Image Description

News and analysis

24-hour breaking news, market commentary and industry analysis from across the globe

Gain a clear view of your markets in real time

Capitalise on opportunity, with unbiased news coverage and expert analysis of the critical events shaping your markets. Inform your decision-making and plan with confidence, with analysis of the worldwide market dynamics impacting commodity markets and the broader industry, from our global team of over 200 pricing editors and a dedicated news team.

Stay one step ahead of your market, with mobile and email alerts for your chosen commodity and instant access to news and analysis via our customisable dashboard on ICIS Clarity™.

Chemicals news and analysis


Confidently plan ahead, with high-value proprietary content covering over 300 commodities markets including plastics, biofuels and solvents. Gain a complete picture at a glance, with 500 standalone chemicals news stories and pricing analysis each week.

React faster to shifting markets, with news coverage of spot transactions, contract settlements, market shifts, force majeures, production issues, outages, planned disruptions and more. Twice-daily snapshots of major commodity prices in each region, plus a weekly feedstocks summary and week-ahead calendar story help you keep ahead of fast-moving commodity markets.

Understand the wider global landscape with in-depth analytical commentary covering corporate activity, new projects, financial markets, regulation and legislation, plus the environmental, trade and economic issues driving chemical industry strategy.

Chemicals news and analysis is available to all subscribers. For access to ICIS Chemical Business, we offer a subscription to Global News + ICB.

Global News + ICIS Chemical Business

(ICB)


Keep abreast of dynamic markets with unlimited access to ICIS chemicals news across all markets and regions, plus ICIS Chemical Business (ICB), the leading magazine for the chemicals industry.

Capitalise on opportunities as they happen, with a dedicated 24-hour news channel and mobile or email alerts.

Gain a deeper understanding of the chemicals landscape with ICB, the weekly online magazine offering unique insights on chemical industry strategy, plus annual features including the ICIS Innovation Awards, CEO of the Year, Top 40 Power Players, Top 100 Chemical Companies, Top 100 Chemical Distributors and Top M&A.

Learn about the trends driving chemicals markets with coverage of major trade association events such as AFPM, EPCA, APLA and Fecc, and broaden your market knowledge with two chemicals product profiles per issue, featuring an overview of uses and prices plus supply and demand, plants, capacities and outlook.

Energy news and analysis


In the transition to a low-carbon economy, stay ahead of rapidly evolving energy markets with ICIS news and analysis on natural gas, power and renewables, crude oil, LNG and hydrogen.

Trade confidently, with daily market commentary on price movements and unbiased coverage including in-depth, data-driven analysis of the trends shaping energy markets. Inform your decision-making with outlooks and insight on geopolitical events, changing fundamentals, new policies and regulation.

Topics regularly covered by our dedicated team of market reporters include the evolution of gas and LNG in the supply mix, plus regular analysis of locational spreads and how the various energy commodities are influencing one another.

ICIS news and analysis are a standard part of the subscription to your chosen commodity, in addition to benchmark price assessments and indices.

Why subscribe to ICIS News and analysis?

React quickly to opportunity

Respond to events as they happen, with instant access to news and analysis covering market-moving events including outages and force majeures.

Optimise profitability

Remain competitive and preserve margins, with coverage of market-moving events and the longer-term trends driving pricing.

Inform decision making

Benefit from an expert market view and unbiased news and analysis from reporters embedded in global commodity markets.

Minimise risk

Limit exposure and plan confidently, with a clear view of market-moving events and insight into the factors driving longer-term trends.

ICIS News

PODCAST: Propane import growth to remain strong despite bottled LPG replacement

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China's propane import growth is expected to remain strong this year although local authorities have been encouraging food catering and residential end-users to switch from bottled liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to piped natural gas (PNG). In this podcast, ICIS LPG analysts Yan Wang, Lillian Ren, and natural gas editor Yueyi Yang discuss current market dynamics and outlook.

