Asia polymers face more weakness as virus cuts demand
Polymer prices in Asia are coming under further pressure because of a lack of resin demand as the region grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
Polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) prices have steadily declined since the coronavirus outbreak worsened in January, and the search for a bottom continues.
Spot prices of linear low-density PE (LLDPE) film in China fell close to a 12-year low last week, while PP raffia prices slumped to a four-year low.
Argus assessed LLDPE film prices in China at $770-790/t cfr and PP raffia prices at $800-830/t cfr on 19 March.
The coronavirus outbreak is coming under control in China, with locally transmitted cases kept to a minimum in the past few days.
Workers in the petrochemical industry are slowly returning to their jobs and polymer plants in China are increasing production to 80-90pc, after weeks of reduced operations.
Inventories at state-controlled Sinopec and PetroChina edged up to 1.285mn t on 18 March from 1.27mn t a week earlier.
But social activities are being kept to a minimum and the economy is still weak, meaning downstream plastic demand – with the exception of hygienic products – is still slow.
Demand for woven bags, home appliances, construction materials and the packaging sectors in China continues to be heavily hit by the outbreak.
Petrochemical buyers remain deeply concerned about low crude oil prices, given their strong correlation with feedstock ethylene and propylene values.
Front-month Nymex crude futures closed at $23.36/bl yesterday, down by 62pc since the start of this year.
Southeast Asia, India buying weak
No uptick in spot prices is expected in southeast Asia amid a lack of demand in major importing nations such as Indonesia and Vietnam. Argus assessed LLDPE film prices in Vietnam at $800-820/t cfr and PP raffia prices at $880-900/t cfr on 19 March.
Polymers users in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries have started to seek domestic supplies if materials are promptly available at competitive prices. Asean producers were also among the first to offer PE cargoes into the southeast Asian market during the regular restocking cycle this week.
Price spreads between Asean-origin and other international PE offers have narrowed because of bearish sentiment, despite the preferential duty status given to Asean-origin supply. Buyers in southeast Asia have been expecting reductions in polymers prices because of cheaper feedstock naphtha, resulting in cautious transactions. Prices of naphtha hit a new low at $198/t cfr Japan on 23 March, according to Argus data, further weighing on buyers' sentiment.
Sentiment is also poor in India, a key producer and consumer of PE and PP, after the country imposed a lockdown to stem the coronavirus outbreak.
Indian converters are turning to locally produced polymers as the pandemic triggers a sharp drop in the rupee. The rupee was at 76 against the US dollar on 24 March – another all-time low.
The extremely bearish sentiment means Indian spot polymer prices are likely to remain stable-to-soft in the coming weeks, pressured by partial closures across the country.
LLDPE film prices in India were at $800-840/t cfr and PP raffia prices at $890-930/t cfr on 19 March, according to Argus data.
In the past, polymer turnarounds have often led to short-term supply shortages in Asia and almost instantaneous price hikes.
But significant PP and PE disruptions in March failed to exert much upward pressure on spot prices, given the weak demand in Asia.
South Korea's Lotte Chemical shut its 1.1mn t/yr ethylene cracker in Daesan after an explosion in early March.
Lotte Chemical operates 130,000 t/yr low-density PE (LDPE), 290,000 t/yr LLDPE and 500,000 t/yr PP units.
Malaysia's state-owned Petronas is likely to draw on its existing supplies of propylene and ethylene to continue running downstream polymer units after a fire hit its new Pengerang integrated complex on 15 March.
Pengerang, a joint venture between Petronas and Saudi Arabia's state-owned Saudi Aramco, can produce 750,000 t/yr of PE and 900,000 t/yr of PP.
Saudi Arabia's PetroRabigh shut its 700,000 t/yr PP, 600,000 t/yr LLDPE/high-density PE (HDPE) swing, 300,000 t/yr HDPE and 160,000 t/yr LDPE units in late February. The planned shutdown is scheduled to last until late April or early May.
