As competition for LNG grows between buyers in Asia and Europe, timely and transparent insights on global prices are increasingly essential. Facing a complex global market, International market players forward-looking intelligence to adjust to the realities of the newly interconnected global gas industry.
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The ICIS TTF Early Day enables Asian market participants to trade with the same assurance and on the same terms as their European peers. ICIS transparent prices, now accessible at the end of the day in Asia will support market development, fostering liquidity and hedging opportunities for those operating in the LNG marketplace.
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New Price Assessment: ICIS TTF Early Day
As competition for LNG grows between buyers in Asia and Europe, timely and transparent insights on global prices are increasingly essential. Facing a complex global market, Asian companies need forward-looking intelligence to adjust to the realities of the newly interconnected international gas industry.
Now, ICIS is adding a new price assessment to make the ICIS TTF gas benchmark more reflective of Asian market trading. ICIS transparent prices, now accessible at the end of the day in Asia will support market development, fostering liquidity and hedging opportunities for those operating in the LNG marketplace.
The ICIS TTF Early Day enables Asian market participants to trade with the same assurance and on the same terms as their European peers.
Adapt to the new market realities with confidence and purpose using the ICIS TTF Early Day.
Speak to an ICIS expert to learn more.
US auto union to expand strike to additional Ford, GM assembly plants
HOUSTON (ICIS)–The United Auto Workers (UAW) union will expand its strike to two Ford and GM assembly plants at 16:00 GMT (noon EST) as negotiations with the Big Three automakers continue. About 7,000 workers at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant and GM’s Lansing Delta Township will begin to strike today, UAW President Shawn Fain said during a live stream. Fain said the union is taking no additional action against Stellantis as that company has made significant progress in a cost-of-living allowance, the right not to cross a picket line as well as the right to strike over product commitments, plant closures, and outsourcing moratoriums. “Sadly, despite our willingness to bargain, Ford and GM have refused to make meaningful progress at the table,” Fain said. “To be clear, negotiations have not broken down,” Fain said. “We are still talking with all three companies. And I am still very hopeful that we can reach a deal that reflects the incredible sacrifices and contributions our members have made over the last decade.” The UAW strike began on 15 September at three plants: a General Motors (GM) assembly plant at Wentzville, Missouri; a Stellantis assembly complex at Toledo, Ohio; and a Ford assembly plant at Wayne, Michigan. The three plants comprise about 12% of North American production for the Big Three. The union expanded its strike on 22 September to 38 Stellantis and GM parts distribution centres. At that time, Fain said no additional actions were taken against Ford because that automaker had made concessions to the union and progress during negotiations that week. The union represents about 146,000 auto workers employed by the Big Three. The three plants reportedly employ about 13,000 workers in total. Based on estimates from Anderson Economic Group that economic losses over the first week of the strike exceeded $1bn including the $250m in lost wages for striking and laid-off workers, those totals have likely doubled as the second week of striking ended. The petrochemical industry is closely monitoring the situation because an extended strike would massively disrupt demand for polymers as a typical vehicle contains nearly $3,950 of chemistry including chemical products and chemical processing. The UAW strike could slash monthly polymers demand from the Big Three by 26,000 tonnes for polypropylene (PP), 11,000 tonnes each for polyurethanes (PU) and nylon, and 5,000 tonnes each for acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), based on H1 2023 volumes, according to an analysis of industry data obtained by ICIS. For the US economy as a whole, a prolonged strike and its ripple effects would be a major blow, according to Swift. Swift estimates that the impact could be about $2.5bn/day. Virtually every component of a light vehicle, from the front bumper to the rear taillights, features some chemistry. The latest data indicate that polymer use is about 437lb (198kg) per vehicle, he said. Additional reporting by Al Greenwood, Joseph Chang and Stefan Baumgarten Please also visit the ICIS automotive topic page Thumbnail image shows automobile assembly line production. Photo by Shutterstock
MARKET COMMENT: Northwest Europe ammonia-to-hydrogen production costs jump on bullish ammonia
LONDON (ICIS)–The ICIS Northwest Europe ammonia-to-hydrogen assessment rose by more than 10% on a weekly basis heading towards October, with the price boosted by a bullish ammonia market at the end of September. The ammonia-to-hydrogen assessment increased by €0.60/kg week on week to be assessed at €5.65/kg on 28 September, the highest valuation for the contract since early March, ICIS data showed. The ammonia-to-hydrogen assessment reflects the cost of importing fossil-based ammonia to northwest Europe and then decomposing that ammonia into hydrogen. The ammonia price referenced is the ICIS CFR Northwest Europe Duty Unpaid assessment, published every working Thursday. Low carbon hydrogen produced via steam methane reforming (SMR) with carbon capture and storage (CCS) attached using month-ahead Dutch gas was nonetheless largely flat on the week, climbing a mere €0.04/kg to €3.50/kg. Baseload electrolysis using Dutch front-month power prices posted a €0.06/kg fall in value on a weekly basis. AMMONIA MARKET Direction from the ammonia market came from news of the Tampa October contract climbing by more than expected, up $185/tonne from September due to tight global availability. Spot ammonia prices edged up in other global regions as a result, with deals from Saudi Arabia and Algeria seeing price rises in addition to demand in Asia showing signs of picking up in pace. In Europe, European producers are beginning to restart production of ammonia with natural gas prices having been much less volatile recently than over the past few months. GAS MARKET The price of the ICIS Dutch TTF October '23 contract rose during the first half of the week amid concerns over LNG supply from Australia. However, the risk premium built up was wiped out as the contract headed towards expiry. Temperatures are forecast in line with seasonal average into early October for the vast majority of Europe, set to limit heating demand as the gas winter begins. With the warm temperature forecast, storage withdrawals will likely not be needed in the short-term, with data from ICIS showing that European gas stocks were 95% full on 28 September, already close to the level seen in mid-November last year when the withdrawal season began.
