PP market suffers from a surge in excess production capacity

PP market suffers from a surge in excess production capacity

The PP market has also been suffering from a surge in excess production capacity, said Pooja Jain, associate director at S&P Global Commodity Insights, as per Chemweek.

She noted that while the current PP investment cycle began in 2019, the initial overbuild was relatively modest, totaling around 3 MMt per year (MMt/y) through 2021.

“It wasn’t until 2022 that we started to feel the heat,” said Jain. Demand growth dropped close to zero that year while new capacity surged, and though demand rallied in 2023, more than twice as much new capacity came online, resulting in another 8.5 million metric tons of excess capacity in just two years. “It’s going to take us some time to absorb, and thus, in our estimation, we expect the market to remain long for at least two more years before showing any strong signs of recovery,” Jain said.

Rationalization will be necessary, and S&P Global expects close to 2 million metric tons of capacity to be shut down in 2024, much of it in China. “China has this long tail of very small, old, nonintegrated assets running at suboptimal [rates],” said Jain. “Will that help with prices? Not so much. … Northeast Asia prices have essentially bottomed out, and we don’t expect any strong recovery, at least this year.”

More capacity is on the way. India alone is expected to see a new project commissioned every quarter for the next two years, while China’s PP capacity is forecast to increase by 8 MMt/y over the next two years.

Jain noted that 69% of the PP capacity installed during 2019–27 will be located in China, and of that, 50% will be integrated with propane dehydrogenation units producing feedstock propylene. “Propane is a highly traded commodity with very well-established logistics and trade routes in place,” she said. “Any region that does not possess a significant source of domestic propane can easily import it at economic rates.”

China’s dependence on propane imports does give producers in the Middle East or North America a feedstock cost advantage, but the difference is not as great as that seen in the ethylene chain, Jain said. “Thus, we are seeing more and more polypropylene investment getting closer to the high-demand regions such as Asia and not to where the feedstock is.”

We remind, controversial EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation approaches adoptionControversial EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation approaches adoptionDetails of the provisional agreement on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) have been published, containing a number of wide-ranging elements which will reshape the packaging sector across the next two decades. The regulation is now reaching its final stages but has faced a fraught journey through the various legislative chambers of the EU and has remained divisive among both legislators and the markets.


US DOE unveils USD700m for Gulf Coast clean hydrogen-based chemicals projects

US DOE unveils USD700m for Gulf Coast clean hydrogen-based chemicals projects

Over USD700m of US federal funding is being made available for Gulf Coast-based chemical and refining projects to use clean hydrogen in their operations, as per Hview.

Coming as part of a USD6bn funding package from the US Department of Energy (DOE), four projects have been selected to negotiate funding for their respective plans that hope to clean up chemical production and refining with low-carbon hydrogen.

Backed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), US Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, said the investments would “slash emissions” from hard-to-abate sectors.

ExxonMobil could receive up to USD331.9m of funding for its Baytown Olefins Plant Carbon Reduction Project, which aims to use hydrogen instead of natural gas across high heat-fired equipment using new burner technologies for ethylene production.

The plant is where the energy giant is looking to establish a 900,000 tonne per year blue hydrogen project which is expected to start production in 2028.

Exxon’s Chief Executive Darren Woods reportedly said last week that the project could be scrapped if it wasn’t eligible for IRA production tax credits. However, if the project is successful, once fully implemented, the company expects to cut more than 50% of the existing plant’s emissions.

T.EN Stone & Webster Process Technology has also been invited to negotiate up to USD200m of funding for its Sustainable Ethylene from CO2 Utilisation with Renewable Energy (SECURE) project on the Gulf Coast.

In partnership with LanzaTech, T.EN plans to demonstrate ethanol and ethylene production through a biotech process using captured CO2 and green hydrogen.

Demark’s Orsted has also been selected for up to USD100m for its Star e-Methanol project which plans to use CO2 and clean hydrogen to produce up to 300,000 tonnes of e-methanol per year on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The project is hoped to prove both supply and demand is there for hydrogen-based fuels in the marine and transportation sectors.

Melissa Peterson, Head of Onshore and P2X Americas at Orsted, said the production of e-methanol would be “critical” to achieving “rapid decarbonisation” for the most hard-to-electrify sectors.

BASF will also be negotiating up to USD75m of funding for its Syngas Production from Recycled Chemical Byproduct Streams project in Freeport, Texas.

With plans to recycle liquid by-products into syngas (carbon monoxide and hydrogen) for use as a feedstock at BAFS’ operations using plasma gasification, BASF expects the technology and renewable power could replace natural gas-fired incineration.

Under the same funding package, the DOE earmarked USD1bn for hydrogen-based steel production projects in Mississippi and Ohio.


Chemours names Denise Dignam permanent CEO

Chemours names Denise Dignam permanent CEO

The Chemours Company, a global chemistry company with leading market positions in Titanium Technologies, Thermal & Specialized Solutions, and Advanced Performance Materials, announced the appointment of Denise Dignam, current Interim Chief Executive Officer, to the positions of President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors, said the company.