20-Jun-2024

Tropical Storm Alberto floods beaches amid storm surge, high tide, but plant ops unaffected so far

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, continues to push toward the Mexico coast and a combination of storm surge and high tides are already flooding some Texas coastal communities. But so far, ICIS has not heard of any instances of plants located along the US Gulf Coast ceasing operations. Alberto was about 295 miles (475 km) south southeast of Brownsville as of 18:00 GMT with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles/hour, as shown in the following image. Source: National Hurricane Center A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the Texas coast from San Luis Pass southward to the mouth of the Rio Grande River. Tropical storm warnings mean that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. The highest rainfall totals on Wednesday were just more than an inch south of Houston, with a total of 1.36 inches in La Porte, Texas, and 1.23 inches in Galveston. Storm chasers shared videos of inundated coastal communities on social media, including Surfside Beach, that were created by the storm surge ahead of Alberto and coinciding with high tides. Tides will be at the lowest this evening and at the highest early on Thursday morning, as shown in the following chart. Source: Tideschart.com Alberto is moving toward the west at 9 miles/hour. A westward motion with an increase in forward speed is expected through Thursday. The center of Alberto is forecast to reach the coast of northeastern Mexico early Thursday morning, as shown in the following map. Source: National Hurricane Center Some slight strengthening is forecast today or tonight before the center of Alberto reaches land. Rapid weakening is expected once the center moves inland, and Alberto is likely to dissipate over Mexico Thursday or Thursday night. Flash flood warnings are in effect for south and central Texas, as shown in the following map. Source: National Hurricane Center So far it does not appear that offshore oil and gas operations are being impacted. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) provides daily updates when storms lead to the evacuation of offshore production platforms. There was no update on Wednesday from BSEE. Production platforms are the offshore structures from which oil and natural gas are produced. Unlike drilling rigs, which can be moved, production facilities remain in the same location throughout a project’s duration. Another disturbance in the southwest Atlantic has a 20% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours, and only a 20% chance of formation in the next seven days. There is likely to be increased focus on US Gulf petchem production this summer as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting the greatest number of hurricanes in the agency’s history. NOAA forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center said that the hurricane season – which started on 1 June and runs through 30 November – has an 85% chance to be above normal, a 10% chance of being near normal and only a 5% chance of being below normal. The prediction of 17-25 named storms is the highest ever, topping the 14-23 predicted in 2010. A storm is named once it has sustained winds of 39 miles/hour. Damage from hurricanes can lead to increased demand for chemicals, but hurricanes and tropical storms can also disrupt the North American petrochemical industry because many of the nation's plants and refineries are along the US Gulf Coast in the states of Texas and Louisiana. In 2022, oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico accounted for about 15% of total US crude oil production and about 2% of total US dry natural gas production, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Even the threat of a major storm can disrupt oil and natural gas supplies because companies often evacuate US Gulf platforms as a precaution. Thumbnail image shows a map with Tropical Storm Alberto approaching the Mexico coast. Source: NHC

19-Jun-2024

Colombia plastic industry still skeptical on single-use plastic tax – trade group

