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Pricing for Chemicals, Fertilizers, and

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ICIS news

Keep up to date, with all the latest news on pricing.

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.”

15-Jul-2024

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.

15-Jul-2024

Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 12 July. Europe ethylene spot prices turn firmer on demand, feedstock, looming cracker turnarounds European ethylene spot prices have firmed week on week on the back of better-than-expected demand amid higher feedstock values and an increasing focus on upcoming planned cracker maintenance outages. Global crude demand slows in Q2, China consumption contracts – IEA Global crude oil demand slumped to 710,000 bbl/day in Q2 2024 as China’s post-pandemic economic rebound ran its course, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday. Storm Beryl damage, economic loss to US estimated at $28-32 billion Total damage and economic loss in the US from Storm Beryl amounted to $28-32 billion, according to meteorology firm AccuWeather. Europe chemicals players expect construction demand to remain sluggish until H1 2025 Chemicals players in Europe do not expect any substantial recovery from the building and construction industry until the first half of 2025 at least. Flooding to continue across central US as Beryl moves inland Flash flooding is expected as Storm Beryl continues to progress across the central US, with blackouts and logistic shutdowns seen in parts of Texas. ‘Life-threatening’ storm surge in Texas as Hurricane Beryl makes US landfall Hurricane Beryl has made landfall in eastern Texas and looks set to batter parts of the state’s key petrochemicals production hubs, with the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) warning of a life-threatening storm surge on Monday.

15-Jul-2024

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.

15-Jul-2024

Asia top stories – weekly summary

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News Asia and the Middle East for the week ended 12 July 2024. OUTLOOK: Asia naphtha market braces for supply uncertainties By Li Peng Seng 12-Jul-24 12:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s naphtha market sentiment is expected to be choppy in the short term due to a lack of clarity on arbitrage supplies against volatile demand. OUTLOOK: Asia EVA market loses shine as demand from PV sector lags By Helen Lee 11-Jul-24 11:25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Demand for ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) from China’s photovoltaic (PV) industry is likely to remain lackluster amid an oversupply in the entire industry chain. PODCAST: China to accelerate hydrogen development via energy law By Patricia Tao 10-Jul-24 11:25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China's recent decision to include hydrogen in its draft national energy law signals a transformative shift in the country's energy landscape. China EV giant BYD to invest $1 billion in Turkey production plant By Nurluqman Suratman 09-Jul-24 15:24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Chinese electric vehicle (EV) giant BYD has agreed to invest $1 billion to set up a manufacturing plant in Turkey which will produce up to 150,000 vehicles per year. PODCAST: Asia recycling market sees increased interest in pyrolysis By Damini Dabholkar 09-Jul-24 11:17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Market players in Asia are increasingly becoming more interested in the use of pyrolysis oil as fuel. OUTLOOK: SE Asia PE to see some demand recovery in H2, challenges persist By Izham Ahmad 09-Jul-24 15:07 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The southeast Asian polyethylene (PE) market is expected to face modest demand recovery in the second half (H2) of the year, but this is likely to be negated by increased supply and the threat of high freight costs affecting import shipments.

15-Jul-2024

July WASDE projecting higher corn production but a decrease in soybean output

HOUSTON (ICIS)–The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is projecting higher corn production but a decrease in soybean output according to the July World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report. In the monthly update corn production for 2024-2025 is forecast up by 240 million bushels on greater planted and harvested area from the June Acreage report, with yield unchanged at 181.0 bushels per acre. The current outlook is also calling for larger supplies, greater domestic use and exports, and slightly lower ending stocks. Corn beginning stocks are lowered 145 million bushels, mostly reflecting a greater use forecast with exports raised by 75 million bushels based on current outstanding sales and shipments to date. Feed and residual use is up 75 million bushels based on indicated disappearance in the June Grain Stocks report. Total use has also been lifted 100 million bushels with increases to both feed and residual use and exports based on larger supplies and lower expected prices. With use rising slightly more than supply, ending stocks are now being projected down by 5 million bushels. The July WASDE revealed that the season-average farm price received by producers is lowered by 10 cents to stand at $4.30 per bushel. For soybeans production is projected at 4.4 billion bushels, which is a decrease of 15 million bushels based on expected lower harvested area. Harvested area, forecast at 85.3 million acres in the June Acreage report, is now down 300,000 acres from last month with the yield forecast unchanged at 52.0 bushels per acre. With slightly lower beginning stocks, reduced production and unchanged use, ending stocks for 2024-2025 are projected at 435 million bushels, which is a decrease of 20 million bushels from the June WASDE. The update showed that the season-average soybean price is forecast at $11.10 per bushel, down 10 cents from last month. The next WASDE report will be released on 12 August.