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Fire breaks out at S-Oil's Onsan plant in South Korea
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Indonesia may delay PE, PP import quota enforcement
Indonesia may delay PE, PP import quota enforcement
Singapore, 23 February (Argus) — The Indonesian trade ministry may delay the enforcement of a mandatory quota for polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) imports to Indonesia that was earlier expected to come into effect on 10 March, according to local sources. The enforcement could be delayed by at least three months, based on local associations' appeal requests to the trade ministry, and this may be announced soon, according to market sources. The associations had mostly requested for a grace period to be given to PE and PP importers after the mandate takes effect on 10 March. No official announcements have been made. Local associations including the Indonesian chamber of commerce and industry (Kadin), Indonesian employers association Apindo, Indonesian food and beverage association Gapmmi and several plastics associations including Aphindo, Giatpi and Abofi have opposed or sought delays in the import quota mandate, mainly because of a lack of clarity in the application processes that could affect converters' operations later. International business associations in Indonesia including the Korean chamber of commerce and industry Kocham, American chamber of commerce Amcham and the European chamber of commerce Eurocham have also undertaken similar courses of action. The Indonesian trade ministry on 11 December last year announced that Indonesian PE and PP importers will need to apply for specific quotas to be able to import polymer resins from 10 March this year, or risk their cargoes getting rejected during customs clearance. A surveyor report is also required for resin imports. Importers can only begin their applications from 10 March. Indonesian PE and PP buying interest and prices soared from late December until January, with importers stocking up for cargoes to arrive before the enforcement date. Spot polymer supplies in southeast Asia tightened in January because of unexpectedly higher Indonesian imports, which pushed up regional prices up, although higher feedstock costs also supported the price hikes. The month-to-date average February southeast Asian duty-free LLDPE film price was at $1,065/t cfr southeast Asia, $79/t higher than average prices in December 2023. The month-to-date February average of southeast Asian duty-free PP raffia prices was at $1,040/t cfr southeast Asia, $81/t higher than December 2023's average prices. For a comparison, month-to-date February LLDPE film and PP raffia prices in the key Chinese market were at $935/t and $890/t cfr China respectively, only $7-9/t higher than December 2023's average prices. Imports and domestic buying slows Indonesian PE and PP import discussions have slowed down since early February as most exporters are not able to guarantee cargo arrivals before 10 March. Converters and distributors also experienced a rise in their inventories because of earlier stock-ups. Southeast Asian PE and PP price hikes began slowing down in February because of weaker Indonesian import interest, while regional buyers are unwilling to secure supplies at current high prices, citing persistently weak downstream demand. In the Indonesian domestic market, buying interest has also slowed down, with converters likely holding higher inventories. Downstream PE and PP consumption in Indonesia has likely been high in January-February as converters have raised production of finished goods in anticipation of higher consumption during the recent general election in February and the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holidays in April. But converters are expected to reduce operating rates in March–April during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr holidays in the first half of April. Delay to help importers gain clarity A delay or a grace period would likely allow Indonesian PE and PP importers and converters to achieve more clarity on the application procedures for the quota. Such a delay would also lengthen the time for importers to apply for other licenses that would allow for imports without restrictions, although the application process is stringent and likely only attainable by large-scale converters with good company records, said local sources. Importers that have the Indonesian 'MITA' and 'AEO' import certifications as well as export-oriented converters can currently import polymer resins without applying for a quota. Importers with bonded warehouses could store their resin imports temporarily while they apply for import quotas. PE and PP prices in Indonesia are therefore less likely to soar to the extent that was observed in January, after the mandate takes effect officially, with importers likely able to manage the circumstances better. The stocking up of domestic PP supplies and unplanned cuts in local production have led to domestic prices soaring in Indonesia in the past two months. Import discussions that were halted in February because of tight delivery windows further widened the gap between domestic and import PP prices in the country. But a delay in the import quota enforcement could possibly lead to domestic PP prices falling, especially for the commodity grades and regional PP import prices stabilising when Indonesia resumes imports. Indonesia imported 749,000t of combined LLDPE and HDPE in 2023, more than 45pc of its annual consumption, according to Argus estimates. Import volumes increased by 21pc from 2022. The country also imported 1.25mn t of PP in 2023, around 65pc of its annual PP consumption. But this import volume was lower by 5pc when compared with 2022. By Yee Ying Ang Southeast Asia, China LLDPE prices $/t Southeast Asia, China PP prices $/t Send comments and request more information at firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.