Brazil’s industry on ‘moderate reacceleration’ as 2023 growth prospects near 3%
SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Brazil’s economy started 2023 on the backfoot and GDP growth expectations at barely 1%, but nine months later most economists and analysts now expect growth to be around three times higher. Even the beleaguered industrial sectors, which were lagging agriculture and services, are posting a “moderate reacceleration”, the Banco Central do Brasil (BCB) has said, according to the minutes of its last monetary policy committee (Copom) meeting. The optimistic players within the chemicals industry, a sector hardly hit by the wider manufacturing malaise in the first half of 2023, might even be able to see some green shoots: chemicals producer prices rose 1% in August, the first increase after 18 months of consecutive falls. THE MAGNITUDE OF THE SURPRISE Upgrades to GDP forecasts by Brazilian institutions come after those issued by international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or private financial institutions such US credit rating agencies Fitch and S&P. For much of 2023, the BCB’s tone tilted towards pessimism, and until August it kept interest rates at 13.75%, despite inflation falling for much of the year. Both the newly sworn in Brazilian government and manufacturing companies blamed high interest rates for part of the manufacturing malaise, as it kept consumers away from big-ticket purchases. The central bank’s assessments of the economy tended to put more weight on the downside factors. With the economy about to enter Q4 on a strong footing, the BCB’s tone changed this month, saying Copom members had “held a wide-ranging debate” on the reasons for the “magnitude of the surprise” regarding stronger growth in 2023. The debate occurred on 19-20 September, when the Copom decided to lower rates for the second time in three months by another half percentage point, with the Selic benchmark now at 12.75%. The minutes of that meeting were published this week. The bumper harvest this year greatly contributed to healthy growth in the first quarter and, somehow, put the wheels on other sectors, which started reviving from the second quarter onward. Brazil's fertilizers- and export-intensive agricultural sector accounts for around 25% of the country's output. “Although corroborated by data, it [strong agriculture season] does not justify the entire magnitude of the surprise. Another possibility is that the expansion of disposable income, as the result of the labour market dynamics, decline of food prices, or income transfer programs, has also provided some support to consumption,” the committee said. “Copom focused on this issue, deemed of high relevance, and stressed that the assumption of a growth sustained by the increase of income is corroborated by the resilience in the consumption of services rendered to households.” The committee added indicators were suggesting a “scenario of stronger resilience” of the economy. “Generally speaking, in the sectoral indicators, there is some deceleration in the trade sector, moderate reacceleration in industry, and stability in the services sector growth, after a stronger growth pace in previous quarters,” the Copom added. The bank also said Copom had discussed whether some reforms passed by congress – where the government, which does not command a majority, must permanently agree measures with other parties – had contributed to healthier growth. Certain mistrust about the left-leaning cabinet under Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, which took office in January, must have also been the reason for the more than 100 economists surveyed weekly by the BCB to lag in their growth expectations. They, too, were expecting worse growth figures and higher inflation for much of 2023 than the actual figures came to show. Now, they are forecasting GDP to grow by 2.92% in 2023, according to this week’s survey, the so-called Relatorio de Mercado. Only a month ago, the survey showed average growth expectations at 2.31%. For 2024, economists expect growth at 1.50%; other forecasts, however, stand at around 2.0%. A MORE DIFFICULT COUNTRY TO GOVERNWhile the BCB praised the government’s ability to reach out in parliament to pass reforms – a move which no doubt has dispelled fears among bussineses of a hard-left administration under the so-called ‘Lula 3’ term – other observers see in that a sign of the polarised and unstable political times we are living in. Mansueto Almeida, chief economist at Brazil’s investment bank BTG Pactual, said this week that the Brazilian multiparty system, which has made Congress a true counterpower to the executive, has also meant some reforms are harder to pass. The country has for much of 2023 been talking about a tax reform which would simplify the multiple taxes consumers and companies must pay. There has been some progress on the negotiations, but success is not guaranteed. “We have been 40 years talking about a tax reform. Equally, we spent 20 years debating the pensions reform, which ultimately was passed. The tax reform is important for the economy and the lack of clarity does not help,” Almeida said. “This takes me to a wider reflection about strong governments just 20 years ago and today. In his first election victory, Lula won in 26 of Brazil’s 27 states. Last year, he won in 13 out of 27. We have a more divided and independent Congress, which can be good as counterweight to the cabinet but also means reforms, especially economic reforms, are harder to achieve.” To add to the GDP growth upgrades race, Almeida said BTG Pactual is forecasting a rise in output of 3% in 2023, and of 2% for 2024. “Consumers and companies are gaining confidence and should enter into 2024 with a much more positive sentiment,” he concluded. Almeida was speaking at an event about the Brazilian economy organised by credit rating agnecy Fitch in Sao Paulo this week. Focus article by Jonathan Lopez
TOPIC PAGE: War in Ukraine, gas crisis
