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Despite recent weather, US crops making steady progress with corn silking now at 41%
HOUSTON (ICIS)–US crops continue to be making steady progress despite the recent stormy weather and elevated temperatures persisting with there now being 41% of corn silking and 51% of soybeans blooming, according to the latest US Department of Agriculture (USDA) weekly crop progress report. For the corn crop, this current pace of silking is above the 40% rate achieved in 2023 as well as the five-year average of 32%. Corn reaching the dough stage is now at 8% of the crop, which is ahead of the 6% achieved last year and the five-year average of 4%. For corn conditions, the USDA showed them as unchanged week on week with there still being 3% of the crop rated as very poor and 6% as poor, with 23% considered fair, 52% labeled as good and 16% as excellent. For soybeans, there is 51% of the acreage which has reached blooming, which is equal to the 51% mark from 2023 but the current pace of the crop is ahead of the five-year average of 44%. Soybean acreage which is setting pods increased to 18%, which is slightly above the 17% level seen last season and is higher than the five-year average of 12%. For soybean conditions, there continues to be 2% of the crop viewed as very poor with 6% remaining as poor, with 24% still considered fair. The USDA now lists 56% of the acreage as good with there now being 12% viewed as excellent. In harvesting updates, the crop report reflects that winter wheat is now 71% completed, which is farther along than 53% achieved in 2023 and above the five-year average of 62%. Currently, Arkansas and Oklahoma have finished their acreage, followed closely by several states now at 97% completed, including Missouri and Texas.
Stolthaven Terminals chosen as potential operator for Brazil green ammonia export terminal
HOUSTON (ICIS)–Logistics firm Stolthaven Terminals announced that in cooperation with Global Energy Storage (GES), it has been selected as the only potential operator to design, build and operate a green ammonia terminal in Brazil to be located within the industrial export zone at Pecem in the state of Ceara. The Port of Pecem Authority, referred to as CIPP, awarded the rights to the partnership after a 15-month tender process involving global storage providers. Stolthaven said this development will see the production of green hydrogen and ammonia and allow offshore markets access to one of the most competitive sources of this renewable energy. During the next phase, with the involvement of all parties including ammonia producers, the basic engineering of the terminals will be undertaken before confirmation of the official contract. In 2023, Stolthaven Terminals and GES agreed upon a partnership to develop and operate an export terminal for hydrogen and its derivatives with Stolthaven already having a local presence in Brazil with 42 years of experience as a storage provider in the Port of Santos. “We are proud to be chosen by CIPP as the right partner for its Hydrogen Hub. This is one more step towards executing our strategy for growth and supporting our customers in transitioning to green energy,” said Marcelo Schmitt, Stolthaven Santos general manager. “Brazil is fast becoming a new export powerhouse for biofuels and renewable energies and our extensive local and global experience, together with the expertise of our partner GES, will make it a successful and exciting development for the storage industry.”
Silver Valley Metals selling Idaho project to refocus on Mexico lithium and SOP project
HOUSTON (ICIS)–Brownfield exploration company Silver Valley Metals announced it has signed an asset purchase agreement for the Ranger-Page project in Idaho which will allow it to refocus efforts at its lithium and potash project in central Mexico. The firm said the decision came after careful consideration of its options about how to move forward in the most effective and least capital dilutive way. With two significant projects and a share structure that remains intact, the company said entering a sale with Silver Dollar Resources Incorporated was considered to be the most strategic option. Part of the decision was based on them having continued participation in the Ranger-Page project through its 12% equity stake in Silver Dollar. Silver Valley Metals CEO Brandon Rook said selling the Ranger-Page project will help relieve the company from having to undergo substantial capital dilution in order to meet the financial obligations it has over the next 15 months. “We believe there is strong upside to Silver Dollar’s share value because of its tier one assets in their portfolio today. With this transaction, Silver Valley avoids diluting its shares on a 2X plus multiple and adds dollars to the treasury at the same time,” said Rook. Following the transaction, the company said it will be in a good position to refocus efforts at its lithium and sulphate of potash (SOP) project located in the states of Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi. Comprised of 4,056 hectares over three mineral concessions, the project’s inferred mineral resource has demonstrated that the area contains 12.3 million tonnes of SOP and 243,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent.