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Despite Colombia’s Supreme Court ruling correcting some aspects of the tax on single-use plastics approved by Congress, the industry is still largely skeptical about the tax’s principle or about a smooth implementation, according to the president at plastics trade group Acoplasticos. Daniel Mitchell added that the regulations put a burden on companies’ finances and may, in the medium and long run, affect their ability to invest in new technologies and processes to make the circular economy a reality. Since President Gustavo Petro took office, Colombia has passed two significant regulations affecting the plastic chain: the tax on plastics, and the progressive elimination in the market of single-use plastics. The first law, the tax on plastics came into effect at the end of 2022 but legislators left some open questions as to who would pay the tax. So much so that Colombia’s Supreme Court ruled in November correcting some aspects of the law, although it did not question the principle of the tax. In August 2023, the head of chemicals at Colombia’s industrial trade group Andi, Daniela Sotello, had already said in an interview with ICIS that the tax’s implementation had proved troublesome and explained how, at the time, many players in the chain were still uncertain of who would pay the tax. SUPREME COURT RULINGIt is good there is more clarity now, not least because the first phase of the tax on single-use plastics is coming into force on 7 July, as planned in the original regulation’s text. A second phase in the mid-2022s will start implementing recycling targets and the regulation should be fully implemented by 2030. “Thankfully, there is more clarity now on who should pay the tax, with the Supreme Court ruling it must be absorbed by producers and not users of the plastics. However, this brings yet another confusion to the table: is it the producers of plastics, the polymers producers, or the producers of the products packed in those plastics?” said Mitchell. “We lived with the initial confusion [producers paying or users paying] for 11 months, until November 2023 ruling. The first payment of the tax was done at the end of the fiscal year in February 2024, as planned.” In the end, players managed to muddle through the confusion and managed to pay the tax, although Mitchell says it did cause a slight uptick in prices which, he concedes, is obviously the purpose of the tax so consumption is reduced. But then, some particularities in the Colombian law are striking. For instance, the prices of soft drinks in plastic bottles are not included in the tax: according to the law, Coca-Cola and others are included in the so-called "basic family basket". According to Acoplasticos, prices for the final products with plastics which were included in the regulation have increased between 0.5% and 4% due to the plastic tax. “In sophisticated packaging, cosmetics and the likes, prices of the final product have risen around 4%, although in that chain the impact can go up to 6% in some cases. In most cases, the increases in prices have been between 1% and 2%,” said Mitchell. “For the consumers, the price rises have not been as noticeable as some feared. To give you an idea, the tax collected in its first year Colombian pesos (Ps) 70 billion ($17m). I imagine that amount, when divided by the 45 million Colombian consumers, was not that noticeable in their pockets, but the tax has put a burden on plastics producers and its customers, not least for the chaotic implementation.” THE PLASTIC PROBLEMClarified the first hurdles, the more meaningful debate. A trade group representing plastics producers will invariably oppose a tax on their operations, but the plastics industry remains on the eye of the storm in the debate about sustainability. Plastics producers have for decades operated with healthy profits most years. Meanwhile, plastics pollution has grown in little more than half a century into a problem which is causing most humans, according to several studies, to carry plastics in them: homo plastic so to speak. While no producer will accept direct responsibility in the pollution problem, some sources within the chain in Latin America say the industry could have at least done one thing better. According to the CEO of Chile’s plastics trade group Asipla, Magdalena Balcellsdo, producers knew a long time ago the plastic pollution problem was becoming serious, and either were late to talk about it and alert the authorities, or ignored it completely. “Obviously, a company producing plastics has no competencies about the plastic waste, which falls on the authorities. Plastics have a big demand and are indispensable in so many applications. The debate has really taken off, rightly so, in the past 15 years – before that, the talk was mostly about how plastics were so useful and almost a win-win for all elements in the chain,” said Mitchell. “Things have changed, and I really think the circular economy is taking off. This is due to a combination of regulation, private sector initiatives, and more engagement from consumers. We need to reach a system where there is not waste, full stop.” – But in such a scenario, plastic producers of today would effectively run out of a business? If everything is recycled, there would not be a need to produce virgin material? – You will always have a small number of applications in which, at least for now, you cannot use recycled materials. Also, I think that while we may aim to recycle all plastics, the demand for plastics will always be larger than that supply of recyclable material. ($1 = Ps4,172) Interview article by Jonathan Lopez Front page picture: Plastic bottles and plastic rubbish are shredded and pressed; archive image Source Jochen Tack/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

19-Jun-2024

PODCAST: UK election impact for hydrogen

LONDON (ICIS)–In this UK general election special, ICIS hydrogen editor speaks with Rob Dale, founder and director of UK consultancy Beyond2050, which aims at supporting market participants in achieving their energy and sustainability goals. Over the course of the episode, Jake and Rob review which parties have committed to hydrogen for the election and what makes this election the biggest for hydrogen so far.

