Archive for the ‘petrochemicals’ Category

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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Leave it to $80 crude to shake up US petrochemicals

There’s something about $80/barrel crude that gets petrochemical markets in the US all riled up.

As the energy complex slowly emerges from its latest dip, let’s take a look at how some of these key markets fared over the past two weeks.

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Another big petrochemical project in the US might hit some supply constraints

With the announcement of yet another new cracker project this week — this time, to be built in North Dakota — the US petrochemical industry could be reaching a tipping point in the shale gas revolution.

It’s hard to imagine a time when the US could run out of ethane, particularly in the current environment where ethane rejection is expected to climb as high as 450,000 b/d during the next two years. But the announcement Monday that Badlands NGL’s LLC is planning to produce 1.5 million metric tons of polyethylene per year in North Dakota could cause the country to have an ethane deficit by 2021.

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US shale boom writes a tale of two emerging classes of gas carriers

Growing natural gas liquids production spurred by the US shale gas boom has stoked interest in new classes of ships to move ethane and LPG across oceans: very large ethane carriers and ultra large gas carriers.

The first VLEC orders have been placed and could keep shipyards busy for years, even as more are built to move cheap US ethane to Asia and Europe. But the time for ULGCs is yet to come.

After years of uncertainty because of economics, paltry demand and ballooning supply, the future is looking bright for ethane as appetite emerges in Europe and Asia, and with it the need for longer-haul and larger vessels.

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The possible implications of Russian sanctions on Europe’s polyethylene market

(Hetain Mistry is a member of Platts Petrochemical Analysis team. You can see more of their work by going here.)

In recent months Russia has come under global political pressure due to its current geopolitical conflict with the Ukraine. The Platts Petrochemical Analytics team is looking at whether these pressures, in terms of credit and liquidity for project development, will filter down to the development of planned petrochemical projects.

Platts Petrochemical Analytics lists 25 polyethylene projects forecast to come online in Europe over our outlook period, with capacity on those projects totaling around 7.5 million mt.  The majority of these projects will come onstream in Russia, but there are other projects planned for Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Czech Republic and potentially Uzbekistan. Out of the 7.5 million mt of additional tonnage expected to come onstream in Eastern Europe, Russian projects will account for 77% of the additional capacity.

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Plenty of US ethane still available for crackers

The US petrochemical market has seen a flood of investments over the past few years on the heels of a production boom in unconventional North American hydrocarbons. The flow of capital has been welcomed as it transforms the North American chemical industry; one that was left for dead just five years ago as uncompetitive feedstock prices pushed companies toward consolidation. But, are there still opportunities for those looking for high returns on petrochemical investments? This analysis shows that there are still opportunities in the middle of this US-petrochemical super cycle.

Keep on cracking?

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