Updated at 11:00 GMT on 29 September 2023. Please scroll down to see headlines. The war in Ukraine has caused oil and especially gas price volatility, as restricted flows from Russia to Ukraine caused values to spike to record-breaking levels before collapsing to pre-war levels. Since December 2022, unseasonably mild winter weather hit demand, reversing gas prices. However millions of tonnes of chemical and fertilizer production remain offline across Europe thanks to the elevated gas prices and poor macro-economic conditions which have impacted demand. Europe’s energy challenge is immense and put into stark relief by the response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Cutting the ties that bind EU and non-EU nations to Russian gas and oil will be extremely painful this year and in years to come. 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 SUMMARY Gas storage remains robust in Europe, winter demand fell thanks to mild weather Poor downstream demand still affecting industrial production, gas demand Record shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe so far in 2022/23 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 AMMONIA SUMMARY Russia supplies 20% of global seaborne ammonia market Disrupted supply has pushed up fertilizer and food prices OIL SUMMARY 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 will only be insured if subject to price cap CHEMICALS SUMMARY 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 and potentially leading to social unrest. How vulnerable are energy and energy-related Russian supplies to disruptions? 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. 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. AMMONIA IMPACT 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. CHEMICALS IMPACT Gas and electricity are important components in the production costs of many chemicals. Surging gas and feedstock prices in Europe have caused big hikes in contract and spot prices. 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 place? 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 6 March, storage facilities across Europe were 54% full compared with just 20% last March. Some 30bn cubic meters of new capacity were added between September 2022 and March 2023. 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. DEMAND REDUCTION 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. FERTILIZERS 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. PETROCHEMICALS 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. Kalush cracker closed 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). Black Sea export hub closed 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. Russia 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. LATEST HEADLINES UK power winter supply margins adequate – system operator 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. EPCA ’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. High 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. EPCA '23 INSIGHT: Europe petrochemicals face another tough year 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 12.6% 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. Oil prices hit highest since Nov ‘22 on China recovery hopesBy 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 By Al Greenwood14-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 economy 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 factors 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 years: economist 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 remain 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 change 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 conditions 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 pressure 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. CDI Economic Summary: US mild recession expected in H1 2024 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 upside 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 tighten 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 slowdown 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 everywhereBy 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 prices 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 prices 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. Saudi Aramco Q2 net profit falls 37.9% on lower oil prices, poor chemical margins 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. Singapore manufacturing shows signs of recovery; external headwinds persistBy 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 demandBy 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 ‘23By 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 backBy 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. INSIGHT: Commercial start-up of Vietnam petrochemical complex delayed amid weak global demand 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. China 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 expectations remain 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 expectations bearish 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 formula 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 fears 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 August 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, MP 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 exports 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 improve 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 starts 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 deflation 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 plasticizers market 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 direct market 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, overcapacity bite 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. South Korea removes tariffs on naphtha, crude imports until yearend 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 challenges 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. Weak 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. Eurozone manufacturing slips to mid-2020 levels as demand slows, rate hikes bite 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 demand 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 real 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 Q1 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 July 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. INSIGHT: Embedding 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. Asia polyolefins overcapacity to worsen amid eurozone recession 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 regions 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. Ample