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VIDEO: Europe R-PET colourless flake rise in NWE, UK while Polish bales fall
LONDON (ICIS)–Senior Editor for Recycling, Matt Tudball, discusses the latest developments in the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market, including: Colourless (C) flake prices rise in NWE, UK EU Commission definitive ADD on Chinese PET, R-PET come into force Polish C bales drop from March highs Food-grade pellet demand uncertain ahead of 2025
VIDEO: Gas In Focus energy highlights
LONDON (ICIS)–Gas In Focus deputy-editor Marta Del Buono and market expert Aura Sabadus discuss Turkey’s long-standing ambition of becoming a regional gas hub and how it has been hindered by lack of price deregulation and political tensions. The spike in gas prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made coal and renewables more competitive hurting gas’s chances to play a greater role in the country.
Crude demand expectations fall for 2024 as trends shift back to pre-COVID pattern – IEA
LONDON (ICIS)–The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Friday cut crude oil demand forecasts for the year, with rates expected to fall further next year as consumption returns to the pre-COVID-19 trend, increasing the odds of a peak in oil consumption this decade, the agency said. The IEA expects crude demand growth to average 1.2 million barrels/day this year, an increase from October projections of 900,000 barrels/day but a decline from the 1.3 million barrels/day projected in its monthly oil market report in March. This level of growth is expected to slow next year to 1.1 million barrels/day, representing a shift back to the trajectory of crude demand before the pandemic, increasing the chances that global demand will peak this decade, according to the agency. “Global oil demand growth is currently in the midst of a slowdown… bringing a peak in consumption into view this decade,” said Toril Bosoni, IEA head of oil industry, and markets and oil market analyst Ciaran Healy. “This is primarily the result of a normalization of growth following the disruptions of 2020-2023, when oil markets were shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic and then the global energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” they added. Global crude oil demand 2011-25 (Source: IEA) Increasing fuel efficiency standards and electric vehicles comprising a larger chunk of the auto market are also affecting the rate of oil demand growth, the IEA added. Crude supply growth is expected to average 770,000 barrels/day this year, led by non-OPEC sources, particularly the US, offsetting a projected 820,0000 barrel/day decline year on year from OPEC+ cuts. Production growth could firm to 1.6 million barrels/day next year. Despite the projected demand declines this year, compared with growth of 2.3 million barrels/day in 2023, pricing has risen sharply in recent weeks, up by $8/barrel from early March to more than $90/barrel this week, on heightened geopolitical tensions and the prospect of a tighter supply-demand balance this year. “Russian refinery outages added to product market unease, while OPEC+ put pressure on some countries to increase compliance with agreed voluntary production cuts through Q2 2024,” the IEA said in its latest monthly oil market report. “Escalating oil supply security concerns are set against a backdrop of solid global oil demand growth of 1.6 million barrels/day in the first quarter and a more upbeat outlook for the global economy,” the agency added. In its latest oil forecast released this week, OPEC left GDP and crude demand growth expectations unchanged at 2.8% and 2.2 million barrels/day respectively. Thumbnail photo: An oil pump jack at the Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas play, Argentina. Source: Matias Baglietto/NurPhoto/Shutterstock 

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ICIS Innovation Awards 2024 now open for entries
BARCELONA (ICIS)–Entries are now open for the 2024 ICIS Innovation Awards, a celebration of chemical industry achievements around the world. Even in today’s challenging environment, the companies that will emerge as tomorrow’s winners are today investing in innovation to keep their pipeline of new products alive and thriving. Each year we receive entries from around the world from teams that want to have their successes celebrated and recognized across the industry. This year ICIS will recognize the winning entries with a lunch at London’s Savoy Hotel on 15 October. The drive towards net zero carbon is so important that almost all the entries help in some way to drive the industry in the right direction. Make sure your entry is concise, detailed and complete It should have the “Wow” factor Stage of commercialization is important: judges admire innovations with “steel in the ground” Impact on society and the chemical industry: the broader the potential impact the better Evidence of partnerships along supply chains: these are important in the drive to net zero To get the top award you need to offer something that is really different and truly innovative There are several categories to choose from that should allow companies of all sizes to have a fair chance to win. Best Product Innovation from an SME Best Product Innovation from a Large Company Best Process Innovation from an SME Best Process Innovation from a Large Company Best Digital Innovation from an SME and Large Company To enter the awards click here to register on the ICIS Innovation Awards portal.
India’s Mundra Petrochemical taps Nuberg to build chlor-alkali plant
MUMBAI (ICIS)–Indian producer Mundra Petrochemicals Ltd has awarded engineering services company Nuberg EPC a contract to build its new 2,200 tonne/day chlor-alkali project in the western Gujarat state. “The project entails construction of the caustic soda plant within the 1m tonnes/year green polyvinyl chloride (PVC) project in Mundra, Gujarat,” Nuberg said in a statement on 11 April. Nuberg expects to complete the project within 15 months, without disclosing financial details of the contract. Nuberg EPC is a global engineering and turnkey project management company based in Noida in the northern Uttar Pradesh state. Mundra Petrochemical is a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises Ltd, which is owned by major Indian conglomerate Adani Group. The caustic soda project forms part of the Adani Group’s 2m tonne/year greenfield PVC project in Mundra. In March 2023, the company halted construction of the PVC project as it worked to secure project funding. A consortium of banks led by state-owned State Bank of India had agreed in July last year to finance a significant part of the company’s PVC project, according to media reports. The project involves setting up a 2m tonnes/year PVC plant in two phases with the first phase expected to be commissioned in the fiscal year ending March 2026.
