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ANALYST UPDATE: Dutch hydrogen market growth October 2023-April 2024

LONDON (ICIS)–ICIS Hydrogen Foresight data shows that over the period October 2023-April 2024, the Dutch hydrogen market saw growth across planned low-carbon hydrogen supply and demand. However, despite progression across future buyers and sellers, project progression has remained muted, with no projects progressing to final investment decision (FID). To review the findings of this update, please see the complete analysis below.


Egypt issues new tender as LNG imports bring relief

EGPC seeks another five LNG cargoes Local industry restarts, power cuts suspended Egypt to bring in up to 26 cargoes over summer LONDON (ICIS)–Egypt is in the market for another five LNG cargoes as the country continues to address declining domestic gas production and soaring summer demand. Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) has issued a TTF-linked DES tender covering 13-14 and 25-26 August and 3-4, 12-13 and 21-22 September delivery windows, traders said on Wednesday. The two cargoes for delivery in August and the middle cargo in September would be delivered to Egypt’s Ain Sukhna terminal, while the first and third September cargoes would be sent to Jordan’s Aqaba terminal for further pipeline delivery. The tender closes on 29 July at 12:00 noon Cairo time and is valid to 18:00 on the same day. This is the fourth LNG tender round Egypt has issued covering the summer period this year, as the country has been forced to turn from LNG exports to imports. EGPC has previously been in the market seeking a total of 22 cargoes in three separate rounds. All cargoes were reported to have been awarded, expect for the 1-2 September cargo in a two-cargo tender that closed on 22 July, one trader said. If the latest tender is fully awarded, this could bring a total of 26 spot cargoes into Egypt from mid-June to mid-September. UREA PRODUCERS RESTART Latest data from association JODI shows a continued decline in domestic gas production. Average May production was around 138 million cubic meters (mcm)/day, down from 142mcm/day in April and 163mcm/day in May 2023. However, the flow of LNG seems to have brought some relief to local industry. Some Egyptian urea producers shut down for a day last week but then restarted, sources said, with one source attributing the ramp up to LNG imports. Five cargoes have been delivered since the start of July, according to ICIS data. As of this week, urea plants in Egypt are running at around 80% capacity on average. “I believe this will [be sustained] till the end of summer period,” a urea source said. “Heard also that old electricity stations have started to work with fuel oil as an alternative [for] gas,” they added. Only one of Abu Qir’s prilled urea lines is down, while its other two lines are running as normal. The government has also suspended its electricity load-shedding program from 21 July until mid-September, as recently announced by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. The Prime Minister said the power cuts halted after the arrival of some LNG cargoes. The cuts were introduced last summer and resulted in daily two-to-three hour power cuts across most of the country. Additional reporting by Deepika Thapliyal.