Shell exits Iraqi petchem project
Shell exits Iraqi petchem project
Dubai, 20 February (Argus) — Shell has withdrawn from plans to build a petrochemical plant in Iraq's southern Basra region after nearly 10 years, in a blow to Baghdad's aim of driving foreign investment in its energy sector. The major has pulled out following an "in-depth evaluation on the feasibility" of the Nebras complex. Shell will continue to support the project through its Basrah Gas (BGC) joint venture with the Iraqi government and Japan's Mitsubishi. Shell signed an initial agreement in 2015 to develop the project using BGC's associated gas, but it has stalled. Shell has a 49pc stake in the venture estimated at $8bn. BGC will provide ethane feedstock for the complex from its gas processing facilities, with the associated gas coming from the Rumaila, West Qurna 1 and Zubair oil fields. Send comments and request more information at email@example.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.
Marine fuel global weekly market update
Marine fuel global weekly market update
New York, 20 February (Argus) — A weekly Argus news digest of interest to the conventional and alternative marine fuel markets. To speak to our team about accessing the stories below and access to Argus Marine Fuels , please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternative marine fuels 16 February CMA CGM takes first of 10 LNG-fueled vessels France-based shipping company CMA CGM will take delivery of the first of a series of 10 LNG-fueled container ships this month. 16 February Egypt to load 8-10 more LNG cargoes by end-winter: Eni Egypt could load 8-10 more LNG cargoes "before the end of the winter season", Eni said today. 16 February South Korean refiners opt to co-process biofuels A lack of regional mandates and retreating European demand for hydrotreated biofuels this year has pushed back timelines for new capacity start-ups in Asia-Pacific, driving South Korean refiners to favour co-processing rather than standalone biofuel plants. 15 February WSC proposes fossil-green fuel price gap close The World Shipping Council (WSC) proposed a green balance mechanism to close the price gap between conventional and sustainable marine fuels. 15 February Singapore LNG bunker sales at 5-month high Singapore LNG bunker sales reached a five-month high in January, according to data from Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), driven by competitive prices compared with conventional marine fuel. 15 February Lake Charles Methanol to build $3.2bn low-CO2 plant Lake Charles Methanol II announced plans to build a $3.2bn plant that will produce low-carbon intensity methanol and other chemicals at the Port of Lake Charles. 15 February Singapore LNG bunker sales at 5-month high Singapore LNG bunker sales reached a five-month high in January, according to data from Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), driven by competitive prices compared with conventional marine fuel. 15 February Maritime sector most promising for H2 in transport: HE The maritime sector provides most opportunities for use of hydrogen-based synthetic fuels in the transport sector, according to a survey carried out by industry body Hydrogen Europe. 15 February JBS says its B100 biodiesel has same yield as diesel Global meat producer JBS said that its 100pc biodiesel fuel (B100) — unblended biodiesel — has an energy efficiency equivalent to diesel and emits up to 80pc less carbon dioxide, based on tests on one of its trucks. 15 February Off-spec bio-blends widen pricing spread The range of prices for marine biodiesel blends in Europe has widened as cheaper product that does not meet the region's diesel engine specifications — as defined by the European EN14214 standard — gains market share. 15 February China turns to domestic ammonia output boost Increased domestic production capacity and weaker downstream industrial demand has the potential to weigh on China's ammonia imports this year. 15 February Mabanaft to build green methanol plant in Australia Hamburg-based Mabanaft has received approval to build a new green methanol plant in Port Augusta, located in southern Australia. 14 February Emerging LNG markets to absorb extra supply: Shell Emerging gas markets in China, southeast and south Asia will absorb much of the increase in LNG supply for the rest of this and the next decade, having been constrained by high prices in 2022-23, Shell said in its global LNG outlook, published today. 14 February Avoid offsets, ETS for carbon removals: Study Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) activities should be promoted for the "right reasons" and at the "right scale", and should not be financed through carbon offset credits or included in emissions trading systems (ETS), according to a recent study by the Institute for Responsible Carbon Removal at American University. 14 February Indonesia ammonia production at risk of curtailments Indonesian ammonia producers could be forced to consider production curtailments or outages if southeast Asian loading prices fall much further. 14 February More than 100 US biogas plants to start up in 2024 The American Biogas Council said 96 new biogas projects with a combined production capacity of 66,000 ft³/minute (9.82bn m³/yr) became operational in the US in 2023. 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They are not being supported by domestic demand, which fell to a seven-year low in 2023. 