Petrochemical markets see some support as shutdowns ease

09:44' PM - Saturday, 30/05/2020

Dow Chemical will restart three idled polyethylene plants in Texas and Argentina and two elastomers plants in Louisiana as demand begins to rebound and the company expects economic recovery to take hold in the second half of 2020 as gradual emergence from coronavirus pandemic-related shutdowns continues, Fitterling said this week at a conference.

Braskem disclosed that the company has reduced its Brazilian ethylene output to 65% of capacity and US polypropylene output to 85% of capacity in response to lower demand and inventory effects in the petrochemical and plastics production chain.

PTTCG America said this week it could not confirm PTT Global Chemical CEO Kongkrapan Intarajang's statement to Nation Thailand last week that its final investment decision on a petrochemical complex in southeast Ohio had been pushed back to 2021, but said that decision remains on hold amid fallout from the pandemic.

Connecticut was the first US state to restart plastic container deposit programs this week after suspending operations in mid-March because of the pandemic.

Enterprise Products Partners' new ethylene export terminal in Texas has signed contracts for 95% of its eventual 1 million mt/year capacity, executives from Navigator Gas, the company's 50% partner in the venture, said Friday.

Petrochemical markets in the Americas are showing signs of rebounding as states and countries increasingly emerge from stay-at-home orders and shutdowns, though much of South America remains locked down.

Still, companies are noting gradual signs of demand rising. Dow Chemical CEO Jim Fitterling said this week that with economies beginning to reopen, with automotive and construction industries resuming activity, "that will gradually start increasing demand for some of those essential products. We see signs of strength every week," though they were "gradual."

However, the number of Americans who have sought unemployment benefits has surpassed 40 million, so market sources say there is caution about spending on big-ticket items like homes and vehicles. - Platts -

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