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Westlake appoints Jean-Marc Gilson as new CEO, effective today
NEW YORK (ICIS)–US-based chemical and building materials producer Westlake Corp has appointed Jean-Marc Gilson as president and CEO, effective 15 July. He succeeds Albert Chao, who becomes executive chairman of the Westlake board of directors. Gilson most recently served as president and CEO of Japan-based Mitsubishi Chemical Group from 2021 until March 2024. From 2014-2020, Gilson served as CEO of France-based Roquette, a family-owned global leader in plant-based ingredients and a leading provider of pharmaceutical excipients. James Chao, the current chairman of the board, will become senior chairman. All these appointments take effect 15 July. “I am excited to welcome Jean-Marc as the newest addition to Westlake’s management team. Westlake is in a very strong position supported by a world-class team, and, having served as the CEO of Westlake for the last 20 years, now is the right time to implement our succession plan,” said Albert Chao, who noted Gilson’s 25 years of executive experience in the chemical industry in the US, Europe and Asia. “I am honored and humbled to become the second, and first non-family, CEO of Westlake,” said Gilson. “I have long admired Westlake as a best-in-class company at the forefront of delivering life-enhancing products through innovation in essential materials and building products,” he added. Jean-Marc Gilson also becomes president and CEO and a director of Westlake Chemical Partners GP LLC, the general partner of Westlake Chemical Partners LP. Albert Chao will become executive chairman and James Chao will become senior chairman of the Westlake Chemical Partners GP LLC board of directors. UBS analyst Joshua Spector said the timing comes as a “bit of surprise”. The Chao family owns around 75% of Westlake Corp, and Gilson’s 25 years of experience skews towards specialty chemicals, he noted. Key questions will be around Westlake’s strategy and commitment to growing the building products business, Spector added.
ICIS Hydrogen Insights Podcast
LONDON (ICIS)–Here you can find the latest edition of our monthly hydrogen podcast, where ICIS hydrogen market experts discuss key trends from across the supply chain of this developing market. For more information on ICIS hydrogen content, please email ICIS global hydrogen editor at
BLOG: The time for action to protect European chemicals is now
LONDON (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Chemicals & The Economy by Paul Hodges, which looks at the growing risk that Europe will deindustrialise. Editor’s note: This blog post is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS. Paul Hodges is the chairman of consultants New Normal Consulting.
Europe top stories: weekly summary
LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 12 July. Europe ethylene spot prices turn firmer on demand, feedstock, looming cracker turnarounds European ethylene spot prices have firmed week on week on the back of better-than-expected demand amid higher feedstock values and an increasing focus on upcoming planned cracker maintenance outages. Global crude demand slows in Q2, China consumption contracts – IEA Global crude oil demand slumped to 710,000 bbl/day in Q2 2024 as China’s post-pandemic economic rebound ran its course, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday. Storm Beryl damage, economic loss to US estimated at $28-32 billion Total damage and economic loss in the US from Storm Beryl amounted to $28-32 billion, according to meteorology firm AccuWeather. Europe chemicals players expect construction demand to remain sluggish until H1 2025 Chemicals players in Europe do not expect any substantial recovery from the building and construction industry until the first half of 2025 at least. Flooding to continue across central US as Beryl moves inland Flash flooding is expected as Storm Beryl continues to progress across the central US, with blackouts and logistic shutdowns seen in parts of Texas. ‘Life-threatening’ storm surge in Texas as Hurricane Beryl makes US landfall Hurricane Beryl has made landfall in eastern Texas and looks set to batter parts of the state’s key petrochemicals production hubs, with the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) warning of a life-threatening storm surge on Monday.
