By Joseph Chang 02-Jun-23 04:48 NEW YORK (ICIS)–US-based Dow is taking down its Q2 sales forecast to a range of $11.0bn-11.5bn from its prior estimate of $11.75bn-12.25bn on challenging macroeconomic conditions and lower pricing levels, its CEO said at an investor conference.
PODCAST: Ukraine SOE
corporate governance is vital for
By Aura Sabadus 01-Jun-23 21:28 LONDON (ICIS)– Corporate governance rules at Ukraine’s energy state owned enterprises (SOEs) have been critical to market reforms and to helping the country secure a long-term gas transit contract with Russia.
Asia C2 outlook downbeat on rising regional
supply, weak China data
By Yeow Pei Lin 01-Jun-23 11:26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Northeast Asia’s ethylene (C2) players are cautious on expectations of rising regional supplies and weak downstream outlook for the third quarter as the recovery in the Chinese economy loses momentum.
Caixin China May
manufacturing PMI rises to 50.9, first
expansion in three months
By Nurluqman Suratman 01-Jun-23 11:26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Caixin’s China manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) picked up from 49.5 in April to 50.9 in May, marking the first expansion in three months, the Chinese media firm said on Thursday.
stocks could curb Italian Q4 ‘23 gas and power
By Camilla Vitanza 31-May-23 23:44 LONDON (ICIS)– High gas storage levels could reduce some of the risk premium priced in the Italian gas and power Q4 ’23 products ahead of expiry, although LNG supply will likely remain a key driver.
manufacturing weakness weighs on crude; outlook
By Nurluqman Suratman 31-May-23 13:36 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s manufacturing sector lost further momentum in May, heightening concerns that oil consumption in the world’s second-biggest economy could weaken further.
prices and margins under relentless
By Nigel Davis 31-May-23 00:38 LONDON (ICIS)–The persistent global weak demand environment continues to put pressure on producers and prices are falling as the balance with output remains elusive.
PODCAST: Demand flops in
chemical markets around the world, gloomy
By Will Beacham 30-May-23 20:25 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Chemical markets around the world are suffering from collapsed demand conditions and oversupply with no prospect of a turnaround in the coming months.
manufacturing activity weighing on PP
By Zachary Moore 26-May-23 05:40 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Demand for polypropylene (PP) in the US is facing a bearish short-term outlook as the US manufacturing sector remains in contractionary territory.
INSIGHT: A tale of two
economies, as resurgent services eclipses
By Tom Brown 25-May-23 23:05 LONDON (ICIS)–After the dark warnings of late 2022, ministers at the European Commission could be forgiven for sounding a little smug.
PODCAST: Rampant China
chemicals overcapacity could rebalance by
By Will Beacham 25-May-23 21:00 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Excess capacity plaguing China’s petrochemical markets could return to more balanced conditions by 2024/5 as the current wave of additions ends and demand gradually improves.
’23: INSIGHT: Asia petrochemicals navigate poor
demand amid China start-ups; carve ‘green’
By Pearl Bantillo 24-May-23 19:50 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Uncertainties will hound Asia’s petrochemical markets for the rest of the year and possibly into 2024 amid the global economic slowdown at a time of strong capacity additions in regional powerhouse China.
petrochemicals demand remains weak and prices
under intense pressure
By Nigel Davis 23-May-23 23:10 LONDON (ICIS)–This striking chart from Germany’s chemicals and pharmaceuticals trade association, the VCI, does not even tell the full story for the country’s petrochemical and polymers sectors.
’23: Asia PE, PP margins to stay in unhealthy
range despite China
By Nurluqman Suratman 19-May-23 19:25 NEW DELHI (ICIS)–Asia’s polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) markets are expected to face poor margins across all production routes despite China’s reopening, an industry analyst said on Friday.
’23: Japan petrochemical plants run at 80% on
By Pearl Bantillo 19-May-23 17:13 NEW DELHI (ICIS)–Japan’s petrochemical plants have been running at an average rate of about 80% amid demand uncertainties this year, an industry executive told ICIS.
