Topic Page: Coronavirus, oil price crash – impact on chemicals

Petrochemical shares in the US fell with
falling oil prices. US fuel ethanol prices
continued to soar on high demand. Demand for US
acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) is also
expected to improve now that automakers are
restarting plants.

Shares of petrochemical firms in Asia were
mixed while oil prices declined on Wednesday as
investors worried over a possible second wave
of coronavirus infections as some economies
ease lockdown restrictions.

Malaysia posted a first-quarter GDP growth of
0.7%, the lowest recorded since the third
quarter of 2009, and is looking at a
contraction in economic output in the second
quarter due to a prolonged lockdown.

The Philippine economy is forecast to contract
by 2.0-3.4% in 2020 as  economic toll from
the pandemic is estimated to be as high as
$40bn, which is equivalent to 9.4% of GDP.

On this topic page we analyse the
impact of coronavirus and the oil price
collapse on chemical markets and bring together
the latest news reported by ICIS. To visit the
ICIS energy markets topic page, click

Scroll down to see the latest
interactive graphics, podcasts and

to register for regular updates to
help you navigate these challenging


US fuel ethanol spot prices widen as
inventories fall, demand

By Alex Snodgrass 2020/05/13 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US
fuel ethanol prices widened this week, as fuel
demand continues to rise. The US Department of
Agriculture’s (USDA) outlook for the current
corn crop
is for record high production,
greater exports and larger ending stocks.

PODCAST: NACD President discusses how
the industry is shifting to meet customer needs
amid coronavirus

By Alex Snodgrass 2020/05/13 HOUSTON (ICIS)—As
the coronavirus continues to hamper business,
the president of the National Association of
Chemical Distributors (NACD), Eric Byer,
discusses the impact of the coronavirus and how
the industry is shifting to meet needs and help
the community, as well as the hurdles that

US House reps introduce relief package
that includes biofuels aid

By Alex Snodgrass 2020/05/13 HOUSTON (ICIS)–
Four members of the US House of Representatives
introduced a coronavirus relief package that
includes aid for the biofuels industry.

The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus
Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) includes a
Renewable Fuel Reimbursement Program wherein
the US Department of Agriculture is authorised
to provide 45 cents/gal of qualifying ethanol
produced from 1 January through 1 May 2020.

US Q2 industrial ethanol contracts rise
on booming demand, short

ByAlex Snodgrass 2020/05/13 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US
Q2 industrial ethanol contract prices were
assessed at a increase on Wednesday, amid
booming demand and short supply.

US ABS demand to improve as automakers
restart idled plants

By Adam Yanelli 2020/05/13 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–Demand for US
acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) is poised
to improve now that North American automakers
are restarting idled plants that were shuttered
because of the coronavirus, but lower-priced
imports continue to influence domestic prices.

petchem shares mixed; oil falls amid worries
over second wave of

By Nurluqman
Suratman 2020/05/13 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asian
petrochemical shares were mixed while oil
prices fell on Wednesday as worries about a new
wave of coronavirus infections amid re-opening
of economies continued to weigh on investor

Philippines economy to
contract 2.0-3.4% in 2020 amid

By Pearl Bantillo
2020/05/13 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The Philippine
economy is expected to contract by 2.0-3.4%
this year, reversing a 6.0% growth in 2019, as
the economic toll from the coronavirus pandemic
could be as high as peso (Ps) 2.0tr
The cost of the pandemic on the southeast Asian
economy is expected to be about 9.4% of 2020

Malaysia’s economy set to
contract after 0.7% expansion in

By Nurluqman Suratman
2020/05/13 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Malaysia’s economy
is expected to contract in the second quarter
after growing by 0.7% year on year in first
three months of 2020, reflecting the longer
duration of coronavirus containment measures
both globally and domestically.

The slowdown in the first quarter also sharply
reverses the 3.6% year-on-year expansion in the
fourth quarter of 2019, Bank Negara Malaysia
said in a statement.

US chem shares
fall despite rally in oil

By: Juhi Varma 2020/05/12 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–US-listed shares of chemical companies
fell on Tuesday despite a rise in oil prices
amid Saudi Arabia’s decision to exercise deeper
production cuts.

US jet fuel
recovery uncertain as demand hits unprecedented

By: Alex Snodgrass 2020/05/12 HOUSTON (ICIS)–
US jet fuel demand is facing an uncertain
recovery as the coronavirus has halted
passenger demand around the world and
passengers remain hesitant to fly until a
vaccine is made, resulting in less travellers
and sending financial pain to the airline

Q2 will see worst
impact on liquid fuels, effects will dissipate
over next 18 months – EIA

By: Juhi Varma 2020/05/12 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–Reduced economic activity due to the
coronavirus has significantly altered supply
and demand patterns, with crude prices at their
lowest levels in 20 years, the US Energy
Information Administration said in its latest
short-term energy outlook on Tuesday.

North America,
EMEA chemicals average earnings could fall 20%
in 2020 – Moody’s

By: Tom Brown 2020/05/12 LONDON
(ICIS)–Average chemicals sector earnings in
North America and Europe, the Middle East and
Africa (EMEA) could fall by around a fifth year
on year in 2020 as a result of coronavirus
disruption and the severe downturn expected for
May and June, according to US ratings agency
Moody’s on Tuesday.

