2012 Dividend Catalysts For ConocoPhillips

(seekingalpha) -- ConocoPhillips (COP) is aggressively restructuring its business model. The company is expected, by mid 2012, to split into two publicly traded entities. The net effect should provide investors with an increased 2012 dividend.

The company is in the midst of separating the Energy and Production (E&P) unit from the Refining and Marketing unit (R&M).

ConocoPhillips is an international, integrated energy company. As of Dec. 31, 2010, it is the third-largest U.S. integrated energy company, based on market capitalization, as well as proved reserves and production of oil and natural gas, and the largest refiner in the United States. ConocoPhillips is the seventh-largest holder of proved reserves and the fourth-largest refiner worldwide, of nongovernment-controlled companies.
Headquartered in Houston, Texas, ConocoPhillips operates in more than 30 countries.


China PE prices to bottom out in mid Feb on restocking

(ICIS) -- China's polyethylene (PE) prices are expected to bottom out in mid-February on restocking activity following a persistent downtrend, industry sources said on Tuesday.

The prices of different PE grades fell by 2.7-7.5% in the past six weeks on weak demand, according to ICIS.
Restocking demand will be significant because most importers have been keeping low inventory in 2011 as a result of tight credit and weak downstream demand, and some have reduced their December stocks to minimum levels ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday on 22-28 January, local traders said.
PE prices will not fall further in the first quarter because the current prices of the different PE grades are already close to or at cost for naphtha-based PE producers, according to some local traders.
More naphtha-based PE plants will reduce production rates in the first quarter if their margins fall further, they said.

The cash margin of integrated naphtha-based producers was estimated at USD 147/tonne (EUR 113/tonne) for the week ended 16 December, according to ICIS.
A number of PE producers in Taiwan and South Korea have been running their PE plants at reduced rates because of thin margins.

⌠The Chinese economy will be at the tail-end of a down-cycle in 2012. It's expected to improve only in 2013, a Beijing-based trader said in Mandarin.
China's monetary policy is expected to remain tight next year which will in turn curtail the domestic plastics demand, local traders said.


China Petchem Companies may suffer from possible decrease of exports to Europe in 2012

(chemmonitor ) -- Chinese companies may suffer great losses in the following year due to a possible considerable drop in petrochemical deliveries to Europe, Chinese key export market.

A certain exports decrease is currently observed. It came as a result of the continuing debt crisis in the European region.

About 45 percent of polymers obtained by Chinese purchasers annually is converted into other products and forwarded to global end-users, mostly Europe-based ones.


Asia BD may surpass USD3,000/tonne in January

(ICIS) -- Butadiene (BD) prices in Asia may rise above USD 3,000/tonne (EUR 2,310/tonne) in January as traders snap up dwindling stocks ahead of the Lunar New Year, traders and producers said.

Spot offers for January shipments have increased to USD 3,100/tonne FOB (free on board) Korea amid market talk that some Japanese traders have bought cargoes at around this price level.
With intra-regional freight costs at USD 60-80/tonne, this would mean that January shipments would cost USD 3,160-3,180/tonne CFR (cost & freight) northeast (NE) Asia.

In the week ended 23 December, spot prices were at USD 2,800-2,850/tonne CFR NE Asia, according to ICIS.
BD prices in Asia have rebounded sharply since bottoming out at USD 1,550-1,600/tonne CFR NE Asia in the week ended 11 November.

Cracker production cutbacks in China, South Korea and Taiwan, coupled with a surge in pre-Lunar New Year buying have seen BD prices in Asia doubling since the middle of November.
⌠We are getting more enquiries as there is a lot of interest from traders and China buyers to procure material before the Lunar New Year, a Korean supplier said.

China will be closed on 22-28 January for the Lunar New Year festivities.
January will be a short trading month as several countries in Asia including Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam also celebrate the holiday.

However, resistance to the relentless BD price spikes is rising as several downstream styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) and butadiene rubber (BR) producers in China, South Korea and Taiwan have said they will cut the operating rates of their respective plants to 70-80% of capacity in January.
BD is a major feedstock for SBR and BR, the main raw materials used to make tyres for the automotive industry.

The SBR and BR markets are not expected to strengthen for the rest of the first quarter, which is a seasonally a slow demand quarter for the tyre-making industry.
The ongoing eurozone debt crisis and concerns over a global slowdown have also dampened buying sentiment as Asia is a major production centre for the global tyre market.
Many synthetic rubber producers expect demand to weaken after the Lunar New Year, which will in turn dampen demand for BD.


China gets approval for Afghanistan oil exploration bid

(bbc.co.uk) -- China has gained potential access to millions of barrels of oil after it won approval for oil exploration and extraction in Afghanistan.

The country's cabinet approved a deal to allow China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to develop oil blocks in the Amu Darya Basin. The basin is estimated to hold around 87 million barrels of oil.

The deal comes as China is looking to expand its oil resources in wake of a growing domestic demand.

"The Afghan cabinet has ordered mines minister Wahidullah Shahrani to sign an oil exploration contract for Amu Darya with China National Petroleum Corporation," Afghanistan president's office said in a statement.

The state-owned CNPC will carry out the oil exploration and extraction with a local partner, the Watan Group.

CNPC will have to spend a considerable amount of money to explore the basin before it can actually find out about the amount of oil that may exist there.

"It is about five to ten years before they can get a feel of what is under the ground and start commercially producing it," he added.

The approval is a major win for China as it has been looking to invest in resource-rich Afghanistan. However, analysts said that resources is not the only sector that China is looking to invest in.

"The deal is a way of getting a foot inside the door," said Charles Chaw of China Knowledge Consulting.

The ongoing war in Afghanistan has seen its infrastructure and economy being damaged.

Analysts said that as peace returns to the country, it will require a lot of rebuilding activity in order to trigger economic growth in coming years, something that China is keen to tap into.