INSIGHT: Fundamental Asia
olefin imbalance persists despite better
By Joey Zhou 19-May-23 14:00 SINGAPORE(ICIS)–Asia olefin margins from major production routes have improved and remained in profitable territory since March, driven by lower feedstock prices.
Eurozone inflation rises on energy cost
By Morgan Condon 17-May-23 20:05 LONDON (ICIS)–Eurozone inflation edged up slightly on persistent pressure from energy costs in April, as the rate for the wider EU showed a soft decrease, according to the latest data from the EU’s statistical agency Eurostat on Wednesday. Annual inflation in the eurozone rose to 7.0%, up from 6.9% in March. In the wider EU, annual inflation fell to 8.1%, from 8.3% in the previous month. Compared to a year prior, inflation for the eurozone remained slightly softer, as the rate was pitched at 7.4% in April 2022, while the level remained stable on the previous year for the EU at 8.1%.
Global oil demand expectations for 2023
increased in May on stronger China recovery –
By Morgan Condon 16-May-23 22:25 LONDON (ICIS)–Global oil demand is set to increase in 2023, driven by strength in China, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Tuesday. The IEA’s monthly oil report shows that demand is expected to rise by 2.2m bbl/day year on year in 2023, marking an average 102m bbl/day, supported by economic recovery in China surpassing expectations. Macroeconomic pressures and soft demand was reflected in weaker oil pricing in April and early May, caused lingering concerns of a recession in some regions. The IEA, however, increased its output forecast on a strong recovery in the second half of the year. China is expected to account for nearly 60% of global growth in 2023.
INSIGHT: Weak demand dominates
chemicals in Q2 as economies
By Nigel Davis 11-May-23 00:41 LONDON (ICIS)–The persistence and wide spread of the demand slump is the key issue for chemical producers in 2023, now mid-way through the second quarter. Recent financial reporting from chemical companies of all types and in all locations has underlined the impact of weak demand on sales in the first quarter. The year-on-year comparisons have proved to be stark, and reduced production the driver of lower revenues at a time of still high costs of sales. Certainly, the focus in Europe and large parts of the rest of the world has shifted from energy costs (and availability).
Higher feedstock costs,
slow demand maintain pressure on US polyether
By Zachary Moore 21-Apr-23 06:41 HOUSTON (ICIS)–A combination of higher feedstock costs along with slower demand has been maintaining pressure on margins for US polyether polyol producers, with margins likely to remain compressed over the next few months.
petchems in Europe still waiting for
construction season, Q2 may be reality
By Vicky Ellis 20-Apr-23 21:45 LONDON (ICIS)–As warmer, sunnier days grow more frequent, Europe’s construction industry should be ramping up for a busy period. But the season is proving a disappointment, with weaker demand across a wide range of petrochemical and plastics products.
INSIGHT: Hope for 2023
European construction market recovery falters
as spring demand uptick fails to
By Nicole Simpson 19-Apr-23 20:52 LONDON (ICIS)–Since late 2022, chemicals players have been hopeful that better demand is just around the corner but optimism is faltering as economic conditions remain challenging and spring construction demand has failed to ignite.
INSIGHT: Diverse Asia
April price trends for olefins and aromatics
By Jimmy Zhang 19-Apr-23 19:15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)– Weak consumer confidence and economic pressures are expected to weigh on the price outlook for Asia petrochemicals.
summer demand to drop, exports to France in Q3
By Anna Coulson 19-Apr-23 00:07 LONDON (ICIS)–National Grid is confident that there will be sufficient supply to meet electricity demand over the summer, the UK’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) announced in its Summer Outlook 2023 on 18 April.
Global oil demand growth
hopes pinned on faltering Chinese
By Barney Gray 12-Apr-23 18:42 LONDON (ICIS)–Chinese government data for March, published earlier this month, indicated that domestic consumer demand is weak and the manufacturing sector was under pressure at the end of Q1, which could hinder the anticipated China-led growth in global oil demand.
keeps developing Asia 2023 growth forecast at
5.3%; trims India
By Nurluqman Suratman 12-Apr-23 13:23 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has kept its 2023 growth forecast for developing Asia at 5.3% but trimmed its forecast for next year amid rising risks in global financial conditions.