The financial results season for the first
quarter has revealed that demand for many
producers in the two regions held up relatively
well in the first quarter despite disruption in
Asia Pacific at the start of the year and
widespread lockdown measures in home markets in

The downturn projected by Moody’s for the next
two months is likely to be most keenly felt by
commodity chemicals and producers of plastics
for industrial applications, with capacity
utilisation reductions or idled facilities
expected to reduce excess supply and inventory

Poland’s Orlen
purchases IPA licence and basic

By: Will Conroy 2020/05/12 LONDON
(ICIS)–Poland’s PKN Orlen said on Tuesday it
has purchased a licence and basic design from
Badger Licensing for an isopropanol (IPA)

If Orlen decides to go ahead with the
construction of the installation it would
become only the fifth company in the world to
boast innovative IPA production technology, it

Applications in the packaging, medical and
hygiene sectors – including for hand sanitizers
– have seen strong demand for IPA amid the
coronavirus pandemic, which has taken its price
to a record high.

Europe PE margins
drop week on week on higher feedstock

By: Miguel Rodriguez Fernandez
2020/05/12 LONDON (ICIS)–European plants
producing polyethylene (PE) have seen their
margins fall week on week due to higher
feedstock costs, ICIS margin analysis showed on

In the week to 8 May:

– Naphtha values rose by more than 32%

– LPG values increased by 13%

High density polyethylene (HDPE) contract
margins fell by more than 19%, co-product
credits rose slightly:

LPG-based HDPE
contract margins fell by 14%.

Low density polyethylene (LDPE) contract
margins dropped by 14%, co-product credits
increased slightly:

LPG-based LDPE
contract margins fell by nearly 9%.

Europe naphtha
prices rebound on Asia demand pull, crude but
glut looms large

By: Shruti Salwan 2020/05/12
LONDON(ICIS)–European naphtha spot prices have
revived from April lows on the back of
improving crude oil futures, falling refinery
run rates, certain demand pull from Asia, and
feedstock economics favouring consumption rates
at crackers.

However, price downward pressure persists as
deals are being concluded at double-digit
discounts for early June deliveries amid
ongoing supply glut and limited demand.

That pressure was felt on Monday, with spot
prices closing at $208/tonne CIF (cost,
insurance, freight) NWE (northwest Europe) for
H1 June deliveries, down from last week’s close
at $214-215/tonne CIF NWE.

China to waive additional tariff on 79 US

By Fanny Zhang 2020/05/12 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–China’s Finance Ministry announced on
Tuesday that it would exempt retaliatory
tariffs imposed in the trade war on 79 US
products for one year from 19 May 2020.

Importers can apply for refunding on tariffs
already paid.

Asia petchem shares tumble on virus fears; oil
up on Saudi output cut

By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/05/12 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asian petrochemical shares fell on
Tuesday on fears over a second wave of
coronavirus infections, while oil prices rose
on Saudi Arabia’s surprise announcement of a
further cut in production.

Spikes in coronavirus cases in China and South
Korea after easing restrictions on people
movement, are weighing on investor sentiment.

US chemical stocks fall on crude oil
weakness despite new cut from Saudi

By Joseph Chang 2020/05/11 NEW YORK
(ICIS)–US-listed chemical stocks mostly
declined further than the broader market, which
was largely flat, on crude oil weakness.

Brent crude oil prices declined $1.37/bbl, or
4.4%, to $29.60/bbl while WTI prices fell
$0.60, or 2.4%, to $24.14/bbl. This came
despite Saudi Arabia’s announcement it would
cut oil production by another 1m bbl/day
starting on 1 June.

petrochemical shares gain on easing lockdowns;
oil falls on oversupply

Nurluqman Suratman 2020/05/11 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asian petrochemical shares opened the
week mostly higher on Monday as
coronavirus-related restrictions continued to
ease across the region, while oil prices fell
amid a persistent glut in supply.

Arabia to triple VAT rate to 15% from July amid

By Pearl Bantillo
2020/05/11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi Arabia will
hike its value-added tax (VAT) rate to 15% from
5% starting July to shore up revenues hit by
the recent plunge in crude oil prices, while
rationalizing expenditures amid the coronavirus

The country, which is the world’s biggest
exporter of crude oil, will also discontinue
granting cost-of-living allowance from June,
according to state-owned Saudi Press Agency

HDPE pipe prices rise on robust demand, tight

By Lucy Shuai
2020/05/11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–High-density
polyethylene (HDPE) pipe prices in China have
gained ground, finding support from peak
consumption season as downstream construction
activities resume during warmer weather, and
tight supply.

Major domestic producer PetroChina hiked its
offers in north China on 11 May for PE pipe
natural colour HDPE100 to yuan (CNY)
8,300/tonne. Its offers are up by CNY800/tonne
($113/tonne) from 24 April after four rounds of
price increase.

US IPA prices see modest price declines
as supply increases

By Deniz Koray 2020/05/08 HOUSTON (ICIS)–
While demand for isopropanol (IPA) continues to
be strong due to surging demand for hand
sanitizers, prices are starting to come down
from previous highs.