UK gas supply to boost exports over winter 2023 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. INSIGHT: Asia 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 review 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”. JUNE CRUDE OUTLOOK: Bearish demand narrative confronted by tightening global oil supplies 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 markets 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 regions 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. Saudi 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). Czech 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. ICIS 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. Fears of gloomy summer for Europe PE, PP 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. Dow cuts Q2 sales guidance on challenging macros 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 reconstruction efforts, specialist 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. NE 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. High stocks could curb Italian Q4 ‘23 gas and power risk 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. China manufacturing weakness weighs on crude; outlook dims further 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. INSIGHT: Petrochemical prices and margins under relentless pressure 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 outlook 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. Depressed US manufacturing activity weighing on PP demand 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 languishing industry 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 2024/5 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. APIC '23: INSIGHT: Asia petrochemicals navigate poor demand amid China start-ups; carve 'green' path 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. INSIGHT: Europe 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. APIC ’23: Asia PE, PP margins to stay in unhealthy range despite China reopening 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. APIC ’23: Japan petrochemical plants run at 80% on current demand 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 margins 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 pressure 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 – IEA 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 drag 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 polyol margins 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. INSIGHT: Plastics, petchems in Europe still waiting for construction season, Q2 may be reality check 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 materialize 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 chain chemicals 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. UK summer demand to drop, exports to France in Q3 likely 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 economy 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. IMF keeps developing Asia 2023 growth forecast at 5.3%; trims India projections 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 relief 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. US auto sector faces economic headwinds on rising interest rates, higher prices 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 choppy 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. Oil 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 targets 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 contracts 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 'revolutionise' energy sector 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. Asia petrochemicals demand tepid on macroeconomy, oversupply concerns 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. European acrylates subdued with underwhelming demand By Mathew Jolin-Beech 24-Mar-23 01:26 LONDON (ICIS)–The European acrylates markets are all currently subdued with demand described as “soft." CDI 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. Asia PMDI import markets bearish on poor downstream demand 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 volatility 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 chemicals 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. PODCAST: Plunging shipping rates point to normalising global logistics, Europe under pressure 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. US R-PET buying sentiment weakens in wake of banking crisis 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 polyolefin recovery 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. Asia 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. China PP prices fall to nearly three-year low amid increasing supply, lower-than-expected demand 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. Asia naphtha swings to multi-month lows on volatile crude 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 derivatives markets 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. INSIGHT: Constrained 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 purchase 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 regions 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 2023 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. Crude dips to lowest since December 2021 on banking sector turmoil 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. Asia 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 answer 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. Asia 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. INSIGHT: Banking contagion threatens to spread, hit chemicals demand hard 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. Asia naphtha tumbles on tepid demand; crude oil losses 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.
Vietnam posts 5.3% Q3 GDP growth; Sept exports inch up 1.4%
SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Vietnam's economy grew by 5.33% year on year in the third quarter, aided in part by improved exports in September, preliminary official data showed on Friday. The reading was higher than the annualized 4.05% expansion in the previous quarter but represented a sharp deceleration from the 13.7% pace recorded in the same period last year, the General Statistics Office (GSO) said in a statement. For the month of September, Vietnam's merchandise exports rose by 1.4% year on year, reversing the 6.7% decline in August. For the first nine months of 2023, Vietnam's average GDP growth stood at 4.24%. The Vietnamese government expects this year’s economic growth to be 6.5%, down from 8% in 2022. The growth last year was the fastest recorded since 1997.