12 February Mabanaft to apply for ammonia import terminal permit German energy trading firm Mabanaft expects to submit a permit application for its planned 1.2mn t/yr ammonia import terminal at Hamburg in the spring of this year. Alternative marine fuels 16 February Fujairah bunker premiums weaken as ships reroute Delivered bunker premiums have fallen in Fujairah, UAE, the world's third largest bunkering centre. Demand has weakened in recent weeks as a result of route diversions, stemming from the tense security situation in the Red Sea. 16 February US Gulf coast fuel oil spreads widest in 11 months Sulphur spreads between US Gulf coast residual fuel oil grades have reached the widest in 11 months, but that could change as refinery turnarounds likely wind down by late February or early March. 16 February Brazil's Paranagua cargo handling rises in January Cargo handling in Brazil's southern Paranagua and Antonina ports increased by 20pc in January from the same month last year, driven by higher exports and imports. 16 February Brazil's Paranagua port seeks to reach net zero by 2035 Brazil's port of Paranagua is working on a decarbonization plan for delivery by the end of 2026 to help it reach net zero balance greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2035 by developing renewable energy sources such as biogas and hydrogen. 16 February Tanker targeted in Red Sea A Panama-flagged tanker was targeted by a missile in the Red Sea today around 72 miles northwest of Mokha, Yemen, according to security firm Ambrey. 16 February Japan's NYK taps demand for chemical tankers Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line) plans to receive six chemical tankers from late 2026 to 2029, in anticipation of potential demand growth for petrochemical products. 15 February Upper Mississippi ice report canceled on warm weather An annual government ice measurement program for shipping on the upper Mississippi River was canceled this year because of unseasonably warm weather. 15 February Scorpio Tankers upbeat on clean tanker rates New York-listed Scorpio Tankers said it expects strong market fundamentals to keep clean tanker freight rates elevated, even if disruptions to trade flows dissipate. 15 February Magellan Corpus Christi terminal doing maintenance US crude and refined products pipeline operator Magellan Midstream reported maintenance at its Corpus Christi, Texas, marine terminal. 15 February ARA oil products stocks increase on weaker demand Independently-held oil product stocks at the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) trading hub hit their highest since mid-August, reaching 5.67mn t in the week to 14 February, according to consultancy Insights Global, as demand in the region slowed down. 15 February Panama Canal freezes customer priority ranking The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) will freeze its customer priority ranking used to secure transit slots while temporary water-saving measures remain in place. 15 February Singapore's oil product stocks inch higher Singapore's overall oil product inventories inched upwards, driven by a surge in middle distillate imports, despite both light and heavy distillate stocks falling close to a 2½ month low, showed latest data from Enterprise Singapore. 14 February Petrobras working to rebuy refinery: CEO Brazil's state-controlled Petrobras is in talks with Abu Dhabi's Mubadala to buy the 300,000 b/d Mataripe refinery back, Petrobras' chief executive Jean Paul Prates said on social media. 14 February HSFO Med/NWE spread reaches near seven-month high High-sulphur bunker fuel in the west Mediterranean moved to its strongest premium to northwest Europe this week as attacks by Houthi rebels squeeze supply. 14 February Vitol can do with Saras what Saras cannot do alone Vitol's takeover of Italian independent refiner Saras, set in motion this week, could turn the latter into a specialised tool within the trading company's diverse business, while giving it a stronger footing to compete with rival Trafigura in Mediterranean oil markets. 14 February South Korea lifts 2023 light distillates output South Korean refiners increased light distillates production in 2023, while gasoil output fell. 13 February BP terminals low on fuel due to Whiting refinery outage BP told wholesale fuel customers it is buying refined products on the market to meet contractual obligations amid the continuing outage of its 435,000 b/d Whiting, Indiana, refinery. 13 February Outages hit Ecuador's 2023 refinery production Ecuador's three oil refineries of Esmeraldas, La Libertad and Shushufindi processed an average 146,235 b/d of crude in 2023, down by 5.3pc compared with the previous year, according to operator state-owned Petroecuador's data. 13 February Japan's bonded marine fuel sales fall in 2023 Japan sold less bonded marine fuel in 2023 compared with a year earlier, pressured by limited supply from domestic refineries owing to a series of disruptions. 12 February Suriname refinery undergoing 7-week turnaround Suriname's state-owned oil company Staatsolie's 15,000 b/d Tout Lui Faut refinery will undergo a seven-week turnaround starting on 16 February, Staatsolie said. 12 February US refiners shrug off dip in earnings US refiners' fourth-quarter financial results so far reveal a dip in earnings from the bumper profits of 2022, but the sector remains on a profitable footing and confident. 12 February India's MRPL plans refinery maintenance in Aug-Sep Indian state-controlled refiner MRPL plans to conduct a maintenance turnaround at one unit of its 311,000 b/d Mangalore refinery for around three weeks during August-September, a top official from the company told Argus. 12 February Atlantic basin diesel faces tight spring European diesel markets could be facing a tight spring as refinery maintenance and disruptions in the Red Sea make resupply difficult and expensive. Send comments and request more information at email@example.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.