12-Jul-2024

Europe ethylene spot prices turn firmer on demand, feedstock, looming cracker turnarounds

LONDON (ICIS)–European ethylene spot prices have firmed week on week on the back of better-than-expected demand amid higher feedstock values and an increasing focus on upcoming planned cracker maintenance outages. Spot deals this week have been reported at discounts of 32-35% on the pipeline, prior deals had been at discounts of around 38-39%. Producers say they have received several requests for additional volume offtakes in July. This is being attributed to a combination of factors: Improved sentiment from domestic PVC players following the imposition of tariffs on imports ex-Egypt and the US Continued high container freight rates which are restricting some derivative imports Recent hurricane-related production and logistics disruptions ex-US Firmer month-on-month naphtha values which is likely to drive discussions for the August contract reference price settlement Planned cracker maintenance due to get underway from September particularly that due in Germany with alternative supply flexibility likely to be limited at that time due to pressure issues on the ARG pipeline. With crackers having been run at rates closely aligned with contractual demand – still very much below normal albeit better than in 2023 – there is not too much flexibility for additional volumes at short notice. “Many will have assumed that ethylene supply would always be plentiful,” a source said, “and now they find that it is not the case.” Cracker operators have avoided as far as possible marginal tonne production as spot appetite has been extremely low unless at deep discounts to the prevailing contract price. Crackers are underutilised, so in theory, there is space to ramp up. But with August around the corner and few indications at this stage how long this better-than-expected demand will be sustained, sources assume producers will be reluctant to ramp up production in July. Thumbnail photo: Flooding in Houston, Texas, in the wake of Hurricane Beryl on 8 July 2024, one of the causes of firming ethylene prices. Source: Carlos Ramirez/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

12-Jul-2024

VIDEO: Europe R-PET pellet price range narrows on SUPD-driven demand

LONDON (ICIS)–Senior Editor for Recycling, Matt Tudball, discusses the latest developments in the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market, including, Colourless flake prices rise in Italy Food-grade pellet (FGP) price range narrows on improved demand FGP proactive buyers move to secure volumes ahead of Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) implementation in January

12-Jul-2024

ICIS ANALYSIS: Extreme summer heat in Japan threatens to beat last summer’s record

LNG-to-power demand surges in early July Coal availability improving but remains lower on year Temperatures retreat from peak but high temperatures still expected SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Record-high temperatures have pushed up power demand, which could prompt Japanese power utilities back in the spot market for additional LNG volumes. The weather outlook indicates the hottest temperatures may have passed for now, after peaking at 36C in Tokyo on 8 July. However, high probability of above-average temperatures remains through to the first half of August. A sustained heat wave would like drain LNG storage and trigger restocking demand in the autumn. Preliminary generation data for the first ten days of July indicates higher gas-fired generation compared to last year and relatively sluggish coal dispatch. POWER DEMAND An ongoing heatwave pushed power consumption in the first week of July up by 5% compared to the same period last year and 6% from the 2018-22 average. The increase in demand was even more pronounced in the first half of the current week, at 10% above the 2018-22 average. The current weather forecast shows closer-to-average temperatures in the next few days before pushing higher again later in the month. STORAGE LNG storage for power generation remains relatively stable but fell below 2m tonnes for the first time since April in the week ended 7 July. At 1.98m tonnes, this is down by 0.1m tonnes compared to 9 July 2023, and still in average territory. However, further pressure could increase the need for replacement volumes in late summer and autumn. NUCLEAR Shikoku Electric’s 890MW Ikata 3 is scheduled to go offline for maintenance from 19 July to 30 September. Kansai Electric’s 826MW Takahama 1 and Kyushu Electric’s 890MW Sendai 1 are scheduled to return from maintenance in late August. Nuclear availability is forecast 14% lower on year in August. COAL Coal plant availability has been improving since June but is still likely to fall 1% short in July compared to the same month last year. Tohoku Electric’s 1GW Haramachi 2 is now scheduled to restart on 24 July, five days earlier than previous scheduled.

