Olin taps Lane to succeed Sutton as CEO

  • : Chemicals
  • 24/02/20

US-based chlor-alkali producer Olin has named LyondellBasell executive vice president Kenneth Lane to succeed Scott Sutton as company chief executive effective next month.

Sutton will step aside on 18 March and will work with Lane for a transition period before leaving the company, Olin said on Monday. In previous discussions with investors, Sutton indicated he plans to depart Olin by the middle of the year.

Sutton also stepped down from Olin's board effective 16 February, with former Dow executive William Weideman appointed to succeed him as chair.

Lane has served as executive vice president of global olefins and polyolefins at LyondellBasell since 2019, including serving as interim chief executive early last year. Lane previously worked at BASF for 13 years

Some Olin customers have wondered whether new leadership at the company will change how the company approaches the market, but no indications of a change in strategy have yet emerged.

Olin has run plants in recent years with a focus on the weaker side of the chlor-alkali market, running operations lower and tightening supply to support price recovery for whichever product, caustic or chlorine, was performing poorly.

Olin has capacity idled at two plants, St. Gabriel, Louisiana and Freeport, Texas, to try and support falling chlorine prices. The two plants combine for about 1mn t/yr of chlorine capacity. Even with the idled capacity, supply has outpaced caustic and chlorine demand, leaving US producers with longer supply levels across the chlor-alkali chain.


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24/04/09

Brazil gum turpentine exports down in 2023

Brazil gum turpentine exports down in 2023

London, 9 April (Argus) — Brazilian gum turpentine exports in 2023 fell 4.2pc year on year to 26,976t as buyers in the US and France reduced purchases amid high stock levels and softer downstream markets. Brazilian gum turpentine exports to the US declined by 61.7pc year on year to 2,440t, from 6,284t in 2022, according to data from Global Trade Tracker (GTT). France, another key market, imported 822t of Brazilian gum turpentine in 2023, a 63pc reduction compared to the 2,217t it had purchased in 2022, GTT data showed. The US was not a significant buyer of South American gum turpentine in 2023 as stocks were elevated and were bought at higher prices in 2022. The supply of crude sulphate turpentine (CST), a competing product, was also ample. France, previously the second largest buyer of South American gum turpentine, has sharply reduced Brazilian imports in the last few years. A key buyer in the aroma chemicals sector has faced softer downstream demand and high inventories, while also closing a terpene resins, wood rosin and gum rosin facility in the US in 2023. With the tightening of pine oleoresin feedstock supply in Brazil in the 2023-24 season, Brazilian gum turpentine availability and inventories have become thinner this year, suppliers said. Brazilian sellers are hopeful that volumes sold into the US will be higher this year compared with the volume the country imported in 2023. Business activity in the US has increased as buyer inventories are lower and Brazilian prices remain competitive compared to 2022 and early 2023 levels. This year, the US has imported a total of 883t in January and February this year, levels not seen since late 2022. According to GTT data, the US is the second largest buyer from Brazil after India for the January-February period this year. As Brazil gum turpentine availability is tighter and US demand into aroma chemicals started to rebound this year, prices for the Brazilian product have increased in recent months. Argus assessed Brazilian Pinus elliottii based gum turpentine spot prices at $2,000-2,100/t fob Brazil port on 1 April, up over 16pc from the $1,650-1,800/t fob Brazil port levels seen on 3 January. Japan, the third largest buyer in 2023, imported 3,126t, up by 21.8pc year-over-year from the 2,565t in 2022. Japanese imports of Brazilian gum turpentine in the first two months of 2024 are stable at 601t, the same level seen in January-February 2023. China was the second largest buyer of Brazilian gum turpentine in 2023. Before and during Covid, Chinese demand dropped sharply with purchases declining from 1,044t in 2021 to a record low of only 480t in 2022. Brazilian exports of gum turpentine to China dropped to almost zero from July 2021 because of competitive pricing from Indonesia and more expensive post-Covid freight rates. But improving shipping economics in 2023 and lower Brazilian gum turpentine pricing enticed Chinese buyers , and imports increased from the record low seen in 2022 to 4,884t in 2023. Chinese imports of Brazilian gum turpentine have been higher so far in 2024, according to Chinese trade data. China imported 620t in January-February this year, an 11pc increase from the same period of 2023. India, the largest buyer from Brazil, bought 12,509t in 2023, a slight decline from the 12,944t it purchased in 2022. With lower pricing for the Brazilian product this year relative to early 2023, Indian volumes in the first two months of 2024 rose to 2,042t from 1,961t in the same period of 2023. Sellers in Brazil believe tighter supply can support firm pricing looking forward, but demand from markets like China and India are largely price driven. By Leonardo Siqueira Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