19-Jun-2024

ICIS EXPLAINS: UK election impact on energy

Understand what the parties are planning for hydrogen with our latest podcast Conversative party focus on gas-fired power generation could increase gas demand Labour, Conservative parties make key pledges for nuclear, with Conservatives considering  plant in north Wales LONDON (ICIS) — On 4 July 2024 the UK public will elect a new government, but what do the different parties have in store for energy? The following analysis reflect core pledges from manifestos and reviews those pledges in detail using ICIS data and insights. This analysis of UK political pledges and announcements will be continuously updated by the ICIS energy editorial team. Lead authors include: UK power reporter Anna Coulson, British gas reporter Matthew Farmer. ICIS will update this analysis with Scottish National Party (SNP) plans following the release of its manifesto. GAS-FIRED POWER DEMAND LIKELY UNMOVED Both the Conservatives and the Labour party show support for the continued use of gas for power generation, bolstering a key area of demand for British gas market participants. However, of the two parties, the Conservatives presented a more bullish mentality by noting intensions for new gas plants, aligning with previous announcements to support new capacity. Labour meanwhile take a muted approach, noting the need for a strategic reserve of gas for power generation. Both Labour and the Conservatives have therefore presented policy that could reduce power-market price volatility as renewable capacity grows, with gas offering baseload generation at periods of low renewable output. Gas demand for power to remain From a gas-market perspective, the use of gas for power amounts to a large share of overall demand. In 2023, gas offtake for power accounted for 26% of total gas demand. The UK is heavily reliant on gas-fired power generation, with it contributing 26% of the UK’s electricity mix in the period 1 January to 31 May 2024, according to data from National Grid. Similarly, gas-fired generation provided an average 36.3% of the mix over the 2019-23 period, therefore making a significant contribution to the UK’s electricity stack. While the capacity of new gas generation is not mentioned in the Conservative party’s manifesto, ICIS analytics forecast data indicates that gas capacity is set to increase through to 2026, under a base case scenario. This would suggest that offtake for power generation could well remain a key share of overall gas demand under either a Conversative or a Labour government. Further, ICIS data shows that there will be 7.92GW of gas capacity in 2050 under a base case scenario, which itself raises uncertainty around the prospect of pledges to decarbonize power grids by around the 2030s. NUCLEAR Nuclear power represented a large focus for the Labour, Conservative and Reform UK parties, which each announced plans to increase nuclear capacity through a mix of measures, such as plant life extensions, new large-scale projects, or Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). Despite this, the overall pledges presented for the election suggests need for further capacity build-out in the run up to 2050 in order to meet the government's target. While the Conservative’s manifesto did not mention a specific nuclear capacity target, the current government has a target to reach 24GW of nuclear capacity by 2050. ICIS analytics forecasts that, under a base case scenario, nuclear capacity will be 12.76GW by 2050. Plant life extensions Although Labour’s manifesto did not provide details on which nuclear plants it intended to focus on for life extensions, or for how long, the intension is in line with former market announcements from EDF, which stated plans in January 2024 to extend the lives of five UK nuclear plants. EDF plans to invest an additional £1.3bn in these power stations over 2024-26, with the aim to maintain output from the four advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGR) for as long as possible, and for the Sizewell B plant to operate for an additional 20 years. The lifetimes of the four AGR stations would be reviewed by the end of 2024. New capacity From a new capacity perspective Labour pledged to get the 3.2GW Hinkley Point C project over the line and that new nuclear power stations, such as the 3.2GW Sizewell C project, will play a key role in helping the UK to achieve energy security and clean power. In January, the Conservatives announced plans for a new large-scale nuclear power plant, which would be as large as Hinkley Point C or Sizewell C, which are both 3.2GW in capacity. The current government announced in May that Wylfa would be the preferred site for this new plant however, a commissioning date is still to be confirmed. This aligns with the party’s manifesto pledge to deliver a new gigawatt power plant at the same location. The new plant in Wales could well boost UK nuclear capacity, but it would still present a capacity gap between the current ICIS forecast for 2050 and the government’s target of 24GW. Small modular reactors Labour, the Conservatives, and Reform UK all mention SMRs in their manifestos however, the Conservatives will approve two new fleets of SMRs within the first 100 days of the next parliament. This is likely through the competitive process that Great British Nuclear (GBN) launched in 2023 to select SMR technologies best placed to be operational by the mid-2030s. GBN plans to announce successful bidders for the competition by the end of 2024 and to take two SMR projects to a final investment decision by 2029. However, it must be noted that SMRs are a new technology, and none are commissioned yet in Europe.    HYDROGEN In this UK general election special, ICIS hydrogen editor speaks with Rob Dale, founder and director of UK consultancy Beyond2050, which aims at supporting market participants in achieving their energy and sustainability goals. Over the course of the episode, Jake and Rob review which parties have committed to hydrogen for the election and what makes this election the biggest for hydrogen so far.

