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PODCAST: Sulphur shortage still a worry for Europe's capro market

LONDON (ICIS)–Caprolactam (capro) availability in Europe has been very tight until recently, following a shortage of sulphur and low downstream demand. However, slow capro demand has helped to balance the market. Senior capro editor Marta Fern joins senior fertilizer editors Julia Meehan and Sylvia Traganida to discuss current developments and what lies ahead for the market.


PODCAST: US beats Mideast as China’s largest propane, butane exporter in H1

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The US overtook the Middle East for the first time as China’s largest supplier of propane and butane in the first half of 2024. US, Mideast account for 90% of China’s propane, butane imports in past two years US’ share to China’s LPG imports at 49.4% in H1 China H1 propane imports up 18%; butane imports down 15% Listen to ICIS LPG analysts Yan Wang and Shihao Zhou as they discuss the drivers behind the changes in data and the preferences of major Chinese importers.


PODCAST: China eyes boosting low carbon hydrogen to cut emissions

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–In a bid to achieve its ambitious emissions targets, China is ramping up efforts to boost low-carbon hydrogen production through regulatory reforms. While hydrogen production and demand in China have steadily increased in recent years, renewable hydrogen – a crucial element in decarbonizing hard-to-abate industries – still makes up less than 2% of the country's total hydrogen output. China has committed to peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. ICIS Asia deputy news editor Nurluqman Suratman and ICIS analyst Yu Yunfeng delve into the latest developments in China's hydrogen industry on this podcast. China's 2023 Hydrogen Production: 37 million tonnes, 4.5% year-on-year growth Trade Tensions: EU concerns about unfair competition Emerging Trend: Transportation sector to be second largest hydrogen user


BLOG: China petrochemicals capacity growth: A new normal of much greater uncertainty

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections by John Richardson: Understanding what was going to happen to petrochemicals capacity additions in China used to be easy as all you had to do was read the state-run press. I am referring to comments in the local media way back in 2014 that China was going to push much harder towards petrochemicals self-sufficiency. This helps explain why in products such as polypropylene (PP), China’s percentages of capacity over demand could this year exceed 100%. But conversations with industry sources indicate that interpreting what will happen next to China’s capacity growth has become way more complex. Let’s start with the decision to cap China’s refinery capacity at some 1 billion tonnes a year from 2027 onwards up to at least 2040. This is a huge change from 2000-2026 when capacity is forecast to increase by more than 250%. The reason for the cap on refinery capacity is that China wants 40% of its car fleet to comprise electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030. It also wants all new car sales to be EVs by that year. At first glance, this indicates that China won’t have sufficient local petrochemicals feedstock to maintain its aggressive self-sufficiency push. One could thus reach the conclusion that deficits or imports will rise given the weaker economics of importing feedstocks. But local refineries may be turned into petrochemicals feedstock centers. As local transportation fuels demand declines, maintaining good refinery operating rates may hinge on China’s ability to export increasing quantities of gasoline and diesel which in a world of increasing trade tensions may be difficult. I had thought that China’s push towards peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060 would make it difficult to get approval for heavy industrial projects for start-up after 2030. Now, though, I’ve been told that the push to reduce carbon emissions is already making it hard to win approvals. Each province in China has reportedly been given a carbon budget. If a province wants to make room in its budget for a heavy industrial project, it might have to shut down an existing plant. Combine this with the small scale of some petrochemicals plants in China and we will or already are seeing closures of older plants to make way for new facilities, I’ve been told. This especially applies to the more developed provinces with high carbon output. If all of this is true, do not assume that this is automatically good news for all petrochemicals exporters to China because of the demographic-driven demand slowdown, China’s sustainability push and the country’s closer relationship with Saudi Arabia. As I’ve been stressing over the last three years, events in China point to a much more confused and blurred picture. Don’t panic and embrace confusion as this is the only sensible response. Editor’s note: This blog post is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS.


Despite recent weather, US crops making steady progress with corn silking now at 41%

HOUSTON (ICIS)–US crops continue to be making steady progress despite the recent stormy weather and elevated temperatures persisting with there now being 41% of corn silking and 51% of soybeans blooming, according to the latest US Department of Agriculture (USDA) weekly crop progress report. For the corn crop, this current pace of silking is above the 40% rate achieved in 2023 as well as the five-year average of 32%. Corn reaching the dough stage is now at 8% of the crop, which is ahead of the 6% achieved last year and the five-year average of 4%. For corn conditions, the USDA showed them as unchanged week on week with there still being 3% of the crop rated as very poor and 6% as poor, with 23% considered fair, 52% labeled as good and 16% as excellent. For soybeans, there is 51% of the acreage which has reached blooming, which is equal to the 51% mark from 2023 but the current pace of the crop is ahead of the five-year average of 44%. Soybean acreage which is setting pods increased to 18%, which is slightly above the 17% level seen last season and is higher than the five-year average of 12%. For soybean conditions, there continues to be 2% of the crop viewed as very poor with 6% remaining as poor, with 24% still considered fair. The USDA now lists 56% of the acreage as good with there now being 12% viewed as excellent. In harvesting updates, the crop report reflects that winter wheat is now 71% completed, which is farther along than 53% achieved in 2023 and above the five-year average of 62%. Currently, Arkansas and Oklahoma have finished their acreage, followed closely by several states now at 97% completed, including Missouri and Texas.