INSIGHT: US sulphuric acid yet to feel
supply squeeze despite lower

By Annalise Porter 2020/05/08 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–The US sulphuric acid market has
remained mostly balanced despite a chaotic time
due to the coronavirus pandemic and despite
feedstock constraints and varying demand
requirements throughout the region.

Michigan reopening prompts firm dates
for Big 3 automaker restarts

By Amanda Hay 2020/05/08 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US
automakers firmed restart dates for 18 May as
Michigan announced phased reopening plans
following coronavirus-related shutdowns.

Michigan will allow manufacturing workers,
including the Big 3 automakers, to return to
work as of 11 May, according to an executive
order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed on

petrochemical shares higher; oil gains as
easing lockdowns could boost

By Pearl Bantillo 2020/05/08 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Shares of petrochemical firms in Asia
were trading higher on Friday, tracking gains
in global crude prices on hope that demand
would improve amid easing lockdown measures in
various countries.

Asia IPA takes a turn for the worse; a first
since mid-March

By Yuanlin
Koh 2020/05/08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Isopropanol
(IPA) demand in southeast Asia saw a downturn
for the first time since mid-March, when prices
rose by a whopping 82.6% in the space of seven
weeks amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

US PET demand may be showing first
signs of weakness

By Luly Stephens 2020/05/07 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–Demand for US polyethylene
terephthalate (PET) remains strong, supported
by sustained buying activity from the end-user
segment – mainly at supermarkets via food
packaging, according to many market

construction output slumps in April, sentiment

By: ICIS Editorial 2020/05/07 LONDON
(ICIS)–Output in the chemicals-intensive
construction sector across the eurozone
collapsed in April as coronavirus-led lockdowns
dampened logistics and sentiment, analysts at
IHS Markit said on Thursday.

The Eurozone
Construction PMI index for April fell to 15.1
points, down sharply from the March reading of
33.5 points.

A reading below 50.0 points shows economic

“[The data is] signalling an unprecedented
month-to-month decline in construction activity
across the eurozone,” said the analysts.

Europe IPA prices
ease for the first time in 3

By: Anne-Sophie
Briant-Vaghela 2020/05/07 LONDON
(ICIS)–European isopropanol (IPA) prices fell
at the high end this week pushing the mid-point
price down for the first time in nearly three
months after reaching a historic high on
unprecedented demand.

Downward price
pressure is driven by easing supply issues and
a slight softening of demand.

IPA demand has seen a surge from manufacturers
of hand gel solutions and surface disinfectants
as Europe has taken on the battle against the
COVID-19 pandemic.

INTERVIEW: Chemours TiO2 capacity
expansions to be stretched out on capex cuts –

By Joseph Chang 2020/05/06 NEW YORK
(ICIS)–Chemours will stretch the timing of its
titanium dioxide (TiO2) capacity expansions
toward 2021-2022, as it cuts capital spending
(capex) on growth projects in 2020, said Mark
Vergnano, CEO of Chemours, in an interview with
ICIS on Wednesday.

US Green Plains expects China to stick
to trade agreement, make ethanol

By Alex Snodgrass 2020/05/06 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US
ethanol producer Green Plains said it still
expects China to stick to the first phase of
the US-China trade agreement that requires
ethanol purchases. Green Plains remains
optimistic about China and their role in corn
and ethanol purchases, it said in an investor

US chem shares fall with oil

By Al Greenwood 2020/05/06 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–US-listed shares of chemical companies
fell on Wednesday as oil prices declined.
Prices for petrochemicals tend to rise and fall
with those for oil. In addition, chemical
producers in the US tend to lose their cost
advantage when oil prices fall in relation to
gas-based feedstock.

Europe chems
stocks fall slightly amid grim economic

By Tom Brown 06-May-20 17:31 LONDON
(ICIS)–European chemical stocks fell slightly
on Wednesday amid fresh waves of economic and
sectoral data emerging that indicated the
extent that demand had fallen in April.

Despite company share prices ticking down in
line with general markets, spot trades in
building block chemicals in Europe largely
firmed through the day in spite of economic
data highlighting the near-historic extent of
economic collapse.

Petrochemicals traders in Europe are eyeing the
continuation of easing lockdown measures as an
indicator of gradual improvements in demand.

Global ICIS
Petrochemical Index (IPEX) for April plunges to
November 2003 leve
By: Nigel Davis 2020/05/06 LONDON
(ICIS)–The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX)
plunged in April as the impact of the falling
oil price and coronavirus-driven demand
destruction slammed the sector.

The global index stands at a level last seen in
November 2003 and is just below that in January

Each of the regional components of the global
index fell sharply month on month as
petrochemical and plastic prices fell across
the board. The index charts the largely
contract and average monthly price movements of
a basket of the 12 major petrochemicals and

Click on the headline or scroll up to see a
live IPEX graph.

VIDEO: Europe
R-PET market facing big challenges for

By: Matt Tudball 2020/05/06 LONDON (ICIS)–ICIS
Senior Editor for recycled polyethylene
terephthalate (R-PET) Matt Tudball discusses
the challenges the market is facing during May
and into the summer, including:

– Market split by views over price direction

– Recyclers facing tough business choices
around production

– Unknowns around summer PET demand levels

Click on the headline to see the

Asia petchem shares mixed in cautious
trade, oil higher on demand

By Nurluqman Suratman 06-May-20 11:56 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asian petrochemical shares were mixed
on Wednesday amid lingering worries over trade
tensions between the US and China, while oil
prices rose on optimism that the continued
easing of lockdowns will boost demand. At 03:00
GMT, Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical was up by
more than 1% in Hong Kong, LG Chem slipped by
0.42% in Seoul and Chandra Asri Petrochemical
was down by 1.47% in Jakarta.