19-Jun-2024

Brazil’s flood-hit state mostly back on track as roads, ports reopen – analyst

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Most of Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state’s infrastructure is back on track so companies can look forward to start their recovery from the historic floods afflicting the state in May, according to an analyst at supply chain consultancy Everstreams. Jena Santoro said that after the Port of Porto Alegre – the state’s largest city – reopened this week all ports in the state and the main roads and highways have now reopened, although some of the latter only operating at partial capacity as landslides and run-offs caused widespread damage. However, the situation has sharply improved in the past two weeks, added Santoro. The petrochemicals hub of Triunfo, near Porto Alegre, restarted operations in mid-May but only at reduced rates as infrastructure at the time was still heavily affected. Polymers major Braskem, the main producer in the area, said at the beginning of June it expected its operations to normalize in the coming days. Authorities have opened credit lines with favorable interest rates, although trade groups in the state have said more will be needed for the economy to recover. “Rio Grande do Sul’s port are functioning, although Porto Alegre’s is operating at limited rates. The really bad flooding situation has receded and, in general, we are seeing the situation is a lot more stable than it was even one week ago, or two weeks ago,” said Santoro. “However, even if the ports are all functioning, they have a large backlog to work through: this is bound to continue having an impact just because it was an event lasting several weeks and causing a great backlog. In terms of roads, highways which had a lot of debris or suffered landslides have now been cleared.” Many roads, the analyst added, are however only partially open – with one direction functioning, which causes congestion – but they are all gradually reopening, she said. In general, however, Santoro said Brazil seems to be ill-prepared for which looks to be a large challenge for the country coming up: extreme weather events as its immense geography can make it suffer droughts in the north and floods in the south at the same time, like it happened in 2023. “We have been monitoring the floods and the droughts in Brazil, which are very important because they can end up recurrently causing disruptions to agriculture and the export of grains, which can have an impact on global exports of agricultural commodities,” she said. “Indeed, it seems Brazil is set to continue to be hit by these extreme weather events from both ends, events which are set to increase in the future, but the country doesn’t seem to be a particularly prepared for it, one way or the other.” In another interview with Santoro earlier this week, she said the expected rains in the Gulf of Mexico could greatly contribute to alleviate the severe drought affecting the Altamira petrochemicals hub in Mexico's state of Tamaulipas. However, she warned that heavy rains could also cause flooding and, potentially, end up adding more challenges for petrochemicals companies in the area, which are operating at reduced rates or shut operations after authorities limited water supplies to industrial players there. Interview article by Jonathan Lopez

