Archive for the ‘petrochemicals’ Category

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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Did the US Commerce condensate export rulings mean nothing?

Two US Commerce Department rulings giving a pair of Eagle Ford players legal backing to export processed condensate have been viewed as a dramatic loosening of America’s 40-year ban on crude exports, or at least a sign that long-awaited export policy changes were near.

But what if these private letter rulings really only impact the companies that received them and nothing more?

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Abundant shale production also yields potential supply pinch for aromatics

The US petrochemical industry might be buzzing about all the cheap ethylene it can now make thanks to inexpensive ethane from shale gas plays. And while that certainly is helping position US polymer producers nicely in the global marketplace, there is another side to the shale coin.

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Recent plant closure in Chile underscores opportunities for North American polyethylene makers in the region

The recent closure of a polyethylene plant in Chile highlights why Latin America will be a hot market–and a battlefield–for North American resin producers in the coming years.

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Capitalizing on the Bakken’s NGL supply

The Bakken Shale play is famous for how dramatically it has impacted the global oil market, and it still might not be done.

Capitalizing on the flow of natural gas liquids could be the next big thing in the Bakken, with at least one company already making its plans.

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Shell Chemical woos the neighbors of its still undecided Pa. ethane cracker

Shell’s $4 billion proposal to build a petrochemical complex on the site of the former Horsehead Corp. zinc smelter in Monaca, Pennsylvania, was on display Wednesday at two events at a banquet facility overlooking a golf course near the community, which lies about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

If constructed, Shell’s ethane cracker would feed production of 1.5 million mt/year of ethylene, 500,000 mt/year of gas-phased high density polyethylene, 500,000 mt/year of slurry HDPE, and 500,000 mt/year of linear low density polyethylene. Shell and Horsehead have extended Shell’s option to buy the Horsehead site along the Ohio River three times, most recently in December.

But the details of the proposal were not the main focus of Wednesday’s event. There was no PowerPoint presentation. No Q&A session. No leaflets. And significantly, still no indication that the project had been clearly decided as a “go.”

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