Eurozone private sector momentum slows further in July

LONDON (ICIS)–Eurozone private sector momentum almost slowed to a standstill in July, dropping to a five-month low as new orders fell and business confidence ebbed. The composite eurozone purchasing managers’ index (PMI) slipped to 50.1 in the month compared with 50.9 in June, according to S&P Global, with manufacturing sinking further into contraction and service sector growth slowing. A PMI score of above 50.0 signifies growth. Output in Germany sank for the first time in four months in July, while activity in France ebbed for the third consecutive month. Business confidence for the bloc as a whole dropped to its lowest level in six months which arrested the spell of new hiring. The rate of input cost inflation accelerated but low demand meant that companies pushed through the price increases at a softer pace, contributing to the slowest pace of change for inflation since October. The decline in manufacturing activity was the largest monthly fall in 2024, with services slowing but still managing to keep the region in overall growth. The manufacturing sector PMI fell to 45.6 in July from 45.8 in June, while the service sector index fell from 52.8 to 51.9 month on month. New export orders fell faster than total new business as players struggled to secure international sales, representing the 29th successive month of decline. “It’s unsettling how steadily companies in the manufacturing sector are slashing jobs month by month. The pace has barely changed over the last ten months,” said Cyrus de la Rubia, chief economist at Hamburg Commercial Bank, which helps to produce the data. Despite the tepid economic data, sticky input price inflation makes the case for successive rate cuts more difficult, he added. “If only growth was considered, you find a strong argument for a rate cut in September by the ECB (European Central Bank). However, prices data did not provide hoped for relief,” de la Rubia said. “Our conclusion is that while a September rate cut will most probably be exercised, it will be much trickier to follow this path in the months thereafter, unless the downturn morphs into a deep recession,” he added. The unexpected pace of decline for the eurozone economy may result in economic forecast cuts down the line, according to Rory Fennessy, senior economist at Oxford Economics. “The eurozone's flash July PMIs corroborate the message sent by other leading indicators that the recovery is faltering. If leading indicators continue to underwhelm, this may result in a downgrade to our GDP growth forecasts for H2 2024,” he said. Momentum for the UK private sector continued to strengthen despite dynamics seen in the eurozone, with the composite PMI hitting 52.7 in July compared to 52.3 in June, a two-month high. UK manufacturing sector growth outpaced that of services, reaching a 29-month high of 54.4 compared to 52.4 in the latter industry. Average prices charged by companies eased but remain steep due to elevated costs, according to S&P Global. Input costs for the service sector eased on the back of softening wage pressures, but the manufacturing sector saw the sharpest rise in costs in a year-and-a-half on the back of Red Sea logistics disruption. The slower pace of price increases raises the odds of a central bank rate cut before autumn, but the pace of winding down current high interest levels is likely to be slow, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence chief economist Chris Williamson. “Prices have meanwhile risen at their lowest rate for three-and-a-half years, further raising the prospect of a summer rate cut,” he said. “However, policymakers will likely take a cautious approach to loosening policy amid signs of inflationary pressures pivoting away from services towards manufacturing, where Red Sea shipping delays and higher freight prices are adding to costs again,” he added. Thumbnail photo: Rotterdam port (Source: Hollandse Hoogte/Shutterstock)


VIDEO: China's LDPE market weakens as supply tightness eases

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Watch ICIS senior industry analyst Joanne Wang discuss the driving factors behind the China's low density polyethylene (LDPE) price fluctuations this year and briefly discuss prospects for the second half of this year. Q2 LDPE prices rose sharply due to concentrated maintenance at home and abroad. Imported shipments arrived in late June, and coupled with limited domestic demand growth, prices fell. New facilities may start up in Q4, leading to further increases in domestic supply.


Taiwan braces for Typhoon Gaemi; Mailiao port closed

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Taiwan is bracing for the arrival of Typhoon Gaemi, which is expected to make a landfall northeast of the island on Wednesday evening. Financial markets are closed, as well as offices in most cities and counties on Wednesday as the northeastern region is being pelted by heavy rains. At 10:15 local time (02:15 GMT), Gaemi was located around 90 kilometers (km) west of Taipei and 180 kilometers southeast of Yilan County, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Administration (CWA). Gaemi was packing maximum winds of 162 kilometers per hour near its center. Source: Google Maps In the northwest, Mailiao port, which primarily serves the Mailiao petrochemical complex, has been closed since early 23 July and will remain closed until 06:00 local time on 26 July, according to a shipping source. Taiwan's major petrochemical complexes are in Toufen and Mailiao in the northwest; and Ta-sheh and Linyuan in Kaohsiung City in the south. The capital of Taipei, along with its neighboring cities of New Taipei, Keelung, and Taoyuan, will be closing schools and offices on Wednesday. Typhoon warning is currently in effect over Nantou, Chiayi, Chiayi City, Keelung City, Yilan, Pingtung, Changhua, New Taipei City, Hsinchu, Hsinchu City, Taoyuan City, Penghu, Taichung City, Taipei City, Tainan City, Taitung, Hualien, Miaoli, Yunlin, Lienchiang, and Kaohsiung City. In the Philippines, heavy rains since early Wednesday triggered widespread flooding in Metro Manila, prompting suspension of financial market operations. The typhoon did not make landfall in the southeast Asian country but was enhancing a southwest monsoon resulting in heavy-to-intense downpour in the northern regions, its state weather agency said. The typhoon will likely move across the Taiwan Strait after making a landfall and hit Fujian province in southeastern China in the late afternoon of 26 July. China's National Meteorological Center (NMC) on Wednesday issued an orange alert for Typhoon Gaemi, which is expected to bring strong wind and heavy rain to the country's southern regions. After landfall, Gaemi is likely to weaken into a tropical storm as it tracks north northwestward over Fujian province late on 25-26 July. It would weaken further into a tropical depression and then dissipate as it moves over Jiangxi province late on 26-27 July, and into southeastern Hubei province on 27 July, according to NMC.