US adds 303,000 jobs in March, tops estimates


24/04/05
24/04/05

US adds 303,000 jobs in March, tops estimates

Houston, 5 April (Argus) — The US added a more-than-expected 303,000 nonfarm jobs in March and the jobless rate ticked lower, more signs the labor market remains robust in the face of higher borrowing costs. Job gains in March topped analysts' estimates of about 200,000 for the month and followed upward revisions of 22,000 jobs for the prior two months, leaving February gains at 270,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Gains over the prior 12 months averaged 231,000. The unemployment rate fell to 3.8pc in March from 3.9pc the prior month. Futures markets showed about a 53pc probability of rate cuts beginning in June after the report was released, compared with about 66pc odds prior to the report. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell this week reiterated that policymakers needed "greater confidence" inflation was sustainably slowing before beginning to cut the Fed target rate, currently at a 23-year high. Still, he said, most Fed policymakers expected rate cuts to begin "at some point this year." Health care added 72,000 jobs and government added 71,000 jobs. Construction added 39,000 jobs, about double the recent monthly average, while manufacturing was unchanged and mining added 3,000 jobs. Average hourly earnings were up by an annual 4.1pc in March, down from 4.3pc for the year through February and reflecting easing wage pressures as inflation slows. By Bob Willis Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

US factory activity in 1st expansion since Sept 2022


24/04/01
24/04/01

US factory activity in 1st expansion since Sept 2022

Houston, 1 April (Argus) — Economic activity in the US manufacturing sector expanded in March for the time since September 2022, on positive demand and stronger output. The manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 50.3 in March, up from the 47.8 recorded in February, according to the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) monthly survey. The 12-month average was 47.5. Readings above 50 signal growth while those below that level signify contraction. The new orders index rose by 2.2 percentage points to 51.4, while the production index surged 6.2 points to 54.6. The prices index rose by 3.3 points to 55.8 in March. Export orders were unchanged at 51.6, in expansion territory. The suppliers' delivery index edged down to 49.9, signaling slower deliveries, which is typical as the economy improves. The stronger-than-expected PMI survey adds to other recent data, including job growth, consumer spending and stronger-than-initially estimated GDP growth, that shows the economy outperforming expectations. This adds pressure on Federal Reserve policymakers to hold back on beginning to cut borrowing costs after raising them to the highest in 23 years to rein in inflation. "Demand remains at the early stages of recovery, with clear signs of improving conditions," ISM said. "Production execution surged compared to January and February, as panelists' companies reenter expansion. Suppliers continue to have capacity but are showing signs of struggling, due in large part to their raw material supply chains." By Bob Willis Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Baltimore accident starting to strain US caustic


24/03/28
24/03/28

Baltimore accident starting to strain US caustic

Houston, 28 March (Argus) — Caustic soda distributors near Baltimore, Maryland, have started applying a logistics fee to all future deliveries to account for longer truck transits following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge earlier this week. Caustic soda storage the northeast US was already tight before the bridge accident. While market participants have caustic soda tanks outside of Baltimore, several in the region are out of service due to maintenance. Additionally, US Gulf coast producers have struggled to supply tanks in the northeast because of difficulties loading vessels on time. US producers have been stretched thinner on inventory throughout the first quarter due to a variety of unplanned outages, as well as planned maintenance taking longer than anticipated. US producers have been sending more material to the northern US east coast, including by Jones Act vessels, to account for reduced availability out of Europe in recent years. High energy costs in Europe have forced a reduction in operating rates for some time. As US-based supply and logistics have been complicated, a distributor indicated it has a vessel destined for Baltimore in the next few days that is being redirected to other tanks on the east coast. US chlor-alkali producers have announced price increases for caustic soda contracts in April between $35-75/dst. These increases have been announced over the course of several weeks, but may carry additional weight following the bridge collapse. With tighter inventories in the region, even buyers that are skeptical of rising prices are concerned about the ability to fight a price increase at the moment. By Aaron May Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Baltimore bridge collapse could slow US caustic transit


24/03/27
24/03/27

Baltimore bridge collapse could slow US caustic transit

Houston, 27 March (Argus) — The collapse of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge could slow movement of caustic soda in the northeastern US at a time when tank supplies in the region were already tight. Caustic soda distributors have tanks in Baltimore where material can be sourced from both domestic and European producers by truck, rail or ship. In the past US producers have moved caustic soda by ship up the east coast to meet demand in the region, particularly when European producers have had fewer cargoes available. Any threat to supply flow through Baltimore by ship is lessened by the presence of other tanks in the region, including nearby Philadelphia, that can be supplied by overland methods. But even modest complications to logistics for a couple of weeks could put pressure on pricing in the area. The Port of Baltimore closure comes as European chlor-alkali rates have risen to meet greater chlorine demand on the continent, producing more by-product caustic soda as a result that could be sold to the US east coast. Distributors and caustic soda buyers in the northeastern US have warned that inventory levels in the tanks at various sites were getting severely tight during the first quarter before seeing some slight improvement in recent weeks. This dynamic allowed for price increases from distributors to be implemented in the northeast more consistently in the first quarter compared to other parts of the country, where supply and logistics were better. Argus assessed Northeast US prices in March flat between $1,060-1,110/dst ex-tank after prices had risen $25/dst over the previous two months. US caustic soda producers have announced price increases for April and second quarter contracts between $35-75/dst. By Aaron May Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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