Asian naphtha extends gains on crude
oil jump

By Melanie Wee 06-May-20 13:09 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asia naphtha prices extended gains on
Wednesday, bolstered by a jump overnight in
crude oil futures as the ease in lockdowns
lifted sentiment, even as the recovery in
overall demand could be fragile.
Open-specification naphtha prices averaged at
$261.00/tonne CFR (cost and freight) Japan
basis for second-half June delivery at
early-hours session in Asia, climbing by
$15.50/tonne from the previous day’s close and
staying at a seven-week high.

Asia benzene prices up on buoyant crude
oil; demand on the rise

By Clive Ong 06-May-20 13:49 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asia’s benzene market remained on an
uptrend on buoyant crude oil markets, and is
likely to see demand strengthen further in the
near term. With the West Texas Intermediates
(WTI) index surging to above $24/bbl, sentiment
was bullish among benzene players.

US chem stocks rise with oil, general

By Al Greenwood 2020/05/05 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Most
US-listed shares of chemical companies rose on
Tuesday along with oil futures and the general
stock market.

Asia petrochemical shares, oil prices
rise as some economies

By Nurluqman Suratman 05-May-20 12:44 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Shares of petrochemical firms in Asia
and oil prices were higher on Tuesday, tracking
Wall Street gains overnight as more countries
ease lockdown measures to restart their

Asian epoxy resins afloat; demand
outlook still hazy

By Ai Teng Lim 05-May-20 09:54 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Discussions for Asian export of epoxy
resins were range-bound this week, but spot
trade liquidity may remain low until
coronavirus containment measures in the region
are fully lifted. Some May shipment cargoes
changed hands at $2,100-2,200/tonne FOB
(free-on-board) northeast Asia. Prices are
stable, but transactions were limited to small
parcel lots.

Asia ACN drops to level last seen in
2009; production cuts may lend

By Li Li Chng 05-May-20 11:55 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asia’s acrylonitrile (ACN) prices have
shed close to 40% (actual 39.3%) since the
start of the year, hitting levels last seen in
February 2009. Producers have undertaken
production cuts in recent months as demand was
hit by coronavirus pandemic, and further cuts
in May could help to lend support.

US April ethylene contracts settle at
18-year low on ample supply, soft

By Michael Sims 2020/05/04 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US
April ethylene contracts settled for the
majority of participants at a decrease of 1.25
cents/lb ($28/tonne), as lower spot prices
outweighed higher cash costs amid muted demand.

The settlement puts April contracts at 20.50
cents/lb, down from 21.75 cents/lb in March.

PODCAST: US acrylates show signs of
recovery amid ample supply, mixed

By ICIS Editorial 2020/05/04 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–While the US glacial acrylic acid and
acrylate esters markets face ample supply and
mixed demand, there are some indicators
pointing towards a recovery later in the year.

Senior Editor Larry Terry discusses the markets
and what expectations are in the second half of
the year.

US chem shares fall despite rise in
oil, stock markets

By Al Greenwood 2020/05/04 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Most
US-listed shares of chemical companies fell on
Monday even though the general stock market and
oil futures rose.

Asia petrochemical shares, oil fall on
US-China trade tensions, poor industry

By Nurluqman Suratman 04-May-20 12:05 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asian petrochemical shares and oil
prices fell on Monday on renewed trade tensions
between the US and China, with poor April
manufacturing data across the region also
weighing on investor sentiment. At 03:35 GMT,
LG Chem was down by more than 4% in Seoul,
Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical tumbled more
than 5% in Hong Kong and Formosa Petrochemical
Corp fell by mor

Asia ex-China April industry output
shrinks further on demand

By Nurluqman Suratman 04-May-20 15:58 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)– Manufacturing activities in Asia,
excluding China, deteriorated further in April
amid a severe contraction in domestic and
overseas demand caused by the novel coronavirus
pandemic. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan,
Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines all posted
weaker April purchasing managers’ index (PMI)
numbers from the previous month’s
contractionary readings.

Asia naphtha markets soft; high clean
product freight costs cushion

By Melanie Wee 04-May-20 17:13 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asia naphtha prices softened alongside
global crude oil futures, but pockets of spot
demand and high freight rates owing to squeezed
vessel space availability for the clean product
aided in cushioning sentiment. At the midday
session in Asia, open-specification naphtha
prices for second-half June delivery averaged
at $202.00/tonne CFR (cost and freight) Japan,
down by $15.75/tonne from the previous close on
30 April, with current levels at a one-month

LyondellBasell sees no need to idle
crackers and PE plants, but reducing rates –

By Joseph Chang 2020/05/01 NEW YORK
(ICIS)–LyondellBasell does not expect to idle
polyethylene (PE) or upstream cracker capacity
but will reduce operating rates through the
second quarter, its CEO said on Friday.

