A reduction in operational capacity has helped keep the US petrochemicals market tight, leading to higher prices. However, with capacity coming back onstream in Q416 and new plants due to begin commercial operations in 2017, there is a distinct danger that margins will be threatened by falling product prices. This comes at a time when the ethane-naphtha differential is still narrow and working against ethane-based US petrochemicals, although propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plants and refinery fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) units should continue to prove competitive and provide feedstock for polypropylene production.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC)'s Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) three-month moving average (3mma) index expanded 0.4% m-o-m in September, the seventh successive month of growth. The CAB was up 3.7% y-o-y, compared with 1.6% growth in the previous September. In the first eight months of 2016, year-to-date production was 23.3mn tonnes, a 2.3% y-o-y increase. Production was the same level as sales, which grew 2.5% y-o-y.
Petrochemicals prices were supported in Q216 and Q316 by a series of planned and unplanned outages which took 10% of US ethylene offline. However, prices were expected to fall in Q416 and going into 2017. US ethylene prices will face significant downward pressure in Q416 after a series of planned and unplanned outages supported prices through the summer. With no additional derivative units or export capacity to consume the extra ethylene supply, margins are likely to come under pressure.
Higher prices helped alleviate the problem of the narrowing naphtha-ethane spread, which had been putting pressure on US petrochemicals markets. However, the effects are temporary and US producers will have to look to efficiency savings and potentially bringing forward maintenance turnarounds if the market slackens in 2017. This will ultimately impact on profitability and output.
Sabic and ExxonMobil have announced a joint venture (JV) proposal for a 1.8mn tpa cracker with the likelihood of significant downstream facilities. It is slated for completion in 2021 with construction commencing in 2017, should the partners regard it as commercially viable.
A new polyethylene unit planned as part of a JV between Sasol and Ineos will likely be completed late in 2016, and the next significant wave of new polyethylene capacity is not expected until H217 at the same time new crackers are commissioned.
The focus in coming months will be the planned USD120bn merger of two US chemical giants, Dow Chemical and DuPont. A stalling point is the monopoly position in agrochemicals, which could force divestments in the US. Chinese and European anti-trust regulators are also likely to be a stumbling block. A final decision is expected in 2017, but BMI believes the merger process is likely to be protracted.
The US's Petrochemicals Risk/Reward Index is 90.1 out of 100 this quarter, down 0.2 points since the previous quarter due to the impact on profitability of rising supply from Q416. There is little to challenge the US's lead over the Americas with regards to the opportunities offered by its petrochemicals markets, and the numerous country rewards. Its capacities are set to grow on the back of shale gas exploration, the domestic market's recovery is well underway and the regulatory structure is conducive to investment.
The United States Petrochemicals Report has been researched at source, and features BMI Research's market assessment and independent forecasts for key petrochemicals sub-sectors. The report also analyses the impact of regulatory changes, recent developments and the background macroeconomic outlook and features competitive landscapes comparing companies by products and services, sales, market share, investments, projects, partners and expansion strategies.
BMI's United States Petrochemicals Report provides industry professionals and strategists, sector analysts, trade associations and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on the American petrochemicals industry.
- Benchmark BMI's independent petrochemicals industry forecasts to test other views - a key input for successful budgetary and planning in the American petrochemicals market.
- Target business opportunities and risks in the American petrochemicals sector through our reviews of latest industry trends, regulatory changes and major deals, projects and investments in United States.
- Assess the activities, strategy and market position of your competitors, partners and clients via our Company Profiles (inc. KPIs and latest activity).
BMI Industry View
Summary of BMI’s key industry forecasts, views and trend analysis, covering the petrochemicals markets, regulatory changes, major investments, projects and company developments.
Industry SWOT Analysis
Analysis of the major Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats within the petrochemicals sector and within the broader political, economic and business environment.
BMI Industry Forecasts
Historic data series (2009-2013) and forecasts to end-2019 for key industry and economic indicators, supported by explicit assumptions, plus analysis of key risks to the main forecasts. Indicators include:
- Energy: Oil production (‘000 b/d), oil consumption (‘000 b/d), net oil exports (‘000 b/d), gas production (bcm), gas consumption (bcm), net gas exports (bcm), oil refinery capacity (‘000 b/d).
- Petrochemicals: Ethylene capacity (‘000 tpa), ethylene production (‘000 tpa), ethylene consumption (‘000 tpa), polyethylene capacity (‘000 tpa), polypropylene capacity (‘000 tpa), polyvinyl chloride capacity (‘000 tpa), polyolefins consumption (‘000 tpa).
- Oil Products Prices: Price forecasts for all major oil-based products (USD/bbl) at major global energy trading hubs.
- Economic: Nominal GDP (USDbn), real GDP growth (%), GDP per capita (USD), population (mn), unemployment (%), exchange rate (against USD).
BMI’s Petrochemicals Risk Reward Index
BMI’s Risk Reward Indices provide investors (both corporate and financial) looking for opportunities in the region with a clear country-comparative assessment of a market’s risks and potential rewards. Each of the country markets are scored using a sophisticated model that includes more than 40 industry, economic and demographic data points to provide indices of highest to lowest appeal to investors, with each position explained.
Structure, size and value of the industry sector; overview of the industry landscape and key players; assessment of the business operating environment and the latest regulatory developments.
Industry Trends & Developments
Evaluation of company and sector-wide developments, including key projects (as well as expansion plans), latest company financial details and proposed international ventures.
Examines the competitive positioning and short- to medium-term business strategies of key industry players. Strategy is examined within the context of BMI’s industry forecasts, our macroeconomic views and our understanding of the wider competitive landscape. The latest financial and operating statistics and key company developments are also incorporated within the company profiles, enabling a full evaluation of recent company performance and future growth prospects.
Global & Regional Market Overview
Analysis of the key trends driving the global industry, including worldwide output/capacity and demand analysis across ethylene, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, polyethylene terephthalate and polypropylene. The regional analysis looks at the implications of local and global trends on specific company activity.
Sub-sectors covered by the Petrochemicals Reports include:
Oil & Gas, Oil Refining, Olefins (ethylene, propylene), Polyolefins (polyethylene, polypropylene), Polyvinyl Chloride, Polystyrene
Please note – not all country Reports cover all sub-sectors – see website for details.
The Petrochemicals Market Reports are based on a network of primary sources, such as multilateral organisations (ACC, APLA, Cefi c, ICCA, ICMA), national chambers of commerce and industry, national statistical offi ces, government ministries and central banks, and multinational companies.
*Company profiles are not available for every country. Those reports instead contain information on the current activities of prominent companies operating in the market.