Japan July flash manufacturing PMI falls to 49.2 as output, new orders fall

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan’s manufacturing sector contracted in July for the first time in three months after the preliminary purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell to 49.2 from 50.0 in June, au Jibun Bank said on Wednesday. A PMI reading above 50 indicates expansion while a lower number denotes contraction. This decline signals a marginal deterioration in Japanese manufacturing business conditions in June, attributed to a reduction in both output and new orders, au Jibun Bank said in a statement on Wednesday. The fall in new orders was the most significant since February. Despite an increase in employment levels, sustained declines in new orders resulted in spare capacity within the sector, and backlogs of work decreased at the sharpest rate in four months. Input cost inflation remained high in July, accelerating to its fastest pace since April 2023. Japanese consumer inflation rose in June, putting pressure on the Bank of Japan to raise interest rates further, official data showed on 19 July. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) in March hiked interest rates for the first time in 17 years, ending eight years of negative interest rates. The BOJ expects that the recent rise in energy prices and the phased removal of government subsidies designed to control inflation will likely accelerate the consumer price index (CPI) increase throughout the fiscal year 2025, offsetting the fading impact of previous import cost increases on consumer prices. Core inflation excluding fresh food, the BOJ's preferred measure, accelerated to 2.6% in June from 2.5% in May and from 2.2% in April. "Going forward, the government plans to renew energy subsidy programmes from August to October to counteract the heatwave during the summertime," Dutch banking and financial services firm ING said in a statement. "This could lower the overall inflation figure, but as it is temporary, the Bank of Japan is not expected to be too concerned."


BHP surpasses halfway mark for stage 1 of Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Mining major BHP announced the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan has reached a pivotal milestone with construction having surpassed the 50% completion mark for stage 1, with stage 2 now underway. The company said the project should have first production in 2026 with it holding the potential to become a major source by the end of this decade as it could eventually increase Jansen’s total output to 16-17 million tonnes/year of muriate of potash (MOP). BHP total investment in Jansen is approximately Canadian dollars (C$) 14 billion ($10.2 billion) with the firm saying this marks the largest investment in its history, as well as the largest private investment in Saskatchewan. Having crossed the halfway mark, the focus now shifts towards the completion of the mill building and processing plant, port construction, finalizing infrastructure and gearing up to handover the project to operations. The company said efforts are also being intensified to prepare the workforce with an operations-ready mindset as the project gets closer to having its first ore. “Reaching the half-way milestone for JS1 is a testament to the dedication of our Team Jansen workforce, our contractors and procurement partners, and the local and Indigenous communities surrounding the Jansen area,” said Karina Gistelinck, BHP asset president potash. “Building one of the largest potash mines in the world requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and the province has really come together to make a project of this magnitude possible. Delivering Jansen safely remains our top priority as we get ready for Jansen operations in 2026.” C$1.00 = $0.73


Australia SO4 has first organic SOP production at Lake Way project

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Salt Lake Potash Limited (SO4) has reached a significant milestone in developing organic sulphate of potash (SOP) in Australia as it has produced its first volumes at its Lake Way project in Wiluna, Western Australia. With the project in development for over seven years, SO4 was acquired by Sev.en Global Investments in October 2022 and it has subsequently made significant investments in all aspects of the production process. This includes the installation of new flotation units in the process plant which has been fundamental to successfully managing the diverse feedstock from the pond network. The process plant remains in the commissioning phase, but officials said the production of SOP after years of effort provides significant proof of the operating ability of the system. “This important step confirms the capability of the SO4 team to conceptualize, design, construct and operate the SOP mining and production facilities and achieve world-class SOP quality parameters,” said Mark Sykes, Sev.en Global Investments, Australian country manager. “We are proud of the entire team, who have demonstrated a high level of commitment and endurance to reach a key milestone.” Sev.en Global said it is looking forward to bringing the project to full production and establishing itself in the market to supply Australian agriculture and global markets with high-quality sustainable fertilizer suitable for use in organic farming.


