Latest insight


"Corona crunch" threatens Middle East petchem projects

The potential progress in their current format of more than a dozen key petrochemical projects under consideration in the Middle East and North Africa is now severely threatened by the recent collapse in oil prices and the dramatically altered market dynamics that have quickly followed.


COVID-19 forces Asian petchem producers to take crisis-management measures

The demand shock caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, together with the collapse in oil prices, is challenging chemical makers in APAC. 

Borealis scraps $6.8-billion petchem project in Kazakhstan

Borealis says it will not proceed with the development of a multibillion-dollar integrated ethane cracker and polyethylene (PE) project in Kazakhstan.

Gazprom and partners move forward with multibillion-dollar export-oriented gas-chemical project

Gazprom (Moscow) and its partners are moving ahead with a multibillion-dollar, export-oriented gas-chemical project at Ust Luga, near St Petersburg, Russia.

McDermott, Clariant confirm PDH technology award in Saudi Arabia

McDermott has confirmed that its Lummus Technology Catofin propane dehydrogenation (PDH) process will be used in a previously announced PDH and polypropylene (PP) project at Jubail, Saudi Arabia.

IHS Markit: Base chemicals to lose a full year of demand growth

The collapse in demand from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will set back base chemicals growth by a full year, and will shrink the market in 2020, says Dewey Johnson, vice president/base chemicals at IHS Markit in a recent report and webinar for The Chemical Pulse. This will prolong oversupply in the industry—already a concern before demand sank—through 2022, Johnson says.

Shell and CNOOC ink deal for $5.6-billion, phase 3 petchems complex in China

CNOOC Oil & Petrochemicals Co., a subsidiary of CNOOC (Beijing, China); Shell Nanhai, a Shell subsidiary; and the Huizhou, China, municipal government on Sunday signed a cooperation agreement to expand the CNOOC and Shell Petrochemical Co. (CSPC) 50/50 joint venture (JV) at Daya Bay near Huizhou, Guangdong Province, China, marking the JV’s phase 3 development at the site. 

Asia near-term LPG demand to remain bearish, strong growth by year-end on PDH demand

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) demand in Asia will be weak for much of this year amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and a summer lull, but strong growth could emerge toward the end of the year as new propane dehydrogenation (PDH) capacity in China comes online, trading sources say.

PKN Orlen planning IPA unit at Plock, Poland, as part of phenol expansion

PKN Orlen (Plock, Poland) has purchased a license and basic engineering design package from Badger Licensing for a new isopropyl alcohol (IPA) unit that forms part of a wider program to expand phenol production capacity at PKN Orlen's facility at Plock. The value of the purchase has not been disclosed.

Borealis declares force majeure following fire incident in Sweden
Borealis on 11 May 2020 declared force majeure on its steam cracker operations at Stenungsund, Sweden, following a technical incident that led to the shutdown of the olefins plant. The company has informed the affected customers. Borealis says it does not know when the force majeure will be lifted.
Air Products to build $2-billion coal-to-methanol project in Indonesia

Air Products will invest about $2 billion to build, own, and operate a coal-to-methanol complex in Bengalon, East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Inter Pipeline PDH/PP project costs rise, completion shifted to early 2022

Inter Pipeline (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) says the cost of its Heartland petrochemical complex has risen by $500 million and its completion date may be delayed due to factors that include the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Separately, the company has hired Credit Suisse and TD Securities to find an equity investor for the Redwater, Alberta, complex.

Lotte expects to restart Daesan cracker by end of year

Lotte Chemical expects to resume operations by the end of this year at a naphtha cracker at Daesan, South Korea, that was crippled by an explosion in March. The planned restart is earlier than some industry expectations because the company is able to fix damaged parts, a senior executive says. 

Cracker operators in Asia to cut LPG use in June for third consecutive month

Ethylene plant operators in Asia plan to crack less liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in June for a third consecutive month due to sustained strength in the gas market and steam cracker turnarounds. However, LPG intake may rebound during the summer in the northern hemisphere.

US benzene prices sag on import surge

US benzene prices continued to drift lower this week despite a rebound in downstream styrene and phenolic resin pricing. Spot offers for June-delivery benzene neared the $1/gallon ($299/metric ton) level, even as spot styrene traded up to $500/metric ton ($0.23/pound) free-on-board (FOB) US Gulf Coast.

Feedstocks price decline scrambles cost curve for naphtha crackers in Western Europe

With oil demand in freefall worldwide and depressed crude prices not expected to recover until 2022, Western European naphtha cracker operators look set to continue reaping the rewards of a drastic collapse in feedstock prices, according to IHS Markit experts.

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.

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.

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. 

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.