Ms. Dignam joined Chemours in 2015. She brings over 35 years of experience in the chemical industry where she has held senior roles in business and operations, sales and marketing, commercialization, and supply chain. She had served as Interim Chief Executive Officer since February 2024, and prior to that held the positions of President, Titanium Technologies (TT) segment, and President, Advanced Performance Materials (APM) segment---two businesses that represent over 68% of Chemours’ net sales in 2023. As President of Titanium Technologies, Ms. Dignam stood up the TT Transformation Plan, delivered significant operational savings in 2023, refocused the portfolio to deliver more customer value, and developed process improvements for better resource utilization across the manufacturing circuit. During her tenure on Advanced Performance Materials, she reshaped the portfolio to focus resources on secular growth opportunities in Clean Energy and Advanced Electronics. To further accelerate growth, she drove strategic partnerships and initiatives across the globe, and improved the overall cost structure of the business, laying the foundation for further cost optimization.

Commenting on her appointment, Ms. Dignam said, “I am excited and honored to take on the role of President and CEO. Chemours is defined by its leading chemistries, the customer applications that our chemistries enable, our manufacturing capabilities, and as importantly, our people and core values. Looking ahead I will be focused on strengthening our portfolio with high-value and emerging growth opportunities, and ensuring we are operating as efficiently, effectively, and safely as possible. I am committed to continuing to lead with transparency as we do the hard work required to keep building our businesses for today and into the future. I want to thank our Chemours employees around the world, who are the cornerstone of our success, and our customers and partners for their continued support.”

Dawn Farrell, Chair of the Board of Chemours, added, “Denise has the full support of the Board, and we are pleased to have an experienced and capable executive who is so highly regarded inside and outside Chemours for her track record leading the APM and TT business segments. Denise is a high-caliber leader who has the experience and capability to build value for shareholders while upholding our core values and serving our valued customers.”

We remind, Chemours Company, a global chemistry company with leading market positions in Titanium Technologies, Thermal & Specialized Solutions, and Advanced Performance Materials, announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, selected two of its applications for grants totaling USD60 million.


Solvay completes its inaugural EUR 1.5 bn dual tranche bond issuance

Solvay completes its inaugural EUR 1.5 bn dual tranche bond issuance

Solvay completed the placement of its inaugural bond transaction, which represents another important milestone after the partial demerger of its Specialty Businesses in December 2023, said the company.

“This key transaction strengthens the capital structure of Solvay and gives the company the financial stability to execute its strategy in this new phase of its journey,” said Alexandre Blum, Solvay CFO. “We are particularly pleased with the exceptional participation of more than 250 and 300 investors in the 4-year tranche and the 7.5-year tranche respectively. This contributed to a transaction nearly 6 times oversubscribed, a clear testimony of the continuous support and confidence from institutional investors in Solvay's vision and strategy".

The 4-year €750m bond maturing on April 3rd, 2028, and the 7.5-year €750m bond maturing on Oct 3rd, 2031, will have coupons of 3.875% and 4.250% respectively. Both bonds will be rated BBB- by S&P, matching Solvay's long-term credit rating. Bond settlement is scheduled for April 3, 2024, with trading expected to begin on the Euro MTF market of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange around the same time.

In alignment with its prudent financial policy, the proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes, including the refinancing of the EUR 1.5b bridge facility set up at the end of 2023 in relation to the partial demerger.

BNP Paribas, BofA Securities, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley acted as Global Coordinators for the transaction and as Joint Bookrunners together with Commerzbank, Credit Agricole CIB, ING and KBC Bank.

We remind, Solvay and Carester announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form a strategic partnership, aimed at leveraging the expertise of both companies to pursue manufacturing opportunities within the rare earth industry for the permanent magnets value chain in Europe.


Japan's Idemitsu, Mitsui Chemicals may consolidate ethylene plants in Chiba

Japan's Idemitsu, Mitsui Chemicals may consolidate ethylene plants in Chiba

Japanese oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan, opens new tab and Mitsui Chemicals, opens new tab plan to consolidate their ethylene complexes in Chiba near Tokyo, they said on Wednesday, as the industry is under pressure from competition with China, said Reuters.

The companies would consider closing Idemitsu's Chiba ethylene facility to consolidate production at Mitsui Chemical's site in the 2027 fiscal year. The new business would be operated by a limited liability partnership or a joint venture.

"Japanese ethylene complexes continue to be forced to operate at a low rate due to both the opening of large new additional petrochemical complexes, mainly in China, and the diminishing domestic ethylene demand," the statement said.

The final decision on the proposed consolidation, which should also accelerate the push towards carbon neutrality in the petrochemical sector, is yet to be made, the companies said.

On Monday, Shunichi Kito, president of the Petroleum Association of Japan and Idemitsu Kosan's president, said that the petrochemical sector will need to consolidate to withstand competition from emerging petrochemical complexes in China and the Middle East amid an already tough earnings environment.

Ethylene is a petrochemical that is used to produce plastics such as polyethylene for items such as plastic bags and containers.