Brazil chemicals trade deficit down 9% in H1 on lower priced imports

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Brazil’s trade deficit in chemicals narrowed by 9% in H1 2024 to $21.7 billion on the back of lower priced imports entering the country, according to chemicals trade group Abiquim. In the January-June period, Brazil imported $28.8 billion of chemicals, down 7.5% year on year, while exports stood at $7.1 billion, down 4.8%. In H1 2023, the chemicals trade deficit stood at $23.7 billion and, for the full-year, it stood at $47.0 billion, the second highest figure in the past 35 years, according to Abiquim. Although the deficit narrowed, Abiquim was not pleased and linked the improvement to lower priced imports which, it said, continue denting domestic producers' market share. “This apparent improvement in the chemicals trade deficit is directly related to imports with prices 15.3% lower than in the first half of 2023, leveraging purchases of products on the international market at prices largely below the production costs practiced in Brazil,” said the trade group. “These products come mainly from Asian countries, whose competitiveness has been sustained by Russian raw materials purchased at favorable prices due to the war in east Europe.” Abiquim has demanded high import tariffs on several chemicals for the past few months; in an interview with ICIS, its director general Andre Passos said higher tariffs were only one of the three legs of a wider plan to protect domestic producers' market share. In June, Brazil’s chemicals trade unions joined Abiquim to demand higher tariffs. “To show the worrying sings, it is enough to highlight the volume in tonnes of these imports [entering Brazil] in the first half at 27.9 million tonnes, up 9.1% year on year. Highlights include the aggressive increases in thermoplastic resins imports (up 41.2%), thermosetting resins (26.8%), intermediates for thermosetting resins (35.8%), intermediates for synthetic fibers (22.1%) and other organic chemical products (15.2%),” said the trade group. “This scenario is a serious threat to the national production of chemical products and has, above all, deteriorated the level of utilization rates [which stood in May at a record low of 58%]. Some companies are considering hibernating plants, shutdowns, and even deactivation of units.”


India cuts MDI import duty; plans six-month review of overall tariff structure

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–India will cut import duties for methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) by 2.5 percentage points to 5.0% effective 24 July, with plans to review the country's overall tariff structure in the next six months. MDI was among raw materials identified by the Indian government on which custom duties will be reduced. India's finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the changes to the country's Basic Customs Duty (BCD) – a tax levied on imported goods at the time of their entry into the country – in her presentation of India’s national budget for the fiscal year ending March 2025 before parliament. HIGHER DUTIES FOR SOME PRODUCTSConversely, the minister said that the customs duty for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) flex films/flex banners will be raised to 25% from 10% currently starting 24 July, "to curb their imports". Flex banners are commonly used for outdoor advertising as billboards. "PVC flex banners are non-biodegradable and hazardous for environment and health," Sitharaman said. The customs duty on ammonium nitrate will also be raised to 10% from 7.5% from 24 July "to support existing and new capacities in the pipeline", she said. EXEMPTIONS FOR CRITICAL MINERALSSitharaman also proposed full exemption of 25 critical minerals from import duties, a cut in duty rates for two other products in the same category. "Minerals such as lithium, copper, cobalt and rare earth elements are critical for sectors like nuclear energy, renewable energy, space, defense, telecommunications, and high-tech electronics,” she said. “This [cut in import duty] will provide a major fillip to the processing and refining of such minerals and help secure their availability for these strategic and important sectors," Sitharaman said. As for the electronics sector, the finance minister proposed to remove the BCD on oxygen-free copper for the manufacture of resistors. GOV'T TO REVIEW CUSTOMS DUTY STRUCTUREOver the next six months, the Indian government will conduct a thorough review of its customs duty rate structure, Sitharaman said. "I propose to undertake a comprehensive review of the rate structure over the next six months to rationalise and simplify it for ease of trade, removal of duty inversion and reduction of disputes," she said. "We will continue our efforts to simplify taxes, improve taxpayer services, provide tax certainty and reduce litigation while enhancing revenues for funding the development and welfare schemes of the government." It was not immediately clear how the revised BCD structure will impact implementation of import certifications of various chemicals under the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). BIS certification for some chemicals has been extended many times since they were introduced in 2019-20 to allow domestic end-user industries more time to adhere to the quality-control orders (QCO). Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman Thumbnail image: At the Vallarpadam Terminal in Kochi, Kerala, India. 2014 (By Olaf Kruger/imageBROKER/Shutterstock)


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