19-Jun-2024

Thai bio-ethylene plant key to growing SCG Chemicals' green plastics portfolio

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Thailand's SCG Chemicals (SCGC) has obtained government approval for its 200,000 tonne/year joint venture bio-ethylene plant in Map Ta Phut, paving the way for the company to reach its target of producing 1m tonnes/year of green polymers by 2030. SCGC, Braskem joint venture firm eyes green downstream PE output Final investment decision on bio-ethylene project likely by Q4 SCGC focusing on increasing recycled plastic production and use The Thai baht (Bt) 19.3 billion ($526 million) bio-ethylene plant will use agricultural products such as sugarcane, cassava and corn as feedstock, the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) in a statement issued on 14 June. The project will be operated by Braskem Siam Co, a 51:49 joint venture between Brazilian producer Braskem and SCGC. The plant, which will built in Rayong province, will enable production of bio-based polyethylene (PE) in Thailand which will be the first of its kind outside Brazil. SCGC’s parent firm Siam Cement Group (SCG), in a 11 June slide presentation posted on its website, said that it will likely make a final investment decision (FID) on the bio-ethylene project by the fourth quarter of this year, the company said in presentation slides posted on 11 June. The chemicals arm of the Thai conglomerate has set a target of production 1 million tonnes/year of green polymers by 2030, by leveraging strategic partnerships and innovative technologies to drive its expansion, it said. As of end-2023, the company was producing around 218,000 tonnes/year of environment-friendly plastics. SCGC Green Polymers Growth Plans Source: SCGC As part of its green polymer expansion plans, SCG in February this year announced a Bt173 million investment to hold a 3% stake in Netherlands-based renewable chemicals technology firm Avantium. Avantium‘s proprietary technology can be used to produce a variety of sustainable chemicals, including bio-based polyethylene (PE) and bio-based polyamide (PA). SCGC and Avantium last year agreed to develop polymers based on sustainable carbon feedstocks such as those from biomass or carbon from air, and scale up a pilot plant in the next two years to produce 10 tonnes/year of the material. On the recycling front, SCGC is aiming to increase its sales volumes of green polymers from odorless post-consumer recycled resin (PCR) high density polyethylene (HDPE) via its partnership with Portugal-based recycled plastic producer Sirplaste. The Thai producer owns 70% of Sirplaste. In September 2023, SCGC achieved a fivefold increase in production capacity for odorless HDPE PCR resin to 45,000 tonnes/year following installation of new machinery at Sirplaste's plant, based on SCG’s June 11 slides. SCGC has also invested in Kras, a Dutch company that specializes in managing waste materials, to develop a comprehensive recycled plastic production system that meets global demand, especially in Europe, "where the need for environmentally friendly packaging is continuously growing". In May, SCGC and Dow signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to transform 200,00 tonnes/year plastic waste into circular products by 2030. The initial phases of the partnership will concentrate on building a robust materials ecosystem in Southeast Asia. This will involve establishing partnerships with existing suppliers for PCR and developing advanced technological solutions for waste sorting, mechanical recycling (MR), and advanced recycling (AR) in Thailand. Separately, SCGC parent firm SCG has also received approval to invest Bt6 billion in a co-generation power plant within the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong province. This plant will have a production capacity of 130 megawatts (MW) of power and 160 tonnes of steam per hour and will primarily supply electricity to factories within the industrial estate. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman ($1 = Bt36.72) Thumbnail image: At the Laem Chabang Port in Chonburi Province, Thailand, 24 January 2022. (Xinhua/Shutterstock)