“We really haven’t seen demand decline to a
level where we would consider idling
polyethylene capacity,” said Bob Patel, CEO of
LyondellBasell, on the company’s Q1 earnings
conference call.

US chem shares fall again amid tough
earnings season

By Al Greenwood 2020/05/01 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–US-listed shares of chemical companies
fell on Friday with the general market as the
latest earnings illustrate the magnitude of the
slowdown caused by the coronavirus.

Butadiene is the
weakest link

By: Will Beacham 2020/05/01 BARCELONA
(ICIS)–Butadiene (BD) has become the weakest
link for cracker operators, as the collapsed
automotive sector drags on demand for key
derivatives such as styrene butadiene rubber
(SBR) for tyre manufacture.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic took hold,
BD had been under pressure following a
multi-year slump in automotive production in
many key markets. This had been triggered by
the US-China trade war which hit consumer
sentiment and slowed the global economy. Fears
about pollution and the “dieselgate” scandal
also contributed.

Then came the
coronavirus restrictions with subsequent
shutdowns of vast swathes of the global
automotive sector. Although some manufacturers
are planning to reopen production in May this
is likely to be at very low operating rates and
may take years to recover fully.

heralds even more disruption and uncertainty
for petrochemicals

By: Nigel Davis 2020/05/01 LONDON
(ICIS)–The impact of the coronavirus lockdowns
on the oil, gas and chemicals industries’
integrated value chains is radically shifting
relationships and profitability.

It is also making planning virtually
impossible, as BASF suggested on Thursday.

The environment around refining and chemical
margins remains challenging, Shell CEO Ben van
Beurden also said this week.

VIDEO: Europe
ethylene, propylene contracts fall again amid
mixed fundamentals

By: Nel Weddle 2020/05/01 LONDON
(ICIS)–Senior Editor for olefins Nel Weddle
recaps the week’s ethylene and propylene news.

– Ethylene, propylene May contract prices in
third consecutive fall

– Ethylene long, propylene more balanced

– Mixed demand picture depending on application

Click on the headline to see the

VIDEO: Outlook
for petrochemical prices, demand in

By: Barbara Ortner 2020/05/01 LONDON
(ICIS)–ICIS Head of Market Reporting, Barbara
Ortner, discusses the factors influencing
petrochemical prices at the start of May.

– Crude prices recover, chemicals down

– Butadiene, ethylene, propylene, paraxylene
prices down

– Dow closures, Shell dividend

Click on the headline to see the

PODCAST: Oleochemicals face soaring
demand and logistics issues due to the

By ICIS Editorial 2020/04/30 HOUSTON (ICIS)–As
oleochemicals are classified as an essential
industry during the coronavirus, demand has
soared as santizing demand rises and there are
supply chain disruptions.

US IPA prices remain relatively stable
as strong demand continues

By Deniz Koray 2020/04/30 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US
isopropanol (IPA) prices remain much higher
than traditional levels, even as supply of
supply is loosening slightly due to a rise in
Asian imports as well as increased domestic

IPA prices delivered (DEL) to the US Gulf are
assessed at 85-215 cents/lb
($1,874-$4740/tonne). Prices are unchanged on
the lower end of the market while down 15
cents/lb ($330/tonne) on the higher end.

US chem shares fall despite oil amid Q1

By Al Greenwood 2020/04/30 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–US-listed shares of many chemical
producers fell on Thursday despite a rise in
oil prices following a busy day for earnings.
Shares of Dow, Olin and Sherwin-Williams fell
after releasing their Q1 earnings results. Olin
fell the most among the US-listed shares which
ICIS follows.

Italian virgin
plastics tax postponement welcomed by industry,
raises questions on recycling

By Matt Tudball 2020/04/30 LONDON (ICIS)–There
have been mixed reactions from players in the
polymers markets to the recently announced
postponement of Italy’s proposed €450/tonne tax
on virgin plastic.

Eurozone Q1 GDP
down nearly 4% on pandemic initial hit in

By Jonathan Lopez 2020/04/30 LONDON (ICIS)–GDP
growth in the eurozone fell 3.8% in
January-March, compared to the fourth quarter
of 2019, due to the coronavirus pandemic,
although its full effect on the economy was not
fully felt until March, EU statistical agency
Eurostat said on Thursday.

fall to low single digit million euros in

By Tom Brown 2020/04/30 LONDON (ICIS)–A
decline in earnings before interest, taxes
(EBIT) and special items to low triple-digit
digit hundreds of millions is the “best-case
scenario” for BASF the second quarter of the
year, with potential for levels to drop to zero
or below, the CEO at the German chemicals major
said on Thursday.

Valero saw strong US ethanol demand
destruction, but sees rebound in

By Alex Snodgrass 2020/04/29 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US
ethanol and refined products producer Valero
said in an investor call that the US ethanol
industry saw significant demand destruction,
with run cuts across the industry.

The company revealed that it has eight plants
shut down and six still running, so they are
running below 50% of total capacity. The
company also said that they expect the industry
to normalise in the future, stating,
“Domestically, we will get going again, and
ethanol will be in the gasoline pool.”

US refiner Valero supports request for
EPA waiver on biofuel

By Alex Snodgrass 2020/04/29 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US
refined products and ethanol producer Valero
supports a request, from five US governors, for
a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
waiver in order to forego the biofuels blending
mandate, as demand for gasoline is weak and
storage is quickly filling. Valero executives
offered their support during an investor
conference call.