INSIGHT: Europe chemicals
must wait until 2026/7 for gas cost
By Will Beacham 11-Apr-23 22:58 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Although record inflows of liquefied natural gas (LNG) have helped European gas prices fall, a cold winter could see them soar, with relief from volatility only in prospect for petrochemical customers by 2026/7 when major new sources come onstream globally.
INSIGHT: Vietnam economy
sputters as first petrochemical complex about
to start up
By Pearl Bantillo 06-Apr-23 11:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Vietnam hopes to stem deteriorating manufacturing conditions, borne of weak external demand, by cutting the cost of borrowing to spur domestic activity as it gears toward commercial operations of its first petrochemicals complex.
auto sector faces economic headwinds on rising
interest rates, higher
By Adam Yanelli 05-Apr-23 05:05 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US March auto sales ticked lower from February as economic headwinds have replaced supply chain issues as obstacles facing the industry that relies heavily on chemicals.
Developing Asia 2023 GDP
to grow faster at 4.8% but downside risks
remain – ADB
By Nurluqman Suratman 04-Apr-23 12:10 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Developing economies in the Asia Pacific region are projected to grow at a faster pace of 4.8% this year and in 2024 on the back of higher consumption, tourism and investments due to continued easing of pandemic restrictions, but downside risks remain, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.
INSIGHT: Europe chems
look to tough Q2 as economic indicators remain
By Tom Brown 03-Apr-23 21:47 LONDON (ICIS)–With expectations growing for some of the headwinds buffeting the chemicals sector to ease in the second half of the year, conditions remain challenging for the second quarter, while economic indicators point to a continuing “volatile phase” according to an analyst.
surges after surprise OPEC+ output cut, lifting
Asia naphtha, benzene
By Nurluqman Suratman 03-Apr-23 12:57 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Oil prices rose by more than $6/bbl on Monday after the OPEC and its allies unexpectedly announced further production cuts of about 1.16m barrels per day on Sunday.
Hungary unlikely to reach EU
intermediate gas storage
By Irina Breilean 29-Mar-23 12:53 LONDON (ICIS)–Hungary may not reach the next EU intermediate storage fullness target on 1 May, ICIS analysis indicates. EU intermediate targets have been in place since November 2022, in preparation for the start of the 2023 gas winter. The targets apply to all member states with underground gas storage sites on their territories and directly interconnected to their market areas. Intermediate targets are in force for 1 February, 1 May, 1 July, and 1 September, two months ahead of the beginning of the gas year. ICIS data shows storage sites across Hungary were 33.2% full on 27 March, a 26.2 percentage point increase compared to last year. However, this still stands 3.8 percentage points short of the upcoming May target of 37%.
Joint gas purchasing uptake may be slow
as buyers locked into
By Gretchen Ransow 28-Mar-23 23:20 LONDON (ICIS)–Uptake of the EU’s joint purchasing model may be limited in its first year, as companies were already locked into contracts due to “huge panic” about prices in 2022, European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic told the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) on 28 March. However, if the platform does prove successful the EU wants to extend the model beyond gas to other strategic commodities such as hydrogen, critical raw materials or technologies linked to the energy transition. Sefcovic told ITRE on 28 March that there was still much work to do but joint gas purchasing would give valuable experience for the future.
Ukraine’s new policy proposals to
By Aura Sabadus 28-Mar-23 00:22 LONDON (ICIS)–Ukraine is preparing a raft of wide-ranging regulations that could pave the way for the complete overhaul of its energy sector. The step is a priority for the mid-term, a senior Kyiv-based lawyer told ICIS. Maksym Sysoiev, partner at global law firm Dentons, said the reconstruction of the energy sector is deemed a priority for Ukraine and added that if all regulations that are now under discussion are implemented, they would trigger a “revolution” in the energy sector.
