Latest insight


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. 

COVID-19: Price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia leads to fastest fall in crude price since 1991

A row between Saudi Arabia and Russia, two of the world’s biggest oil producers, has sparked a price war and sent the price of crude oil tumbling 30% over the weekend, its fastest fall for decades.

Lotte Chemical to defer naphtha purchases, declares force majeure on Daesan petchems

Lotte Chemical (Seoul, South Korea) is looking to cancel or defer naphtha cargoes it bought for March and April delivery after the explosion on 4 March that shut its 1-million metric tons/year (MMt/y) Daesan steam cracker for an indefinite period, says a company spokesman.

Asian petchem makers may cut LPG cracking

Asian petrochemical producers may consume less liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) than originally planned in the coming months as cracking economics shift in favor toward naphtha, market sources say.

OMV to divest assets, reduce investments to help fund Borealis acquisition

OMV (Vienna, Austria) and Mubadala Investment Co. (Abu Dhabi) today signed an agreement that will give OMV a controlling stake in Borealis.

Fundamentals to pull back olefins margin taken from crude plunge

Plunging crude oil prices may provide some immediate margin relief to naphtha-based olefin producers in Europe and Asia, but weak fundamentals mean any gains will be short-lived, while ethane-based producers in the US and Middle East will only see their margins shrink, says Steve Lewandowski, vice president/olefins at IHS Markit.

US olefins prices drop amid crude oil panic

US petrochemical markets were not immune to the sharp sell-off in energy Monday. Ethylene and propylene offers dropped steadily, although activity was thin, and spot market offers for polyethylene (PE) all but disappeared.

Oil price crash, threat of rise in crude production loom over US LPG exports

The collapse in crude oil prices over the weekend has exacerbated challenges facing an already oversupplied liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) market in the US, with the threat of increased oil production by Saudi Arabia and Russia to potentially add millions of barrels of LPG to export markets.

European ethylene margins benefit from lower feedstock prices as crude plunges

Drop in feedstock prices translating into healthy margins for olefin producers in Europe.

COVID-19: PE and PP demand set to surge in China as operations ramp up

Downstream derivatives demand for polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) in China is set to surge in March as the country’s manufacturers continue to ramp up plant operations, although inventories for these products remain at a high level, according to the latest IHS Markit coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) report.

Downside risk for US propylene if crude continues decline

Crude oil and refined product markets rebounded somewhat on Tuesday, but US propylene's comeback was comparatively modest, raising the question: Has the market found a floor?