USDA calling for smaller ending corn stocks in April WASDE
HOUSTON (ICIS)–The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is calling for smaller ending corn stocks, while for soybeans it is forecasting higher ending supply, according to the April World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. For the corn outlook the monthly update is projecting not only the lower amount of ending stocks but also greater usage of the crop for ethanol and feed and residual use. Corn used for ethanol is being raised by 25 million bushels to stand at 5.4 billion bushels based on data through February from the Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report and weekly ethanol production data as reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Feed and residual use is also being increased by 25 million bushels to 5.7 billion bushels based on indicated disappearance during the December-February quarter. With no supply changes and use rising, the WASDE said ending stocks are now projected lowered by 50 million bushels to 2.1 billion bushels. The USDA said season-average farm price received by producers is now down by 5 cents to $4.70 per bushel. For soybeans, the outlook for supply and use not only expects higher ending stocks but also lower imports, residual use and exports. The monthly update said the soybean trade is being reduced on the pace seen to date and expectations for future shipments. With the trade changes and slightly lower residual, soybean ending stocks are raised by 25 million bushels to 340 million bushels. The agency said the season-average soybean price is now forecasted lower by 10 cents to $12.55 per bushel. The next WASDE report will be released on 10 May.
VIDEO: European gas market highlights week 15
Additional reporting by Ed Martin LONDON (ICIS)–Deputy European gas editor Ed Martin and deputy Gas in Focus editor Marta Del Buono discuss European gas highlights from week 15 Snowpack surplus may curb Italian power and gas prices Italy increases TAG gas imports in March amid low Austrian VTP prices Wider TTF-NBP May ’24 spread needed for reverse BBL flows
ExxonMobil to sell Fos–sur-Mer refinery in France
LONDON (ICIS)–ExxonMobil’s French affiliate, Esso SAF, plans to sell its Fos-Sur-Mer refinery near Marseille, France, along with fuel terminals in Toulouse and Villette, by the end of the year, officials announced on Thursday. The buyer is Rhone Energies, which is a consortium between oil and commodities trader Trafigura and Entara. About 310 Esso employees are expected to transfer to Rhone Energies. The sale is subject to regulatory and other approvals. Financial details were not disclosed. The sale of the refinery, which has a crude oil processing capacity of 7 million tonnes/year, is part of Esso’s long-term strategy in France to maintain the competitiveness of its operations while guaranteeing continuity of supply to its customers in the south of France, it said. Esso will continue to supply the fuel market in southern France and the proposed sale will not impact its other activities in France, it added. Entara, which was established by former executives of Crossbridge Energy, will operate the Fos-sur-Mer refinery. Trafigura plans to enter into a minimum 10-year exclusive crude oil supply and product offtake agreement, ensuring that the refinery has a secure supply of on-demand feedstock at competitive costs and a reliable off-taker of refined products destined to the domestic market, it said. The refinery will continue to be an important contributor to energy security in the region and would benefit from Trafigura’s global trading and logistics network, said Ben Luckock, Global Head of Oil for Trafigura. Oil and petroleum products will continue to play an important role in supporting growing global energy demand during the transition currently underway to a low-carbon economy, Luckock added. Rhone Energies intends to invest in the sustainability of the site to reduce its carbon footprint while also investing in growth projects enabling further co-processing of biogenic feedstocks to produce renewable fuels. In related news, ExxonMobil Chemical France announced earlier on Thursday that it plans to close its chemical production at Gravenchon in Normandy in 2024, subject to relevant government approvals. That closure is entirely separate from the proposed sale of the refinery, officials said. Additional reporting by Nel Weddle Thumbnail photo: A worker walking past ExxonMobil’s Fos-sur-mer complex. Source: Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA/Shutterstock
ExxonMobil to close Gravenchon, France cracker and related derivative units in 2024
LONDON (ICIS)—ExxonMobil Chemical France has announced plans to close its chemical production at Gravenchon, in Normandy in France in 2024, subject to the relevant government approvals. According to a press release, the steamcracker and related derivatives units and logistics facilities will be shut down. The company said the site has lost more than €500 million since 2018 and despite efforts to improve the site’s economics, it remains uncompetitive. According to the ICIS Supply & Demand database, the cracker has the capacity to produce 425,000 tonnes/year of ethylene and 290,000 tonnes/year of propylene and was started up in 1967. A butadiene (BD) unit is also at the site and associated derivatives include polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP). ExxonMobil’s nearby Port Jerome refinery will continue to operate supplying fuels, lubricants, basestocks and asphalt. The closure will impact 677 jobs through 2025. ExxonMobil said this planned closure is entirely separate from the Esso S.A.F. announcement regarding its proposed sale of the Esso Fos-sur-Mer refinery and South France logistics assets. Charles Amyot, president of ExxonMobil companies in France said: “It has been a very difficult decision for us to take, but we cannot continue to operate at such a loss.” This week Saudi Arabia’s Sabic also revealed plans to permanently close its Olefins 3 cracker – one of two at their Geleen, Netherlands site.
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