COVID-19 - News digest as of 16.12.2021

1. Crude oil prices rise on consumer demand, inventory declines

MOSCOW (MRC) -- :Oil prices edged higher on Wednesday, rebounding from early losses after US inventory data showed strong consumer demand and as the Federal Reserve said it would end its pandemic-era bond purchases in March to slow rising inflation, reported Reuters. Prices had been pressured most of the day due to ongoing concerns that supply growth will outpace demand next year and worries that COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective against the spreading Omicron variant. Brent crude futures settled up 18 cents, or 0.2%, to USD73.88 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude ended up 14 cents to USD70.87 a barrel. The Federal Reserve said it would end its pandemic-era bond purchases in March and begin raising interest rates as unemployment remains low and inflation has risen.


PE imports to Kazakhstan down by 15% in Jan-Oct 2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Polyethylene (PE) imports into Kazakhstan fell in the first ten months of 2021 by 15% year on year to 131,500 tonnes. At the same time, high density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) accounted for the decrease in shipments, said MRC analysts.

October PE imports to Kazakhstan reached 14,000 tonnes versus 12,100 tonnes a month earlier, Russian producers and Uzbek manufacturer increased their PE shipments to the local market after scheduled shutdowns for maintenance. Overall PE imports totalled 131,500 tonnes in January-October 2021, compared to 154,000 tonnes a year earlier. Purchases of low density polyethylene (LDPE) grew significantly, whereas HDPE and LLDPE imports decreased.

The structure of PE imports by grades looked the following way over the stated period.

October HDPE imports rose to 10,500 tonnes from 9,900 tonnes, Uzbek producers increased their export sales. Overall HDPE imports totalled almost 103,800 tonnes in the first ten months of 2021, down by 19% year on year.

October LDPE imports grew to 2,600 tonnes from 1,300 tonnes a month earlier, a Russian producer raised its shipments to the local market after a turnaround. Overall LDPE imports reached 18,700 tonnes over the stated period, up by 18% year on year.

October LLDPE imports virtually remained at the previous month's level and were slightly over 900 tonnes. Overall LLDPE imports reached 9,000 tonnes in January-October 2021, down by 17% year on year.


MEGlobal nominates ACP for January 2022 at USD850 per tonne

MEGlobal nominates ACP for January 2022 at USD850 per tonne

MOSCOW (MRC) -- MEGlobal has announced its Asian Contract Price (ACP) for monoethylene glycol (MEG) to be shipped in January 2022, according to the company's press release.

Thus, on 14 December, the company said ACP for MEG would be at USD850/MT CFR Asian main ports for arrival in January 2022, down by USD50/tonne from the previous month.

The January 2022 ACP reflects the short term supply/demand situation in the Asian market.

As MRC reported earlier, MEGlobal announced its December ACP for MEG at USD900/MT CFR Asian main ports, down by USD120/tonne from November.

MEG is one of the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

According to ICIS-MRC Price report, next month's contract prices of PET chips are expected to fall down in the Russian domestic market on lower Asian prices, on the basis of which PET prices are calculated for the vast majority of formula customers. However, appreciation of the dollar against the rouble will significantly reduce the amount of the decrease.

MEGlobal is a fully integrated supplier of monoethylene glycol (MEG) and diethylene glycol (DEG), collectively known as ethylene glycol (EG).

PP imports in Kazakhstan increased by 12% in January-October, exports up by 34%

MOSCOW (MRC) - Imports of polypropylene (PP) in Kazakhstan grew to 37,300 tonnes in first ten months of this year, up 12% compared to the same period of 2020. PP exports increased more significantly by 34%, reported MRC analysts.

October PP shipments to Kazakhstan grew to 3,600 tonnes from 4,600 tonnes a month earlier, local converters increased their purchasing of homopolymer PP in Russia. Overall PP imports into the country exceeded 37,300 tonnes in the first ten months of the year, compared to 33,300 tonnes a year earlier.

At the same time, the stable operation of the local producer during this period of time allowed to increase export sales of polypropylene by almost one and a half times. October imports of homopolymer PP and propylene copolymers increased to 2,300 tonnes and 1,300 tonnes, respectively, versus over 3,800 tonnes and 800 tonnes a month earlier, local companies significantly increased their PP purchases in Russia, while purchases of homopolymer PP declined.

Overall imports of homopolymer PP and propylene copolymers reached 26,500 tonnes and 10,800 tons, respectively, in January-October 2020, compared to 26,300 tonnes and 7,000 tonnes a year earlier. The October volume of PP exports from Kazakhstan fell to 800 tonnes against 6,000 tonnes a month earlier, such a significant drop was due to both a scheduled maintenance works of a local producer and a decrease in demand.

Kazakhstan's PP exports over the first ten months increased to 26,500 tonnes, whereas this figure was 19,800 tonnes a year earlier.
About 92% of total exports accounted for Russia.


Ascend to acquire compounding plant in Mexico

Ascend to acquire compounding plant in Mexico

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ascend Performance Materials (Houston, Texas) has announced plans to purchase a compounding facility in San Jose Iturbide, Mexico, growing its global footprint and expanding production capacity for high-performance engineered materials, according to Chemical Engineering.

The purchase agreement includes the assets of DM Color Mexicana, a joint venture between Dainichiseika and Mitsubishi Corp. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.

“We continue to invest in and grow our engineered materials business with a focus on regional production,” said Phil McDivitt, Ascend’s president and CEO. “This acquisition establishes our footprint in Latin America and allows us to produce our world-class materials closer to our global customers.”

Ascend, a fully integrated producer of durable engineered materials, has grown its global production footprint with four acquisitions over the last three years.

As MRC reported earlier, in January 2021, Ascend Performance Materials acquired Eurostar Engineering Plastics (Fosse, France), a compounder with a broad portfolio of flame-retardant (FR) engineered plastics and expertise in halogen-free formulations.

And in June 2020, Ascend acquired the assets of NCM (Changshu) Co. and Tehe Engineering Plastic (Suzhou) Co. located in Changshu Yushan High-tech Industrial Park near Shanghai. Ascend intends to expand the compounding assets at the site and to establish a global research and development center.