US ADM and Syngenta sign MoU to collaborate on low carbon oilseeds to meet biofuel demand
HOUSTON (ICIS)–US Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Syngenta Group announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate in scaling research and commercialization of low carbon oilseeds to help meet rising demand for biofuels and other sustainably sourced products. The agribusiness titan said the MoU envisions a situation by which ADM and Syngenta would leverage their existing capabilities to accelerate the research, processing and commercialization of new low carbon-intensity oilseeds, such as camelina, that are typically grown in the fallow period of a crop rotation. The companies noted that they bring broad capabilities to this effort with Syngenta have research and development strengths, which offer biotechnology support, seed treatments and biologicals that further reduce the carbon intensity of crops. It also has agronomic knowledge from a network of local, field experts combined with excellent farmer relationships. For its part ADM has a global scale and logistical expertise including unparalleled production and storage capabilities along with relationships with growers and customers spanning food, feed, fuel, industrial and consumer products. ADM and Syngenta said they envision fostering partnerships with additional companies to support the creation, commercialization and processing of these next generation oilseeds. “This exciting MoU with Syngenta demonstrates how we are working with partners to bring the full value chain together to support new seed technologies,” Greg Morris, ADM Agricultural Services and Oilseeds business president said. “It builds on our unique capabilities by creating a path to scale the processing of cover crops, a process we’ve already successfully piloted. We look forward to working with Syngenta to advance this work and continue to meet demand for sustainably sourced fuels and other products.” The companies said global demand for biofuels is expected to grow by 35bn liters per year over the 2022-2027 period, which represents an increase of 22%. “Syngenta is excited to join forces with ADM to bring more sustainable and profitable solutions to farmers,” Justin Wolfe, Syngenta Global Seeds president said. “Sustainability is a core enabler of our business strategy. We believe collaborations, such as this one, are important ways to drive quicker innovation that delivers higher yield potential while carrying a lower impact to our environment.” The companies expect to sign definitive agreements by the end of the year and said that they are already advancing important work together around growing and processing varieties.
Corpus Christi PET plant marks fourth US chem project hit by costs
HOUSTON (ICIS)–An integrated polyester plant being built by Alpek, Indorama and Far Eastern New Century (FENC) is the fourth chemical project to be hit by cost overruns. The three companies are partners in the Corpus Christi Polymers (CCP), which is building a project in Corpus Christi, Texas, that will produce purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Earlier this week, the three joint venture partners decided to temporarily halt the project because of inflation as well as high construction and labour costs. The joint venture did not disclose the magnitude of the costs. CORPUS CHRISTI JOINS GROWING LIST OF COST OVERRUNSThe project in Corpus Christi is the fourth chemical project that reported significant cost overruns this year. The following lists the other three. The capital budget for the second commercial-scale plant of Origin Materials rose to $1.60bn from $1.07bn. Origin also is splitting the project into two phases, delaying the startup and reducing the scale of the plant. The project will produce renewable oils that can be processed into biofuels and feedstock that can be converted into a component used to make polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or polyethylene furanoate (PEF) Phillips 66 expects to spend $1.25bn to convert its San Francisco refinery in Rodeo, California, to produce renewable fuels, up 47% from an earlier estimate of $850m made in May 2022 The costs for an ultrapure sulphuric acid plant being built in Casa Grande, Arizona, have increased to $300m-380m, up 50%. The project, currently on hold, is being developed by Chemtrade Logistics and joint-venture partner Kanto Group REASONS FOR OVERRUNSCosts are rising in part because of a severe shortage of qualified skilled workers, which has contributed to higher salaries. Construction pay is rising at its fastest rate in two decades, said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), a trade group that represents companies that build infrastructure, industrial plants and other nonresidential construction projects. He made his comments in an interview with ICIS, which had earlier reported on the cost overruns hitting chemical projects. For construction materials, some shortages persist, such as for transformers, switch gears and other electrical equipment, Simonson said. Diesel prices have recently risen by their largest amount since 1990, contributing to construction costs. Recent tariffs that the US imposed on steel and other