US chem shares soar on oil, positive
coronavirus drug results

By Al Greenwood 2020/04/29 HOUSTON (ICIS)–
US-listed shares of chemical companies soared
on Wednesday, with some rising more than 10%,
as oil futures rallied and Gilead Sciences
announced more positive results for its
coronavirus drug.

SE Asia polyols uptake in May likely to
stay soft on tepid demand; pandemic

By Jasmine Khoo 2020/04/29 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Southeast Asia’s polyether polyols spot
demand in May is expected to decline as a
result of lower sales in the Muslim fasting
month of Ramadan as well as extended lockdowns
in various parts of the region to curb the
coronavirus pandemic.

Almost a week long Labour Day holiday in China
is also likely to result in subdued trade.

The sudden upheavals in upstream crude futures
seen in March and April also contributed to
dampened market confidence in polyether polyols

Malaysia eases some output restrictions but PE
demand still weak

By Izham Ahmad 2020/04/29 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Malaysia’s decision to allow some
manufacturing operations to resume full
capacity may not have much impact yet on the
country’s polyethylene (PE) sector because
downstream demand remains generally very weak.

Asian petchem shares mostly up ahead of US Fed
decision; oil prices rise

By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/04/29 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asian petrochemical shares rose on
Wednesday as investors await the US Federal
Reserve’s policy decision while oil prices rose
sharply after US stockpiles grew slower than
expected last week.

VIDEO: China’s acetone prices surge on
bullish IPA, tight supply

By Veronica Zhang 2020/04/29 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Watch industry analyst Yoyo Liu discuss
China’s acetone market which has seen prices
surging following the coronavirus pandemic as
demand for isopropanol (IPA) grew.

VIDEO: Low oil prices deal second blow
to US economy

By Lucas Hall 2020/04/28 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Watch
Deputy News Editor, Al Greenwood, discuss the
impact of low oil prices on the US economy and
how this impacts US petrochemical markets.

US chem shares jump, beating general
market, crude

By Al Greenwood 2020/04/28 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–US-listed shares of chemical companies
rose on Tuesday, outperforming both the general
stock market and oil prices.

The exceptions were US-based acetyls producer
Celanese and US-based paints and coatings
producer PPG. Stocks for both companies fell
after they released their first-quarter

ethanol spikes to record levels as chemical
tankers store petroleum

By Will Beacham 2020/04/28 BARCELONA
(ICIS)–Europe ethanol prices have spiked to
record levels while chemical tankers are being
used to store low-priced petroleum products.

Listen to this podcast interview with Clare
Pennington who covers ethanol and shipping for

Click on the headline or scroll up to
access the podcast.

Europe PU
feedstocks tumble as pandemic wipes out April

By: Fergus Jensen 2020/04/28 LONDON
(ICIS)–Polyurethane (PU) feedstocks fell to
fresh multi-year lows in April, reversing March
gains as the coronavirus pandemic forced
factory closures that led to widespread
isocyanates and polyols order cancellations and
postponements, and increased downward pressure
on the industry.

Polyols, toluene diisocyanate (TDI), crude
methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) and pure
MDI April contracts were assessed with up to
triple-digit discounts in some cases as demand
has largely evaporated and most foam producers
are currently closed. The industry anticipates
upstream feedstocks to come under further
pressure following dramatic declines in crude
oil prices.

Asian petchem shares
mostly lower amid fresh rout in oil

By Nurluqman Suratman 28-Apr-20 12:05 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asian petrochemical shares were mostly
lower on Tuesday while oil prices extended
losses as worries over global oversupply
continue to mount amid a shortage of storage

Asia DEG market outlook remains
downbeat amid ample supply, demand

By Judith Wang 28-Apr-20 11:13 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asia diethylene glycol (DEG) market
outlook is poised to remain downbeat in the
near term as ample supply and  demand
slowdown amid coronavirus pandemic weighs on
market sentiment. DEG is a byproduct in
monoethylene glycol (MEG) production, and is
mainly used in the manufacturing of saturated
and unsaturated polyester resins,
polyurethanes, and plasticizers.

Asia benzene falls on crude oil
decline, volatility to

By Clive Ong 28-Apr-20 15:28 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asia’s benzene market fell below
$300/tonne FOB (free on board) Korea this week,
in continued volatile trading. Market
participants expect benzene to remain volatile
in the near term, given its responsiveness to
crude oil.

US chem shares rise sharply, break from
oil prices

By Al Greenwood 2020/04/27 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–US-listed shares of chemical companies
rose sharply on Monday, breaking from the drop
in oil prices as the prospects grow that the
country will re-open following the coronavirus
(Covid-19). In the previous sessions, chemicals
shares and oil prices moved in tandem. Brent
futures for June delivery settled at
$19.99/bbl, down from $21.44/bbl.

chemicals could lose out to China after

By: Will Beacham 2020/04/27 BARCELONA
(ICIS)–The US chemical industry could lose
against a stronger Chinese sector in the
aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

– China challenges US in 2025 petrochemicals

– US outside of new trading zone dominated by

– US loses access to developing world for
polyethylene (PE)

– Low crude oil prices mean no ethane advantage

– Collapsed chemical prices hint at structural

Click on the headline or scroll down to
hear the podcast.