19-Jun-2024

Storm system could drop 5-10 inches of rain in NE Mexico, South Texas

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Potential Tropical Cyclone One could drop from six-12 inches of rain over South Texas as it approaches the US Gulf Coast this week, meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Tuesday. As of 18:00 GMT the storm remains large but disorganized over the southwestern US Gulf, with heavy rainfall expected along the Gulf Coast over the next day or two, the NHC said and as shown in the following image. Source: National Hurricane Center The storm is about 405 miles (655 km) southeast of Brownsville, Texas, with estimated wind speeds of 40 miles/hour (65 km/hour), as shown in the following image. Source: National Hurricane Center At this time, most US Gulf Coast chem plant operations are expected to run as normal barring any rapid intensification. So far it does not appear that offshore oil and gas operations are being impacted. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) provides daily updates when storms lead to the evacuation of offshore production platforms. There was no update on Tuesday from BSEE. Production platforms are the offshore structures from which oil and natural gas are produced. Unlike drilling rigs, which can be moved, production facilities remain in the same location throughout a project’s duration. Another disturbance in the southwest Atlantic has a 10% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours, as shown in the following image. Source: National Hurricane Center Environmental conditions are marginally conducive for some gradual development of this system during the next few days while it moves westward or west northwestward. The system is forecast to approach the coast of the southeastern United States on Friday. There is likely to be increased focus on US Gulf petchem production this summer as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting the greatest number of hurricanes in the agency’s history. NOAA forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center said that the hurricane season – which started on 1 June and runs through 30 November – has an 85% chance to be above-normal, a 10% chance of being near-normal and only a 5% chance of being below-normal. The prediction of 17-25 named storms is the highest ever, topping the 14-23 predicted in 2010. A storm is named once it has sustained winds of 39 miles/hour (63km/h). Damage from hurricanes can lead to increased demand for chemicals, but hurricanes and tropical storms can also disrupt the North American petrochemical industry because many of the nation's plants and refineries are along the US Gulf Coast in the states of Texas and Louisiana. In 2022, oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico accounted for about 15% of total US crude oil production and about 2% of total US dry natural gas production, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Even the threat of a major storm can disrupt oil and natural gas supplies because companies often evacuate US Gulf platforms as a precaution.

18-Jun-2024

For drought-stricken area, rain in Mexico’s Altamiras could help end petchem crisis – analyst

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Rains this week in the area where the Altamira petrochemicals hub is located, in Mexico’s state of Tamaulipas, could start fixing the weeks-long drought which has hit companies in the area hard, according to an analyst at supply chain consultancy Everstream. Jena Santoro added that, while force majeures by industrial players across the board remain in place, companies are privately saying this week's rain could be the beginning of the end in the drought crisis which has forced many of them to reduce or shut operations. The analyst added, however, that extremely dry land after months of practically no rain could cause other problems: if rainfall is heavy, the water may not perforate the land, causing landslides or floods which could add up logistical problems. In mid-May, the government in Tamaulipas halved water supplies to industrial players on the back of the drought. Soon after, petrochemicals companies operating in Altamira started declaring force majeures for several products. Last week, sources said to ICIS that supply was not yet affected by the operational hurdles related to the drought, although adding that industrial players were fearful that a prolonged drought could have a meaningful impact on both US and Mexico’s petrochemicals. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Mexico’s petrochemicals major Orbia said to ICIS the company’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production out of Altamira remains affected, where the company has the capacity to produce 690,000 tonnes/year, according to the ICIS Supply & Demand Database (ISDD). RAINY SEASONMany parts in the Gulf of Mexico are expected to receive considerable rainfall from Wednesday (19 June) onwards, including Mexico’s state of Tamaulipas, one of the most affected in a nation-wide crisis which has jeopardized water supply to households and companies in several regions. “We have a tropical system that just happens to be moving this week toward Tamaulipas state. So, I think in the next 24 to 48 hours, the situation will look very different than what we're seeing. That heavily impacted area is also one of the areas expected to receive heavy rainfall,” said Santoro. “The state of Tamaulipas and the Altamira area in particular are supposed to receive a lot of rain between June and July, according to our meteorological department: this week’s storm system is the beginning of that.” Companies have been, on average, around four weeks out of operations or with reduced rates. That period should be manageable as companies can work through stocks or bring in product from other facilities. However, longer shutdowns could really start affecting supply and, ultimately, cause a hit to companies’ financials. “Nobody has come out publicly saying any specific timeline or duration [for the current disruption to end] but, at least from what our sources are saying and what we are seeing by monitoring this closely hour by hour, this could be the beginning of the end of the crisis,” said Santoro. “Obviously, in private companies are already saying this rain is very welcome,” the analyst went on to say. FLOODS, LANDSLIDESHowever, the situation will not be fully normalized until the rainy season in June-July concludes, pretty much because companies will need to be alert for potential flooding caused by the heavy rains coming up in the traditionally storm, hurricane-prone season in the Gulf of Mexico. After months of little or non-existent rainfall, the ground is extremely dry and, when it rains, the water can run off and cause flash flooding. Dry land is usually hard-packed, dense, and the pores in the surface can be too small to absorb water quickly. “Indeed, we may go from one extreme to the next: with a lot of rain, there is potential for flooding in the Altamira area and in Tamaulipas. On one hand, rains could refill water reservoirs and ease the drought but in the same very week they could end up having different logistical and production challenges if there is flooding,” said Santoro. “With flooding, there is potential for things like landslides and run-offs, which can block roads and highways, So, companies are hoping that it will be some kind of happy middle ground, where the rain is not too extreme as to present added challenges and issues.” Front page picture: The Port of Altamira, Mexico's state of Tamaulipas Source: Altamira Municipality Interview article by Jonathan Lopez  