Stolthaven Terminals chosen as potential operator for Brazil green ammonia export terminal

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Logistics firm Stolthaven Terminals announced that in cooperation with Global Energy Storage (GES), it has been selected as the only potential operator to design, build and operate a green ammonia terminal in Brazil to be located within the industrial export zone at Pecem in the state of Ceara. The Port of Pecem Authority, referred to as CIPP, awarded the rights to the partnership after a 15-month tender process involving global storage providers. Stolthaven said this development will see the production of green hydrogen and ammonia and allow offshore markets access to one of the most competitive sources of this renewable energy. During the next phase, with the involvement of all parties including ammonia producers, the basic engineering of the terminals will be undertaken before confirmation of the official contract. In 2023, Stolthaven Terminals and GES agreed upon a partnership to develop and operate an export terminal for hydrogen and its derivatives with Stolthaven already having a local presence in Brazil with 42 years of experience as a storage provider in the Port of Santos. “We are proud to be chosen by CIPP as the right partner for its Hydrogen Hub. This is one more step towards executing our strategy for growth and supporting our customers in transitioning to green energy,” said Marcelo Schmitt, Stolthaven Santos general manager. “Brazil is fast becoming a new export powerhouse for biofuels and renewable energies and our extensive local and global experience, together with the expertise of our partner GES, will make it a successful and exciting development for the storage industry.”


Silver Valley Metals selling Idaho project to refocus on Mexico lithium and SOP project

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Brownfield exploration company Silver Valley Metals announced it has signed an asset purchase agreement for the Ranger-Page project in Idaho which will allow it to refocus efforts at its lithium and potash project in central Mexico. The firm said the decision came after careful consideration of its options about how to move forward in the most effective and least capital dilutive way. With two significant projects and a share structure that remains intact, the company said entering a sale with Silver Dollar Resources Incorporated was considered to be the most strategic option. Part of the decision was based on them having continued participation in the Ranger-Page project through its 12% equity stake in Silver Dollar. Silver Valley Metals CEO Brandon Rook said selling the Ranger-Page project will help relieve the company from having to undergo substantial capital dilution in order to meet the financial obligations it has over the next 15 months. “We believe there is strong upside to Silver Dollar’s share value because of its tier one assets in their portfolio today. With this transaction, Silver Valley avoids diluting its shares on a 2X plus multiple and adds dollars to the treasury at the same time,” said Rook. Following the transaction, the company said it will be in a good position to refocus efforts at its lithium and sulphate of potash (SOP) project located in the states of Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi. Comprised of 4,056 hectares over three mineral concessions, the project’s inferred mineral resource has demonstrated that the area contains 12.3 million tonnes of SOP and 243,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent.


Westlake appoints Jean-Marc Gilson as new CEO, effective today

NEW YORK (ICIS)–US-based chemical and building materials producer Westlake Corp has appointed Jean-Marc Gilson as president and CEO, effective 15 July. He succeeds Albert Chao, who becomes executive chairman of the Westlake board of directors. Gilson most recently served as president and CEO of Japan-based Mitsubishi Chemical Group from 2021 until March 2024. From 2014-2020, Gilson served as CEO of France-based Roquette, a family-owned global leader in plant-based ingredients and a leading provider of pharmaceutical excipients. James Chao, the current chairman of the board, will become senior chairman. All these appointments take effect 15 July. “I am excited to welcome Jean-Marc as the newest addition to Westlake’s management team. Westlake is in a very strong position supported by a world-class team, and, having served as the CEO of Westlake for the last 20 years, now is the right time to implement our succession plan,” said Albert Chao, who noted Gilson’s 25 years of executive experience in the chemical industry in the US, Europe and Asia. “I am honored and humbled to become the second, and first non-family, CEO of Westlake,” said Gilson. “I have long admired Westlake as a best-in-class company at the forefront of delivering life-enhancing products through innovation in essential materials and building products,” he added. Jean-Marc Gilson also becomes president and CEO and a director of Westlake Chemical Partners GP LLC, the general partner of Westlake Chemical Partners LP. Albert Chao will become executive chairman and James Chao will become senior chairman of the Westlake Chemical Partners GP LLC board of directors. UBS analyst Joshua Spector said the timing comes as a “bit of surprise”. The Chao family owns around 75% of Westlake Corp, and Gilson’s 25 years of experience skews towards specialty chemicals, he noted. Key questions will be around Westlake’s strategy and commitment to growing the building products business, Spector added.


ICIS Hydrogen Insights Podcast

LONDON (ICIS)–Here you can find the latest edition of our monthly hydrogen podcast, where ICIS hydrogen market experts discuss key trends from across the supply chain of this developing market. For more information on ICIS hydrogen content, please email ICIS global hydrogen editor at


BLOG: The time for action to protect European chemicals is now

LONDON (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Chemicals & The Economy by Paul Hodges, which looks at the growing risk that Europe will deindustrialise. Editor’s note: This blog post is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS. Paul Hodges is the chairman of consultants New Normal Consulting.


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