INSIGHT: China maps out economic strategy to wiggle out of slump
SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China kicked off a major meeting in Beijing on Monday to map out the economic future of the world’s second-biggest economy, whose recovery is being hindered by a property slump now on its third year, and a manufacturing overcapacity. Q2 GDP growth slows to 4.7% Fiscal reforms, US/EU protectionism, private sector promotion to be discussed Government may push for more affordable housing measures The Communist Party of China (CPC) is holding a third plenary session or plenum since the members were elected in October 2022, in the Chinese capital from 15-18 July. The pivotal meeting began just as China reported a slowdown in annualized GDP growth in the second quarter at 4.7% from a 5.3% pace in the January-March 2024. The world awaits policy announcements from the closed-door meeting, in which Chinese leaders are expected to discuss fiscal and tax reforms, strategies to counter protectionism from the US and EU, promotion of domestic private sector, and address the country’s ailing real estate market. The third plenum typically sets China’s economic agenda over the medium term, with Xi Jinping serving his third term as Chinese president. The CPC’s Central Committee typically holds seven plenary sessions during its five-year term, with the third plenum typically garnering significant international interest. China is currently on its 14th Five-Year Plan, which covers 2021 to 2025. “The third plenum is in the middle of the five-year plan of the Chinese Communist Party and therefore is unlikely to witness major policies,” Alex Ng, founder and head of research at Hong Kong-based Fortress Hill Advisors, said in a note for investment research and analysis firm Smartkarma. “Rather, there will be fine-tuning of existing policy direction and some sector-specific measures.” The third plenum was delayed from late-2023 as Chinese leaders have had to grapple with a multitude of domestic and external headwinds. First-quarter annualized economic growth was robust at 5.3%, driven by strong manufacturing and industrial output, despite patchy consumer spending. However, second-quarter GDP growth has slowed to 4.7% as consumption weakened, official data showed on Monday. China’s government has already taken measures to stabilize growth further this year. In March, the country’s State Council issued an action plan to promote large-scale equipment renewals and trade-ins of consumer goods. This was followed by the latest property rescue package in mid-May, comprising of both supply and demand side measures. KEY AREAS TO WATCH A resolution will be presented at third plenum focused on “comprehensively deepening reform and advancing Chinese modernization”, aiming to establish a “high-level socialist market economy” by 2035, according to an official CPC document. “This indicates that the focus of the reforms will be on promoting long-term high quality economic development that centers on innovation, technology, green transition and the people,” said Ho Woei Chen, economist at Singapore-based UOB Global Economics & Markets Research. “The youth unemployment, ageing population, hukou system and promotion of domestic consumption may also come into the picture.” FISCAL AND TAX REFORMWith local government’s revenue from land sales drying up and a high debt overhang, the central government will need to transfer more resources to the local governments and broaden their income sources, Ho said. This would help to sustain the economic recovery as the local governments oversee stimulating their own regional growth, leading to more equitable development, she said. “Reforms to the consumption tax and a broad-based property tax to provide steady income streams for local governments could be considered,” Ho said. China’s central government collects the majority of the country’s revenue but allocates most of it to provincial and local governments, which are responsible for the majority of government expenditures. This leaves local governments strapped for cash, especially with the struggling property market. As a result, many local governments are now facing a serious debt crisis. EYES ON PROPERTY MEASURESWhile the continuing property market downturn requires further attention from the government, new stimulus measures are unlikely to be unveiled at the third plenum. China announced its latest rescue package for the property market in May. The measures to-date have relaxed buying restrictions and downpayment requirements, reduced the borrowing costs and established a yuan (CNY) 300 billion ($41 billion) re-lending program for social housing. Nonetheless, the government could reiterate the direction towards affordable housing market, including the conversion of unsold homes into affordable housing. As of end-2023, the housing ministry has achieved two thirds of its target to provide 8.7 million units of government-subsidized rental housing in the 14th five-year plan for 2021-2025. NEW FORCES FOR PRODUCTIVITYDuring a visit to Heilongjiang province in September 2023, China President Xi urged the nation to mobilize “new quality productive forces” to stimulate economic growth. This refers to the promotion of new growth drivers for the economy, specifically innovation in advanced sectors and industrial system modernization, alongside the upgrading of traditional sectors such as property and lower value-added manufacturing and assembly to enhance efficiency and sustainability. Xi emphasized that China wants quality growth and not just high growth for its economy. This was clearly the CPC’s top priorities at this year’s National People’s Congress (NPC) in March, critical for its economic sustainability, stability, and security. CPC officials have also emphasized education, the development of science and technology in its efforts to build a modern industrial system. Insight article by Nurluqman Suratman ($1 = CNY7.26) Thumbnail image: Large machinery loading containers onto the China-Europe freight train in Lianyungang, China, on 14 July 2024. (Costfoto/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)
PODCAST: China propylene capacity expected in H2; demand to also improve
SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s propylene (C3) market will continue to see new capacities coming from China in H2 2024, while demand is also likely to improve as new derivative projects come up. Margin challenges may continue to impact the market by altering the operations for C3 and its derivatives. As China is the largest producer and consumer globally, dynamics in the country will impact the wider Asia C3 market. In this podcast, ICIS senior analyst Joey Zhou discusses with ICIS analyst Seymour Chenxia the trends and outlook for Asia’s C3 market in 2024.
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