11-Jul-2024

INSIGHT: Brazil’s new gas deals with Bolivia ‘historic step’ for chemicals – Abiquim

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Earlier this week, the head of Brazil’s chemical producers’ trade group Abiquim accompanied President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during his official visit to Bolivia and returned with deals which could potentially increase and liberalize natural gas supplies to Brazil. The chemicals industry in Brazil consumes around a third of all-natural gas available, according to Abiquim. Prices in the largest Latin American economy, however, are considerably higher than in the US, the other large economy in the Americas. Therefore, natural gas supplies – how to increase them and how to make them more affordable – has been on Abiquim lobbying agenda for some time now. Nearly a year ago, Brazil’s minister for energy and mines, Alexandre Silveira, was the star guest at an Abiquim event presenting a study on how to increase supplies. At the time, Silveira thanked them for the kind invitation but he came to basically say the government had little to do and it should be the private sector leading the effort. Truth be told, Brazil’s cabinet has much to say and much it could do about energy. The rather overwhelming and dominant position of Petrobras – a ministry in all effects, with its CEO always handpicked by whoever is the president – gives the energy major a key role in what Brazil's energy landscape looks like. Its interest in natural gas has always been very limited, injecting the supplies it gets from crude oil production back into the system. However, Abiquim and Petrobras earlier this year signed an agreement to explore joint projects on natural gas supplies. In June, Abiquim said in an interview with ICIS there would be news on that front within weeks, but nothing has been announced yet. One year on since Silveira attend that event in Sao Paulo, it seems industrial trade groups come and go in Brasilia’s corridors of power as they please. The current left-leaning administration and manufacturing companies have a common goal, expressed in different wishes: the former, more and better paid manufacturing jobs to please Lula's Workers Party (PT) core constituency; the latter, higher sales and profits, and improving their competitiveness can be an important part of that. Thus, this week Lula invited to go to Bolivia with him trade groups or associations representing sectors directly affected by Brazil’s high natural gas prices. Among them, Abiquim’s head, Andre Passos, with whom ICIS will publish an interview next week. Never shy in using strong words, Abiquim said the week’s agreements in Bolivia represented a “historic step” for Brazilian chemicals which could come to partly fix its competitiveness problem. “The visit to Bolivia is in line with the objectives of the Gas Para Empregar [Gas for Jobs] program and could represent an immense short-, medium- and long-term opportunity for the natural gas market, with the possibility of even using gas from Argentina through Gasbol [pipeline connecting Bolivia’s fields with Brazil’s south and most industrialized states],” said Abiquim. “Based on the conversations held, it will now be possible to start rounds of negotiations for the contracting of Bolivian and Argentine gas without the participation of Petrobras, which will be essential to increase competition in the gas market, enabling greater liquidity, and even helping to make natural gas from the pre-salt viable.” Abiquim added that Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy was “essential in making this moment a reality” and in helping private players to make progress on being able to directly contract gas in Bolivia. In Brazil, the Ministry for Energy and Petrobras are the two decisive voices in energy policy. Abiquim’s diplomatic words thanking the ministry is just another way of saying they are pleased to see Petrobras losing the nearly full control it has had in issues related to the natural gas supply from Bolivia. This, of course, occurs as Abiquim's largest member and commanding voice is Brazilian polymers major Braskem, of which Petrobras owns 36.1%. A GIANT SEEKING GASBrazil has for several years been importing natural gas from Bolivia, via the pipeline Gasbol, which links the producer’s fields with Brazil’s southern and more industrialized states. Gasbol is the longest natural gas pipeline in South America with 3,150 kilometers (1,960 miles). According to Brazil’s Ministry of Energy and Mines, Bolivia is Brazil's main supplier of natural gas supplying two thirds of its imports. Meanwhile, natural gas represents 86% of Bolivia's exports to Brazil. Regarding natural