Europe PTA, PET
benefit from lockdowns but threat from fragile
economies looms large

By Caroline Murray 2020/04/27 LONDON
(ICIS)–There has been a pull on purified
terephthalic acid (PTA) from downstream
polyethylene terephthalate (PET) applications
that are considered essential amid the
pandemic, but the tide may be turning despite
imminent peak season.

Continued reliance on food products and water
packaged in PET during lockdowns caused by the
coronavirus pandemic has placed the value chain
in one of the essential sectors that have kept

However, the status of ‘privileged sector’ is
being diffused by crashing upstream prices and
economic turmoil.

Europe petchems
logistics suffer added pressure from Rhine low
water levels

By Morgan Condon 2020/04/27 LONDON
(ICIS)–Lower water levels on the River Rhine
are putting pressure on European petrochemicals
supply chains, adding to the disruption caused
by the coronavirus pandemic.

Costs for transport of petrochemicals increases
when the Rhine’s levels are low because barges
cannot fully load, and companies have to pay
for more barges for the same amount of
product.; the route is the largest waterway for
transport of goods in Germany.

Water levels have declined by around 100cm at
the Kaub measuring point to 115cm as of Monday

EPCA cancels 2020
annual meeting, mulls ‘virtual

By: Jonathan Lopez 2020/04/27 LONDON
(ICIS)–The European Petrochemical Association
(EPCA) 54th annual meeting in October has been
cancelled to avoid “undue risk” of coronavirus
spread, but the trade group is mulling a
virtual format.

EPCA’s annual meeting was due to take place on
4-7 October in Budapest.

In 2019, around 2,500 registered delegates
attended the event in Berlin; however, with the
number of non-registered individuals, who
mostly take part in meetings on the sidelines
of the official programme, attendance is much

Asian petchem shares higher on stimulus
hopes, oil drops on demand

By Nurluqman Suratman 27-Apr-20 12:15 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asian petrochemical shares opened the
week higher on Monday amid hopes of further
stimulus measures while oil prices fell on
lingering worries over the global supply glut.
At 03:10 GMT, Asahi Kasei was up more than 2%
in Tokyo, Lotte Chemical Corp rose by close to
5% in Seoul and Taiwan’s Formosa Petrochemical
Corp was 0.74% higher in Taipei.

China Petrochemical market down again
after short-lived increase

By Yvonne Shi 27-Apr-20 15:48 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Petrochemical prices in China first
rose and later slumped in April tracking the
curve of crude oil futures and as the country
resumed operations after a pandemic-related
lock down. The increase in demand for
polypropylene (pp) fibre that is used in
production of protective masks and some
speculation pushed up PP and the entire
polyolefin sector in the index.

US April PS contracts decline on weaker
feedstocks, slower demand

By Zachary Moore 2020/04/24 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US
polystyrene (PS) contracts for April were
assessed 9 cents/lb ($198/tonne) lower on
plunging upstream costs and weaker demand.

Benzene and styrene feedstock costs are
trending lower on bearish macroeconomic
conditions and plunging crude oil prices.

VIDEO: US naphtha to face sustained
downward pressure amid muted

By Lucas Hall 2020/04/24 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Watch
Markets Reporter, Michael Sims, discuss how low
oil prices and weak demand during the
coronavirus pandemic are weighing on US naphtha

US chem stocks rise as oil recovery

By Al Greenwood 2020/04/24 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–US-listed shares of chemical companies
rose again on Friday as oil futures continued
to recover.

Brent futures rose half a percentage point to
close at $21.44/bbl from $21.33/bbl. West Texas
Intermediate (WTI) rose 2.67% to close at
$16.94/bbl, up from $16.50/bbl. Prices for
plastics and chemicals tend to rise and fall
with those for oil.

Oil collapse
spurs questions over storage limits, operations
for chemicals

By: Will Beacham 2020/04/24 BARCELONA
(ICIS)–With crude oil prices falling to record
lows and storage space running out, there are
questions about how likely it is the chemical
industry could face a similar fate.

Both oil and chemicals markets have faced a
huge drop in demand globally as coronavirus
lockdowns have led to collapsing economic
activity and steep falls in GDP.

Chemical and oil markets are also both
heavily oversupplied with the shale boom making
the US the world’s largest crude oil producer.

Covestro to
resume regular operatio
ns in Germany, VW
restarts plants

By Stefan Baumgarten 2020/04/24 LONDON
(ICIS)–Covestro is preparing to gradually
resume “regular operations” at its plants in
Germany, the chemicals major said on Friday, in
line with federal and state government moves to
ease the coronavirus lockdowns restrictions.

The rate of new infections in Germany has
fallen as the measures taken to contain the
virus showed an “initial effect”, Covestro said
on Friday, citing the latest findings by the
country’s Robert Koch health institute (RKI).

As of Friday, RKI reported just over 150,000
infections in Germany, and 5,321 deaths.

German industry
sentiment at ‘extreme pessimism’ as April
demand collapses

By: Jonathan Lopez 2020/04/24 LONDON
(ICIS)–The European economy’s manufacturing
powerhouse Germany continues to post record
lows in sentiment after April’s demand
collapsed due to generalised lockdowns across
the globe.

