Latest insight


Oil price rebound sees petchem cost curve return to more familiar territory

A gradual rebound in oil prices has driven up costs and started to put naphtha cracker margins back under pressure, ending the remarkable phenomenon that saw crackers in Western Europe launched into the top quartile in terms of their worldwide competitiveness, according to IHS Markit.

Resurgence in USGC ethylene exports as Asian arbitrage opportunities emerge

Ethylene exports from the US Gulf Coast (USGC) are recovering from their recent trough as delivered ethylene prices in Asia continue to strengthen amid the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions and the resulting rebound in economic activity driven by China.

Japan March ethylene output at 21-month low amid turnarounds, run cuts

Japan's ethylene production in March slumped to a 21-month low, dented by steam cracker maintenance and as some operators reduced run rates after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) hit petrochemical demand in China in February, leading to lower prices and margins.

Lockdowns, oil crash taking a toll on US ethane exports

US ethane exports are poised to decline in April under pressure from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdowns and naphtha’s new cost advantage.

China PDH units running at full capacity on hopes of PP demand rebound, stock build

Propane dehydrogenation (PDH) units in China are running at full capacity despite a reduction in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) use in steam cracking across northeastern Asia as fabricators look to build polypropylene (PP) inventories on hopes of a quick demand recovery as the nation removes movement restrictions.

WPC 2020: Propylene outlook transformed by COVID-19, crude crash

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the crude oil crash are interacting in complex ways to transform the propylene market, says Carlo Barrasa, executive director/global olefins at IHS Markit. Barrasa spoke Tuesday during a live session of the IHS Markit World Petrochemical Conference 2020 Online.

Petchem makers in Asia to cut LPG cracking in May; naphtha facing weak demand

Petrochemical manufacturers in Asia plan to crack less liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in May for a second straight month, but this is unlikely to provide much support to naphtha consumption with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic denting downstream demand.

WPC 2020: China's downstream value chain to act as partial buffer against COVID-19

The para-xylene (p-xylene) market in China has a longer and more comprehensive value chain than the oil market to help buffer it against demand damage caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, according to IHS Markit’s Fenglei Shi.

WPC 2020: Downcycle with a difference for p-xylene, PTA

The para-xylene (p-xylene) business has changed dramatically in the past year, with almost record-high margins turning sharply negative during the period, particularly in Asia.

WPC 2020: Naphtha—A tale of two markets

The outlook for naphtha as a petrochemical feedstock is “a tale of two markets,” with naphtha facing a short-term period of oversupply and disruption because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and competition from natural gas liquids (NGLs), followed by tighter long-term supply/demand dynamics, according to IHS Markit’s Premasish Das.

WPC 2020: Ethylene overbuild mitigated by operating conditions

Even before the arrival of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), world ethylene production capacity was set to grow far ahead of demand during 2020–22, and now the excess could swell by another 6 million metric tons/year (MMt/y) or more.

WPC 2020: Benzene price to reach historic lows this year

The benzene market was facing several challenges in late 2019 with demand and production growth starting to slow. The global economy was decelerating, sustainability pressures were continuing to grow, production capacity was starting up, and tighter fuel regulations were due to come into force in 2020.


COVID-19: China's petchem plant operating rates recovering, inventories soar

As large petrochemical enterprises in China accelerate their return to normal operations—amid the country’s ongoing recovery from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak—many are being helped by much-improved product margins following last week’s dramatic collapse in crude oil and naphtha prices.

Methanex delays Geismar 3 methanol project by up to 18 months

Methanex (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) said on Wednesday that it was delaying construction on its Geismar 3 methanol project in Louisiana by up to 18 months “in light of the significant uncertainty in the global economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a challenging commodity-price and project-execution environment.”

Benzene prices recover ground in Europe after hitting all-time low

Europe's benzene market had rebounded by 27 March after a frenetic start to the April benzene contract price window following record lows last week when the spot price collapsed to $150/metric ton, the lowest level since June 2006 when IHS Markit began recording daily benzene prices.

US benzene, ethylene reach new lows; propylene rebounds

Spot US benzene prices for April delivery reached 87 cents per gallon (cpg) delivered duty paid (DDP) HTC on Monday, the first dip below the $1 per gallon level so far this year and the lowest price seen since early 2009. Benzene has been beset by weak demand worldwide, and coupled with the slump in crude markets, price support for the commodity has crumbled.

COVID-19: CNPC resumes work on $1.3-billion ethane cracker, PE complex in Xinjiang, China

China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC; Beijing) says that its PetroChina subsidiary has resumed construction on a 9.05-billion renminbi ($1.3 billion) petrochemical project at Korla, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China.

COVID-19: LyondellBasell to slow construction of PO/TBA project

LyondellBasell said on Monday that it has informed engineering and construction contractors it will slow construction of its world-scale propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) project in the US.

Advanced, SK Gas form JV to build $1.8-billion PDH, PP complex in Saudi Arabia

Advanced Petrochemical Co. (Jubail, Saudi Arabia) says that Advanced Global Investment Co. (AGIC) has signed an agreement with SK Gas Petrochemical Pte. (SKGP), a subsidiary of SK Gas (Seoul, South Korea), to form a joint venture (JV) called Advanced Polyolefins Co.

PTTGC, Daelim take step forward on Ohio petchems project

PTT Global Chemical’s (PTTGC; Bangkok) US subsidiary PTTGC America (PTTGCA) says it has agreed an economic development deal with the Ohio Department of Development’s Ohio Enterprise Zone Program, which would provide the long-planned PTTDLM petrochemical project in Mead Township, Belmont County, with a 15-year property tax exemption.

SK Global Chemical to mothball aging Ulsan cracker, EPDM line in refocus

SK Global Chemical (SKGC; Seoul, South Korea) will mothball and potentially scrap an aging naphtha cracker and an ethylene-propylene diene monomer (EPDM) facility as it shifts focus to higher-value products, the company said on Thursday.

Mitsubishi announces ethylene-based MMA project for Gulf Coast

Mitsubishi Chemical says it has begun the design of a 350,000-metric tons/year methyl methacrylate (MMA) plant that will be located on the US Gulf Coast. The specific location of the plant, which is expected to start up in 2025, will be announced during the next few months.

IHS Markit: Tumbling crude price could erase US ethane advantage

Plunging crude oil prices and weakening demand have transformed the forecast for ethylene, driving down the cost of naphtha and narrowing the cost advantage of US ethane.