Archive for the ‘petrochemicals’ Category

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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Petchem markets uncertain after increase of crude oil volatility

Global crude markets have been highly unstable over the past nine months as market participants wrestle with a deluge of information. That stack of information includes increasing North American production, lower global demand rates, a stronger dollar and a changing OPEC stance. As a result, volatility — historic and implied — is at the highest level in years. The inherent relationship between crude and petrochemical prices is invariably creating more volatility in petrochemical markets, and the higher level of uncertainty will certainly lead to more evaluation of project feasibility.

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China’s olefins future shaped by economics and environmental concerns

The dramatic drop in crude prices over the past year has sent shock waves throughout global markets. Petrochemical markets have also been touched, in some instances in a positive manner, as cheaper crude translates into lower feedstock cost. This analysis looks at a specific sector of the petrochemical market — coal-to-olefins and methanol-to-olefins production — and evaluates how the changing relationship between coal and crude prices is impacting production economics in the largest growing petrochemical market in the world, China.

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Then and now: How prices of key petrochemicals in the US behaved the last time crude was $50/b

With oil prices at lows not seen in more than 5 1/2 years,  the global petrochemical industry finds itself playing memory games as it craves some much-needed guidance regarding price behavior.

Whether you believe past performance is the best indicator of current and future behavior – or the worst – it’s always fun to look back, right?

With that in mind, let’s take a peek at how prices of key petrochemicals in the US behaved in 2009 versus today.

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Energy Economist: Trying to make CO2 have an application, rather than just getting rid of it

CO2 in your mattress? Not a great selling point, but it should be. There is a strong possibility that in the next few years some materials currently derived from fossil fuels will have a growing proportion of CO2 derived from the waste flues of industrial processes embedded within the chemical backbone of the polymers used to make them. This represents one of the first steps in creating a closed and sustainable carbon economy. Ross McCracken, the editor in chief of Platts Energy Economist, looks at that possibility in this month’s selection from that publication.

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