Archive for the ‘petrochemicals’ Category

Petrochemical implications of easing sanctions on Iran

Earlier this month, the US and its negotiating partners announced steps to move ahead on what is known as “adoption day,” intended to show readiness for sanctions relief for Iran. However, relief will only begin on “implementation day,” the day when the International Atomic Energy Agency certifies that Iran lived up to its commitments according to the nuclear deal completed in July.

According to the US CIA’s The World Factbook, Iran has the world’s second largest supply of conventional natural gas reserves, much of which is rich in ethane. Given that the rest of the Middle Eastern countries are experiencing limited supplies in ethane, this presents a huge opportunity for the Iranian petrochemical sector as sanctions are eased.

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The effects of ethane steam crackers on the blink

The price of oil certainly has some effect on the petrochemical prices throughout the value chain, but supply/demand fundamentals will always be the biggest driver. It is the unplanned outages that create uncertainty, and that was certainly the case this year.

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Canada’s petchem sector looks for expansions on back of domestic feedstock

Prior to the drop in oil prices during the second half of 2014, the shale revolution was putting the US in a position to become less dependent on foreign oil, fueling job creation in the oil and gas industry, and creating a manufacturing renaissance. Many countries attempted to replicate the same success that the US experienced in shale. However, the US and Canada are the only major producers of commercially viable natural gas from shale formations in the world.

While large-scale commercial production of shale gas has not yet been realized in Canada, at least to the degree that the US has attained, many petrochemical companies are exploring the opportunities from the new supply of natural gas liquids derived from shale gas developments in Canada.

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To build, or not to build, that is the question with ethane crackers

The US is experiencing a renaissance in petrochemicals due to the abundance of ethane from shale gas. As a result, we saw many announcements of ethylene capacity expansions and ethane based projects in the US to utilize more of the shale gas based ethane. Why? Ethane based crackers sit low on the ethylene production cost curve.

So what do you do if you are a naphtha cracker high on the cost curve producing in Europe and Asia?

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Friday night lights, provided by petrochemicals

Many athletes, from Pop Warner to the NFL, participate in American football each fall. Petrochemicals play a vital role in the game, from the plastics in the equipment used to play the sport to the artificial turf to the souvenirs and cups used for beverage consumption every game. In honor of the return of football season and the games that will be played across the country tonight, let’s take a look at the plastics that make up the typical football uniform, field, and ball.

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Ineos sends Europe a fracking message about gas; next stop, upstream

As the champagne bottles smashed into the side of the two newly-built ships that in November will bring the first cargo of US shale gas into Europe, billionaire chairman of Ineos Jim Ratcliffe sent a clear message to European lawmakers whose energy policies have stalled his plans to frack for gas in Europe.

Emblazoned down the side of the two freshly-named vessels — the Ineos Insight and Ineos Ingenuity — were the words “Shale Gas for Manufacturing” and “Shale Gas for Chemicals.”

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The changing dynamics of global benzene supply

Benzene is a primary aromatic and the precursor for the C6 value chain, and finds itself at crossroads in relation to the aromatics main outlet of supply. Benzene supply is traditionally dependent on gasoline production out of the refinery and as a co-product of naphtha cracking.

However, massive projections for increased polyethylene terephthalate demand in Asia led to a wave of investments in paraxylene production units and resulted in growth of benzene production as a by-product from these units. Also, with major refinery expansions in the Middle East (especially processing heavier crude, which yields more benzene) and Asia, as well as move to lighter cracking for ethylene production in the US and the Middle East, benzene supply dynamics globally have changed. Benzene is no longer just dictated by the traditional means of supply.

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The dollar’s impact on US polyethylene

The US dollar has fallen sharply over the past few months following an impressive push upward for nearly a year. This reversal has helped propel crude prices upward and, in turn, petrochemical prices — a relationship that occurs because crude and many other commodities are priced in US dollars. A weaker dollar means you need more of them to buy a barrel of crude, a bushel of wheat or a bag of polyethylene.

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New challenges for petrochemical players in China

At the recent Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) held on May 7-8 at Seoul in South Korea, one of the hot topics doing the rounds was China’s march towards self-sufficiency. Will it, delegates asked, put a brake on petrochemical majors’ engagement with the country, which is currently the world’s largest consumer of chemicals?
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Beware the oil slick: US polyethylene prices slip and slide to unexpected levels

For two years, US polyethylene prices climbed higher and higher.

For two years, feedstock prices had little-to-no impact on domestic polyethylene contracts. Upward or downward shifts in domestic demand seemed to have little effect.

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