18-Jun-2024

New industrial deal needed to enable energy transition – Europe trade groups

BARCELONA (ICIS)–The EU needs a powerful industrial strategy to deliver the massive expansion in renewable energy required to power energy-intensive sectors which will provide locally made raw materials, according to a coalition of regional trade groups. Europe currently lacks policies to sustain and grow sectors such as chemicals, cement, steel and other metals which have suffered an unprecedented curtailment of production in recent years due to the impact of the energy crisis, the groups said in a joint statement released on Tuesday. Accelerated wind deployment will be central to delivering the decarbonization of Europe’s economy, said the group, adding that wind already delivers 20% of electricity consumption in Europe and is therefore a strategic resource for Europe’s industry. “Chemicals, steel, aluminium, copper and cement are all a vital part of the European wind supply chain. Europe needs strong energy and electricity intensive industries in order to deliver the massive expansion of renewables,” said the group. It calls for locally produced materials and equipment for energy and other low-carbon infrastructure to be made in Europe. That will require globally competitive clean energy and access to raw materials. Energy intensive industries have experienced unprecedented curtailment of production in recent years due to the impact of the energy crisis, said the group. Addressing this challenge must be at the core of a new Industrial Deal for Europe. Faster renewables deployment will help reducing energy bills for consumers. According to Marco Mensink, director general of Europe’s main chemicals trade group Cefic: “We will only make a business case for Europe and be able to implement the Green Deal if Europe creates strong and innovative partnerships, across multiple value chains. The first step is to develop a plan for direct electrification for industry, then we jointly focus to help create the necessary infrastructure and new wind energy capacity.” This joint statement echoes messages in February’s Antwerp Declaration for a European Industrial Deal,  signed by more than 1,200 business leaders. This new statement is signed by trade groups Cefic, WindEurope, CEMBUREAU, the European cement association, steel group EUROFER and Eurometaux, Europe’s Metals Association. Europe’s uncompetitive energy and feedstock cost position has put it at the forefront of a global wave of permanent plant closures and restructuring plans. Click on the image to make it larger. Thumbnail photo: Cefic's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium (Source: Cefic)

18-Jun-2024

Featured customers

Contact us

Partnering with ICIS unlocks a vision of a future you can trust and achieve. We leverage our unrivalled network of industry experts to deliver a comprehensive market view based on trusted data, insight and analytics, supporting our partners as they transact today and plan for tomorrow.

    We would like to keep you up-to-date with what’s happening at ICIS* and tell you about our latest products and other services. We may email you about information we think you’ll be interested in, including selected articles and reminders about forthcoming events. If you do not wish to receive such information please tick the box to opt out of these emails