gas, the trip this week aimed at easing access to that gas for Brazilian private sector players, until now quite constrained in what they could purchase given that natural gas bilateral trade has practically been a state-controlled affair via Petrobras. That was one of Brazil’s delegation legs, led by trade groups such Abiquim, Abrace Energia representing energy consumers, trade group for industrialists in Sao Paulo state FIESP, Abvidro representing the glass sector, and Aspacer and Anfacer, both representing the ceramics industry. Brazil’s minister for energy and mines, Alexandre Silveira, and Petrobras’ new CEO, Magda Chambriad, were also part of the delegation. While the company she now presides over may lose the upper hand in natural gas trade with Bolivia, Chambriad said – according to the Ministry of Energy and Mines’ press office – that the new natural gas production areas in Bolivia are going through the environmental licensing phase and could start up as soon as 2025. “The increase in gas supply to Brazil translates into lower prices in the country,” concluded the ministry. As it normally happens, many of the deals signed this week will be worth only the paper they are written in in some years’ time. However, they could be meaningful if just a few of them were to be implemented: the Bolivian Ministry for Hydrocarbons and Energy, in charge of all areas mentioned so far, published this week as many as 12 press releases on as many agreements. For example, and again related to Brazil’s thirst for natural gas, private companies had conversations about potential imports from Argentina but via the Bolivian Gasbol. MERCOSUR – AND MILEILula went to Bolivia after having visited Paraguay for a summit of Mercosur, the trade bloc formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay and which this year welcomed Bolivia as a member. However, Argentina’s Javier Milei refused to participate in the summit, perhaps for the best. He has insulted Lula so many times and in so colorful manners that it may be hard to try and establish any personal relationship – the two have never met face to face. To make his preferences clear, instead of attending the Mercosur summit, Milei went to Brazil’s state of Santa Catarina for an international event of right-wing and far-right figures. “No political rift will prevent dialogue with our Argentine brothers and sisters,” said Silveira before travelling to the summit, quoted by the public news agency Agencia Brasil. But increasingly more people are wondering what Mercosur’s future will look like. Despite Lula and his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez good intentions when Spain was the holder of the EU’s rotatory presidency in 2023, both leaders were unable to push their sides to conclude the free trade deal between the two blocs, which has been in the making more than 20 years. The financial weekly The Economist also wondered this week about the bloc’s importance, highlighting Milei’s absence. In an opinion-ed article – those without byline which would represent the publication’s view – it said that the host’s rebuffs to Mile for not attending may well fall in deaf ears. “It was an especially pointed snub. Skipping the twice-yearly get-together of the presidents of Mercosur, Milei chose instead to speak to the hard right at a Conservative Political Action Conference in Brazil … The reality is that Mercosur is no longer so important. Even the host, Santiago Peña of Paraguay, admitted that ‘Mercosur is clearly not going through its best moment’,” said the article. “Milei has never formally met Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, whom he slags off as ‘corrupt’ and a ‘communist’ (Brazil’s supreme court quashed Lula’s conviction – and he is a socialist). But political incompatibilities go back further: Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s former leader, and Alberto Fernández, Milei’s Peronist predecessor, similarly shunned each other.” THE FIGURES In 2023, trade flows between Brazil and Bolivia totaled $3.31 billion, with a surplus of $278 million for Brazil, according to official figures. Bolivia was the 35th main destination for exports and the 30th country of origin for Brazilian imports. Brazil was the main destination for Bolivian exports and the second country of origin for its imports. The main products exported by Brazil to Bolivia were those from the steel sector (iron and steel, bars, angles, and profiles, 6.1% of the total), and passenger cars (3.8%). The main products imported by Brazil from Bolivia were natural gas (86%) and chemical fertilizers (4.8%). Insight by Jonathan Lopez

11-Jul-2024

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