materials have set a floor on prices, Simonson said. As inflation cools, those tariffs will keep prices for those materials at an elevated level. SURGE IN MANUFACTURING CONSTRUCTIONAn incredible surge in US manufacturing projects has increased demand for construction labour and materials. The following chart shows the increase in construction spending for manufacturing projects. Figures are in millions of dollars. Source: US Census Bureau In July 2023, the most recent month for which data are available, spending in manufacturing spending rose by 71% year on year. Simonson listed some of the reasons behind the surge in spending. Semiconductor fabrication plants (fabs), other electronics projects Petrochemical plants and liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants Electric vehicles (EVs) and associated battery plants Projects intended to shorten and simplify supply chains by bringing manufacturing closer to customers Renewable energy and carbon-capture projects To qualify for many government incentives, projects need to contain a certain amount of materials made in the US. Consequently, companies are building more plants to produce those materials in the US
Brazil’s chemicals producer prices rise 1% in August ending year-and-a-half downturn
SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Brazil’s chemicals producer prices rose by 1.02% in August, month on month, ending an 18-month long downturn, the country’s statistical office IBGE said on Thursday. Year on year, however, chemicals producer prices were 30.75% lower than in August 2022. Plastic and rubber producer prices fell by 0.56% in August, and by 7.04% compared with August 2022. Brazil’s overall industrial producer prices rose by 0.92% in August, after six months of falls. Year on year, they stood 10.51% lower than in August 2022. Much of the increase, according to IBGE analysts, could be attributed to the depreciation of the real during August, making imports into Brazil more expensive for industrial players. As of Thursday, the Brazilian real (R) was trading at $1:R5.06. In July and preceding months, the real had been strengthening and went as high as $1:R4.72. “This greater spread of positive variations [in producer prices] is in line with the 2.1% depreciation of the real against the dollar, which has not occurred since March, and which raises the prices of both what we import and what we export,” said Alexandre Brandao, IBGE’s head for the Industirial Producer Prices (PPI in its Portuguese acronym) index. To compile the PPI, IBGE tracks the average change in sales prices received by domestic producers of goods and services at the factory gate. It surveys around 2,100 companies about their prices, excluding costs for taxes, tariffs, and freight.
Argentina’s output falls in July, cabinet launches favourable dollar rate for oil, gas exporters
SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Argentina’s economic output fell by 1.3% in July, year on year, but posted an increase of 2.4% compared with June, the country’s statistics office Indec said this week. Agriculture, still reeling from a historic drought which hit Argentina’s grain exports hard, and manufacturing posted falls in output in July, year on year, of 14.0% and 3.7%, respectively. Month on month, however, economic activity rose by 2.4%. July’s economic indicators come after Indec confirmed earlier this month the economy contracted by 4.9% in the second quarter, year on year. CRUDE DOLLARWhile Argentina’s economic woes continue rising the Argentinian government launched this week the ‘Vaca Muerta dollar’ to let the country’s key oil sector enjoy more favourable peso exchange rates for the next two months. Vaca Muerta is Argentina’s vast oil and gas field in Patagonia. With the measure, the state would also increase its revenue by around $1.2bn, said Massa, as the country is in dire need of dollar reserves. The experiment would follow the example of the ‘soy dollar’, which also allowed agricultural exporters to have more favourable exchange rates. With inflation running at nearly 125%, Argentina has tight control of the official exchange rates, but it can also favour certain economic sectors. For the next two months, oil and gas exporters will be able to exchange 25% of the value of their exports using the cryptocurrency CYCLEAN (CCL) exchange rate to convert their dollars into pesos. The CCL rate offers the oil sector about 763 pesos per dollar, or more than double the value of the official rate, which stands at around 350 pesos per greenback. "We made the decision to recognise 25% of what [energy companies] export and bring to Argentina to invest using the CCL value so that they increase investment levels over the next 60 days in the oil and gas sector," said Argentina’s economy minister, Sergio Massa. Massa is also the candidate of the governing party for the general election on 22 October, but open primaries held in August showed his chances to renew mandate are slim, with opposition candidates performing strongly. The new government-mandated favourable dollar rate adds up to a long and maddening list of informal dollar rates currently circulating in Argentina; financial daily Ambito Financiero keeps daily track of them here.