On Friday, the influential Ifo sentiment index
for the manufacturing sectors in Germany fell
to lows not seen since 2009, with the research
institute issuing a blunt diagnosis for

“Industrial companies’ current business
situation worsened dramatically. Expectations
are marked by extreme pessimism. The
expectations indicator fell to a historic low.
Demand for industrial products has collapsed,”
it said.

INSIGHT: Asia faces
largely disrupted plastics demand amid
coronavirus pandemic

Felicia Loo 2020/04/24 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Lockdowns. Pandemic. Coronavirus.

These three words, commonplace as they are,
often trigger anxiety in many of us as the
novel coronavirus has robbed over a hundred
thousand lives and confirmed cases topped 2m

Amid such a catastrophe, it begs the question
whether the world is heading towards economic
destruction especially in the wake of crude oil
prices that had been bludgeoned into the
negative territory early this week – an act of
desperation of oil traders imploring buyers to
soak up their surplus bloated barrels.

petrochemical shares mostly lower; crude
extends gains on output cut

By Pearl Bantillo
2020/04/24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Shares of most
petrochemical firms in Asia were trading lower
on Friday, weighed down by deteriorating demand
amid the coronavirus pandemic, despite a
continued rally in crude futures.

Most economies in the world remain in extended
self-isolation to stem transmission of the
deadly contagion, causing a severe demand
crunch. Within Asia, the Philippines announced
on Friday that its lockdown will be prolonged
by another two weeks until 15 May.

PTA supply to continue growing on good margins
despite weak prices

By Winnie
Huang 2020/04/24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s
domestic supply of purified terephthalic acid
(PTA) may continue growing on the back of good
margins amid depressed crude values despite
continued weakness in spot market prices, which
hit a record low on 22 April.

But producers’ inventories have been piling up
amid sluggish demand as most of the world is
under lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic,
hitting demand for downstream textile products.

ADM to idle two US fuel ethanol

By Alex Snodgrass 2020/04/23 HOUSTON (ICIS)–
US fuel ethanol producer is idling two of its
plants in Columbus, Nebraska, and Cedar Rapids,
Iowa, as demand destruction continues in the

Production of fuel ethanol continues to fall,
and is now at 563,000 bbl/day, according to the
Energy Information Administration (EIA).

US chem shares rise as oil futures

By Al Greenwood 2020/04/23 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–US-listed shares of chemical companies
rose for the second day on Thursday as oil
futures rallied again.

Brent futures settled at $21.33/bbl, up 4.7%
from $20.37/bbl on Wednesday. West Texas
Intermediate (WTI) settled at $16.50, up 19.7%
from Wednesday’s $13.78/bbl.

ICIS View: Political appeal distracts
from energy solutions amid crisis in

By Claudia Espinosa 2020/04/23 HOUSTON
(ICIS)–Amid unprecedented energy market
changes, a power market resolution from the
head of Mexico’s Senate energy committee is a
distraction from issues that could worsen as
the administration resorts to resource
nationalism for perceived political gains ahead
of 2021 elections.

Europe chems
stock rally despite brutal economic

By Tom Brown 2020/04/23 LONDON (ICIS)–European
chemicals stocks rose modestly on Thursday
despite the release of economic data
highlighting the extent of demand collapse in
the region in April.

Europe olefins
margins hit by economic downturn but still in
good shape

By  Miguel Rodriguez Fernandez 2020/04/23
LONDON (ICIS)– Cracker margins in Europe have
been dented by the coronavirus-related economic
slump and the oil price crash, although they
still remain at high levels compared to the
margin averages seen in recent years.

consumer confidence hits all-time low, 50% of
companies on short-time work

By Stefan Baumgarten 2020/04/23 LONDON
(ICIS)–Germany’s consumer confidence has
fallen to an all-time low, and about 50% of the
country’s companies have now introduced
short-time work, according to the latest
surveys on coronavirus impacts on Thursday.

Eurozone PMI hits
record lows in April, highlights extent of
economic collapse

By Graeme Paterson 2020/04/23 LONDON
(ICIS)–The eurozone economy suffered an
unprecedented collapse in April as coronavirus
lockdowns continued and global demand
plummeted, analysts said on Thursday.

Asia petchem shares mostly higher amid crude

By Nurluqman Suratman 23-Apr-20 12:16 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asian petrochemical shares were mostly
higher on Thursday, tracking the overnight
rally on Wall Street which also fueled the
rebound in oil prices. At 03:12 GMT, Japan’s
Mitsui Chemicals was up 1.52%, South Korea’s LG
Chem rose by 0.28% and Hong Kong-listed Sinopec
Shanghai Petrochemical Co was up almost 2%.

Asia naphtha rebounds on crude oil
jump; flips to backwardation

By Melanie Wee 23-Apr-20 13:51 SINGAPORE
(ICIS)–Asia naphtha prices rose on the back of
a jump in global crude oil futures, lifting
sentiment as the market flipped to a slight
backwardation where prompt-month prices are
higher than forward months. At early hours
session in Asia, open-specification naphtha
prices averaged at $232.00/tonne CFR (cost and
freight) Japan basis for first-half June
delivery, a $51/tonne spike from the preceding
day’s Asia close, ICIS data shows.


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