Draft EC document supports fuel-exempt mass balance
Draft EC document supports fuel-exempt mass balance
London, 19 February (Argus) — A leaked draft of the European Commission's implementing decision for calculating recycled plastic content in single-use plastic beverage bottles — towards mandatory content requirements — outlines support for the plastic and chemical recycling industry's preferred "fuel-use-exempt" model for mass balance accounting. The draft document sets out the rules for calculating recycled content in plastic beverage bottles for the Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD), which mandates 25pc recycled content in PET bottles from next year and 30pc recycled content in all plastic beverage bottles by 2030. The draft states that recycled content from chemical recycling will be allowed to count towards the recycled content requirements. And where mass balance accounting is used to track the output of chemical recycling through the plastic production chain — such as when pyrolysis oil is blended with fossil-based materials as a steam cracker feedstock — a fuel-use-exempt approach will be permitted. Under a fuel-use-exempt model, processors of pyrolysis oil or another feedstock from chemical recycling would be free to allocate recycled content to their highest value output, equal to the volume of recycled feedstock input minus a certain proportion to account for fuels and residue outputs of the cracking process. A more restrictive "polymer-only" approach, which was also under consideration, would reduce the amount of recycled content "credits" that producers could allocate to their most valuable outputs, by excluding from reallocation the proportion of recycled feedstock used to make chemicals that do not go into polymer production, in addition to fuels and residues. Supporters of chemical recycling have said that this approach would significantly worsen pyrolysis plant economics and stifle development in the industry. According to the draft, mass balance accounting could be applied only at site level, with transfers of recycled content credits between different companies or sites within the same company not permitted. There would also be a need for "chemical traceability", to avoid "overcompensation" and the attribution of recycled content to outputs that can be chemically linked to stemming from post-consumer plastic waste. The implementing decision, if and when adopted, would apply directly in EU countries. The decision should have been adopted by the European Commission before 1 January 2022. An official noted political difficulties holding up work on the law, and another source pointed to a change of position among member states, notably Germany, leading to the commission's latest attempt at a proposal. A meeting of the relevant technical advisory committee, comprised of EU member state experts, could take place later this month allowing for public consultation in March and formal adoption in April. According to the overarching SUPD, approval of the commission's implementing decision would then require a qualified majority in favour of 55pc of EU states, representing 65pc of the bloc's population. Support for a fuel-exempt model will be well received by the plastic and chemical industries. Associations representing the sectors wrote an open letter to the European Commission in March last year calling for this methodology to be implemented. "In our view, a fuel-use exempt model would provide for a robust system, viable with chemical recycling routes, and allow producers and users of recycled content to reach the levels expected by the market and required by EU legislation in a timely manner," the leter said. The letter also called for a decision relating to the SUPD to set a precedent for calculating chemically-recycled content in other regulations that would extend recycled content requirements beyond beverage bottles, such as the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) and the End of Life Vehicle (ELV) regulation, which are currently under discussion. But the commission's position has not met with universal approval. Non-governmental organization Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) said by proposing the inclusion of a fuel-use exempt model for mass balance, the commission had "blatantly" dismissed concerns of greenwashed recycled content claims at product level and disruption of a level playing field. "Should this flawed allocation rule persist, urgent action must be taken to impose a cap on pyrolysis and gasification technologies to prevent their undue advantage over mechanical recycling, perpetuated by the proposed allocation rule," said Lauriane Veillard, ZWE's policy officer for chemicals recycling and plastic-to-fuels. The commission's draft still states that it considers mechanical recycling technologies generally preferable to chemical recycling "provided they can produce recyclates of the required quality, and waste that can be recycled mechanically should generally not enter into chemical recycling". The commission will review the methodologies established in the draft implementation document by 1 January 2030, to take into account technological advances such as the roll-out of chemical recycling to commercial scale. By Dafydd ab Iago and Will Collins Send comments and request more information at firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.