Russia to extend export restrictions on
fertilizers until November
By Deepika Thapliyal 27-Mar-23 22:39 LONDON (ICIS)–Russia is planning to extend restrictions on fertilizer exports until November to guarantee availability in the domestic market, according to the country’s agriculture minister Dmitry Patrushev. Current restrictions on exports are valid until end-May. To curb inflation and to ensure that there was a reliable supply of fertilizers to its farmers, the government imposed export quotas in December 2021. The restrictions have continued since the war with Ukraine broke out in February 2022, although they have not had a significant impact on the availability of Russian fertilizer exports – apart from nitrates.
petrochemicals demand tepid on macroeconomy,
By Nurluqman Suratman 24-Mar-23 14:16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s petrochemical markets continue to face tepid demand as economic recovery in regional bellwether China remains slower than initially expected, with new production capacities adding to oversupply concerns.
subdued with underwhelming
By Mathew Jolin-Beech 24-Mar-23 01:26 LONDON (ICIS)–The European acrylates markets are all currently subdued with demand described as “soft.”
Economic Summary: US regional banking crisis
lowers odds of soft landing
By Joseph Chang 23-Mar-23 22:21 NEW YORK (ICIS)–The failure of two sizeable banks (Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank) in the US and the crisis of confidence contagion spreading to other regional banks and now European financial institutions threatens to significantly tighten lending conditions at the very least, further slowing economic growth and potentially tipping US and European economies into recession.
PMDI import markets bearish on poor downstream
By Shannen Ng 23-Mar-23 15:12 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asian import markets for polymeric methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (PMDI) were dominated by largely bearish sentiment in the week ended 22 March.
PODCAST: Asia, Mideast PS
demand tepid on competitive imports, feedstock
By Damini Dabholkar 23-Mar-23 11:14 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asian and Middle Eastern polystyrene (PS) markets are seeing slow demand with regional supply remaining relatively unchanged.
INSIGHT: US Fed
undeterred from 2% inflation goal means more
tough times ahead for
By Joseph Chang 23-Mar-23 05:34 NEW YORK (ICIS)–Even amid a regional banking crisis, the US Federal Reserve remains undeterred in its goal of bringing inflation down to its 2% target. This was evidenced by another 0.25 percentage point rate hike and will mean weakening economic conditions, a lower chance of a soft landing and a more challenging demand environment for chemicals going forward.
Phenol energy surcharges
will start to disappear on lower TTF, but no
demand improvement seen
By Jane Gibson 23-Mar-23 00:57 LONDON (ICIS)–Falling upstream gas prices may offer chemical sellers and buyers some relief but the impact on demand levels has yet to be significant.
shipping rates point to normalising global
logistics, Europe under
By Will Beacham 22-Mar-23 22:58 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Steep falls in container shipping rates indicate that the pandemic-induced logistics crisis may be drawing to a close, but this now makes Europe more vulnerable to a flood of cheap imports from Asia.
R-PET buying sentiment weakens in wake of
By Arianne Perez 22-Mar-23 20:11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asian exporters of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) cargoes are expected to continue to see cautious buying from converters in the US following the banking crisis.
INSIGHT: New PE/PP
capacities risk derailing nascent Asia
By Izham Ahmad 22-Mar-23 17:28 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–A wave of new polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) supply in Asia is threatening to upend the tentative demand recovery the region has been experiencing since the end of the Lunar New Year holidays as new suppliers fight to establish market share in an increasingly crowded market.
polyamide 6,6 Q2 mood darkened by fiscal year
closing, demand outlook
By Josh Quah 22-Mar-23 13:12 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s nylon polyamide 6,6 (PA66) markets remain weak, ahead of turnarounds coming up for some producers in northeast Asia.
PP prices fall to nearly three-year low amid
increasing supply, lower-than-expected
By Lucy Shuai 22-Mar-23 12:44 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China polypropylene (PP) prices fell to a nearly three-year-low amid increasing supply and lower-than-expected demand, and the market may remain under pressure in Q2.
naphtha swings to multi-month lows on volatile
By Melanie Wee 21-Mar-23 13:42 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s naphtha markets can expect heightened volatility, largely tracking crude oil futures movement, as demand prospects are being weighed down by market jitters over the health of the global banking system.