EPCA ’23: Chems industry needs greater transparency to attract new talent
VIENNA (ICIS)–The chemicals sector needs to be willing to be more transparent despite the risk of attracting criticism if the sector wants to attract the next generation of talent, an academic said on Thursday. Greater openness and willingness to engage in the public conversation around issues such as sustainability, waste, and the green transition is necessary to alter the perception of the sector among new graduates considering career opportunities, according to Andy Mount, dean of research and strategic partnerships at the University of Edinburgh’s school of chemistry. “[If an] area is rife with controversy, the tendency can then be to take a step back,” he said, speaking on the closing day of the 57th annual European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting, taking place in Vienna, Austria. A willingness to engage more in difficult conversations about perceived environmental impacts of petrochemical products is undercutting the impact of messages about gains in sustainable materials, electric vehicles and green fuels, he said. The fact that the chemicals sector has also attracted controversy around microplastics, waste pollution, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can make players reticent to speak out too said Uta Schulz, head of human capability future at BASF. “There is a lot of communication happening, the question is whether it is reaching the relevant [spaces], said said Uta Schulz, head of human capability future at BASF. "Are we shying away because we know we are part of the problem? Because if we say things loud then [it could result in criticism],” she added. “We’re very hesitant to tell the world what we’re working on,” added Janne van Gisbergen, a static equipment engineer at ExxonMobil, also speaking at the panel. The EPCA conference runs between 25-28 September.
INSIGHT: Polyurethanes see new demand from EVs, eye sustainability
SAN ANTONIO (ICIS)–Electric vehicles (EVs) are creating demand for new applications for polyurethanes that go beyond acoustics, and they represent one of the ways the industry is responding to increased interest for more sustainable products. Sustainability was one of the main themes of the Polyurethanes Technical Conference, the marquee event of the North American industry Exhibitors at the conference noted an increased interest in renewable content The finalists for the Polyurethanes Innovation Award all featured sustainability EVsEVs have requirements that are distinct from automobiles powered by internal combustion engines, and those requirements are opening up new applications for polyurethanes. One example is the cover for the EV's battery, said Pavneet Mumick, global vice president of technology and innovation, Huntsman Polyurethanes. He made his comments on the sidelines of the Polyurethanes Technical Conference, hosted by the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI). Another is battery cell potting, also known as battery cell encapsulation, he said. Each battery in an electric vehicle is made up of hundreds of cells, according to Huntsman. In potting, the battery enclosure is filled with polyurethane foam to protect the cells from vibration and shock. The foam also forms a seal, which protects the cells from moisture, corrosive agents and solvents. Acoustic foam is another growing application for polyurethanes in EVs. Electric vehicles generate different sound frequencies because they lack internal combustion engines, said Jan Buberl, Huntsman vice president polyurethanes Americas and global propylene oxide (PO)/methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). Dampening different frequencies require different foams, he said. SUSTAINABILE STRATEGIESThe use of polyurethanes in EVs reflects a larger trend of customers' increasing interest in sustainability. In some cases, that interest lies in end markets such as EVs or energy efficient buildings and appliances. In other cases, it is reducing the carbon footprints of their products by using materials made from renewable or recycled feedstock. To respond to these trends, polyurethane companies need to work with their customers as well as their suppliers, who can supply them with renewable and recycled raw materials. "The whole value chain has to work together," Mumick said. "It is becoming more front and centre." Companies are taking a three-pronged approach, said Bradford Beauchamp, CEO of Carpenter. The first involves the raw materials that polyurethane companies use to make their products, he said. The second prong is designing materials to make them easier to re-use. The third prong addresses the fate of products after they are used to make sure they are recovered. SUSTAINABILITY AT POLYURETHANES CONFERENCEThis increased interest in sustainability is being reflected in the Polyurethanes Technical Conference. The event has seen a surge in papers about sustainability, said Lee Salamone, senior director of the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry. Debbie Mielewski, a retired technical fellow of sustainability at Ford Motor, made an encore appearance as the conference's keynote speaker. Her debut, in 2019, was one of the first times that the conference's keynote speaker focused on sustainability. SUSTAINABILITY AND INNOVATION AWARDThe conference's Polyurethanes Innovation Award often highlights trends in the industry. In previous years, winners were connected to hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs). This year, the trend is sustainability. Sikaforce-840 L07, developed by Sika, addresses many of the challenges of electric vehicles, said Rifat Tabakovic, Sika research and development lab manager. The product is a two-component polyurethane adhesive that can bond composite or coated metal components. The winner of the award, Wanhua's WANNATE 131FC, is a binder based on polymeric methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI). It is used to make moulded wooden pallets. These pallets are made with wood waste, agriculture residues and other wastes, and they can be recycled to make new moulded pallets, said Timothy Chaffee, business director at Wanhua. The Wanhua binder