PODCAST: Subdued spot
trading activity in Europe’s oxo-alcohols and
By Marion Boakye 21-Mar-23 03:35 LONDON (ICIS)–Throughout March – the oxo-alcohols and derivative markets in Europe have experienced weak spot demand, ample supply, and thin import opportunities.
consumer budgets limit demand for major
chemicals consuming sectors
By Nigel Davis 21-Mar-23 00:49 LONDON (ICIS)–This is by no means an easy time for chemical producers as the industry’s major downstream markets continue to be influenced by the impact on demand of rising costs and higher interest rates.
Europe’s chemical sector
shrinks – battered by high costs, poor demand
and cheaper imports
By Will Beacham 20-Mar-23 23:10 BARCELONA (ICIS)–Collapsing Q4 profits and losses for European chemical majors, together with low expectations for 2023, show just how badly the sector is still suffering.
Europe markets firm after
emergency UBS Credit Suisse
By Tom Brown 20-Mar-23 20:15 LONDON (ICIS)–European markets firmed on Monday after Switzerland-based banking group UBS announced plans to acquire embattled rival Credit Suisse, raising market hopes that banking sector contagion may be limited.
Global weekly spot IPEX
down on price declines across
By Will Beacham 20-Mar-23 19:11 LONDON (ICIS)–The global weekly spot ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) fell by 2.0% week on week on the back of lower index values across regions.
PODCAST: Asian PP markets
grapple with increased supply,
lower-than-expected demand in
By Damini Dabholkar 20-Mar-23 19:06 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asian polypropylene (PP) markets are being challenged by increasing capacity in 2023, especially in the China market, while demand continues to recover more slowly than expected.
dips to lowest since December 2021 on banking
By James Dennis 20-Mar-23 17:52 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Crude prices declined on Monday to their lowest levels since December 2021 before recovering on growing financial concerns following equity market losses and instability in the banking sector in Asian trading.
petrochemical shares, oil prices weaken after
UBS rescue of Credit Suisse
By Nurluqman Suratman 20-Mar-23 12:43 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Shares of petrochemical companies in Asia were mostly weaker and crude futures fell on Monday on fears of a banking crisis contagion, as troubled Credit Suisse was rescued by its Swiss rival UBS in a government-backed deal.
INSIGHT: European TiO2
operations at risk, but China may not be the
By Heidi Finch 17-Mar-23 17:53 LONDON (ICIS)–While energy costs in Europe are more relaxed compared with 2022 peaks, the TiO2 marketand the wider chemical industry in Europe are still facing residual economic and demand headwinds. European production is at risk, while China/Asia capacity is increasing.
glycerine demand weighed down by caution after
US bank collapse and turmoil
By Helen Yan 17-Mar-23 11:48 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s glycerine spot demand has been weighed down by prevailing caution following the collapse of two mid-sized banks in the US and plunging bank stocks in Europe.
contagion threatens to spread, hit chemicals
By Joseph Chang 17-Mar-23 05:47 NEW YORK (ICIS)–The failure of two sizeable banks (Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank) in the US and the crisis of confidence contagion spreading to other US regional banks and now European financial institutions threatens to significantly tighten lending conditions at the very least, further slowing economic growth and potentially tipping the US and European economies into recession.
naphtha tumbles on tepid demand; crude oil
By Melanie Wee 16-Mar-23 12:56 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia naphtha markets are under pressure on the back of fragile demand, while taking cues from global crude oil futures.
INSIGHT: Banking woes
rattle US chem shares
By Al Greenwood 16-Mar-23 05:03 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Shares of US-listed chemical companies fell on Wednesday amid concerns about the implications of a string of bank failures.
Topic Page by Aura Sabadus and Will Beacham. Additional reporting by Richard Ewing and Sophie Udubasceanu. Maps and graphs by Yashas Mudumbai.
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