does away with the need to use urea formaldehyde resins. EXHIBITORSIn the exhibition hall, a large number of booths showcased renewable products. Palmer, a US producer of derivatives based on cashew nutshell liquid (CNSL), has seen heightened urgency among companies trying to increase the renewable content of their products, said Mike Magee, sales manager – polyols. About three or four years ago, Palmer would typically talk to companies' sustainability officers, he said. Now they talk to their technical directors, who are searching for ways to lower their products' carbon footprint. That increased interest in renewable content does not allow producers to skimp on the performance of their renewable materials. "No one buys renewable products because they're renewable," Magee said. "They buy them because they work and because they're cost effective." The renewable content is included free of charge, he said. Acme-Hardesty, a distributor of palm-oil and castor-oil based derivatives, has seen more interest in renewable products from companies and from government. "There is no question about it. Everyone is thinking about sustainability and bio-based content," said Bryan Huston, vice president of polyurethane coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers (CASE) and distributor solutions for Acme-Hardesty. Automobile companies are interested in increasing renewable content for top coats, insulation and acoustical foam, he said. Other inquiries are coming from producers of furniture and mattresses. More federal agencies of the US government are trying to incorporate sustainability into their purchasing decisions, Huston said. Cardolite, which produces CNSL-based polyols and diols, has not noticed an increase in interest at its booth during this year's conference, said Yun Mi Kim, senior technical marketing director. But the conference has attracted more exhibitors featuring bio-based products. Cardolite did experience a surge in interest during the coronavirus pandemic, when companies could not obtain their usual raw materials because of supply disruptions. In years past, these companies were reluctant to use Cardolite's chemicals because it would require additional testing involved with adopting a product based on a different chemistry. Even though Cardolite's materials offered similar performance, that was not enough to win over those companies. That changed with the coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted supply chains and left those companies without access to their typical feedstock, she said. The companies ran the tests and adopted the material. Many of them continue to use Cardolite's products. Polyurethanes are made with isocyanates and polyols. The Polyurethanes Technical Conference ran from Monday through Wednesday. Thumbnail shows electric vehicles. Image by ADI WEDA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Insight article by Al Greenwood
EU economic confidence drops in September on gloomy consumer outlook despite industry gains
LONDON (ICIS)–Wilting consumer confidence weighed on economic sentiment in Europe in September, according to the latest data from the EU Commission on Thursday. The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) fell by 0.4 points in the EU to 92.8 points, and by 0.3 points to 93.3 points in the eurozone, as deteriorating expectations from consumers offset minor gains in industry confidence. September marked the second month in a row that consumer confidence deteriorated, dropping 1.6 points on the previous month as respondents assessed their household’s past and future financial situation as worse. Intentions to commit to major purchases also declined. While current levels of order books appeared worse, industry confidence rose 0.3 points on the previous month as production expectations improved for the second consecutive month. Stocks of finished goods were viewed more in line with normal levels. Export orders were assessed as broadly stable, and past production levels improved on the previous month, although this data was not included in the overall reading for industry confidence. A decline in the construction sector supported the general dwindling confidence in Europe, dropping 0.8 points on August’s level. Both levels in order books and employment expectations contributed to the pessimistic sentiment, with 28.6% of managers citing labour shortages after tracing marginal gains (up 0.3 points), keeping the reading at a high level. Poor demand also diminished confidence, rising 0.7 points to settle at 28.8% – the highest reading since July 2020. Although shortages of materials and equipment rose 0.7 points, the figure remained significantly lower than averages over the past two years, settling at 9.9%. In contrast, while financial constraints for the construction sector fell by 0.7 points, that remained above the long-term average at 9.9%. Retail registered a 0.4 point decline in confidence on the previous month on worse expectations of the past business situation, but were more optimistic about the expected business situation, while stocks remained stable. Confidence in the services sector remained relatively stable, dropping by 0.1 points as poor views of past demand were almost negated by more optimistic expectations. In contrast to the wider economic sentiment indicators, the employment expectations indicator (EEI) gained 0.6 points in the first lift since February, as gains are expected in the services sector. Selling price expectations tracked a further decrease but remained elevated in the services and trade sectors. For industry and construction, selling prices stayed at their long-term average levels, while consumer price expectations for the coming 12 months increased, and perceptions of the past year remained stable at high levels. The Economic Uncertainty Indicator (EUI) rose by 1.6 points to 21.1 points, spurred on by consumer doubts over their future financial situation and uncertainty in the services, industry and trade sectors. Uncertainty in the construction sector decreased. Front page image shows residential construction in Korb, Germany (image credit: Lilly/imageBROKER/Shutterstock)
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