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US PET Imports in First 11 Months of 2022 Up 12.6% from 2021

January 13, 2023

The U.S. imported 1,327,224 metric tons of polyethylene terephthalate plastic in the first 11 months of 2022, up 12.6% from same period in 2021, according to the latest U.S. Customs data.

PET is the world's most heavily used plastic and is ubiquitous in water and beverage bottles, packaging such as clamshell takeout containers, curtains, carpeting, clothing and pillow and sofa stuffing.

"All the plastic you see walking around the grocery store, the bottles, cookie and bread trays, all that packaging stuff, most of that is PET," said a U.S.

importer of recycled plastic flake from South America. He sells the flake to U.S. plants that blend it with virgin PET to make new products. His current price is 60-63cts/lb delivered by truck to within 250 miles of ports including Mobile, Ala., and the New York/New Jersey area.

The 2022 imports equal an estimated 69,884 shipping containers at 19 mt/container. The U.S. Customs value of the 2022 imports was $2.1 billion, double the $1.01 billion value of the imports a year earlier.

The top source of the 2022 imports was Mexico at 281,911 mt or 21.2% of the total. Next was Taiwan (230,007 mt), Oman (212,361 mt), South Korea (147,064) and Vietnam (130,729 mt).

PET also is produced at plants in the U.S. owned by Mexico's Alpek (Dak Americas), Thailand's Indorama Ventures, and Taiwan's Far Eastern New Century Corp.

PET resin produced in the U.S. is now priced at 84-89cts/lb for railcars delivered to Midwest plants producing PET products, according to the PetroChem Wire Recycled Plastics Weekly Report assessment for Jan 12, down from 94-96 cts/lb a year ago. PetroChem Wire by OPIS is a Dow Jones Company.

PET imported from Asia to Southern California is about 10cts cheaper than PET produced in the U.S. An isolated deal was reported Friday at 70cts/lb for a bulk truck (45,000 lb) of PET delivered to the U.S. Northeast.

Reporting by Xavier A Cronin, xcronin@opisnet.com

 Editing by Donna Todd, dtodd@opisnet.com and Jeff Barber, jbarber@opisnet.com

© 2023 Oil Price Information Service, LLC. All rights reserved.


S Korea's Lotte Cuts Daesan Cracker Run Rate to 84%, Yeosu Cracker to 82%

January 10, 2023

South Korea's Lotte Chemical Corp. has further decreased the run rates at its two naphtha-fed crackers, located separately in Daesan and Yeosu, this month from an average of 85% capacity last month, said a source familiar with the matter.

Lotte is running its Daesan cracker, which has a capacity to produce 1.1 million metric tons (mt) per year of ethylene and 550,000 mt/year of propylene, at 84% capacity this month.

It is operating its larger Yeosu cracker, which has a capacity to produce 1.2 million mt/year of ethylene and 620,000 mt/year of propylene, at 82% capacity, the source said.

Lotte Chemical in early December decreased the average run rates at both crackers to 85% capacity amid the logistics bottlenecks caused by a nationwide cargo truckers' strike. The 16-day strike, the truckers' second major walkout in 2022, ended on Dec. 9.

It had planned to run both crackers at 90% capacity in December, unchanged from November.

Based on Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS' integrated cracker model, 77% of Asian steam crackers are operating below their breakeven point in January, according to the latest Asia Light Olefins weekly report.

Reporting by Trisha Huang, thuang@opisnet.com

 Editing by Hanwei Wu, hwu@opisnet.com

© 2023 Oil Price Information Service, LLC. All rights reserved.


Aramco, TotalEnergies Plan Cracker, Petrochemical Add-ons To SATORP

December 16, 2022

Saudi Arabia's Saudi Aramco and French oil supermajor TotalEnergies plan to build a new mixed-feed cracker with associated petrochemical units in Saudi Arabia's Jubail, which will be integrated with, and owned and run by existing joint venture SATORP, both companies announced on Dec. 15.

Construction of a 1.65 million metric tons (mt) per year cracker and petrochemical units will begin in the first quarter of 2023, with commercial operation targeted by 2027, said TotalEnergies in its statement.

This mixed feed cracker will be the first in the region to be integrated with a refinery, said Saudi Aramco in its press release.

Its petrochemical complex will include two polyethylene units (PE), a butadiene extraction unit, and other associated derivatives units, TotalEnergies said.

This $11 billion "Amiral' project will enable SATORP to convert internally-produced refinery off-gases and naphtha, as well as ethane and natural gasoline supplied by Aramco, into higher value chemicals, Saudi Aramco added.

Eventually, the complex will provide feedstock to upcoming petrochemical and specialty chemical plants in Jubail, precipitating production of carbon fibers, lubes, drilling fluids, detergents, food additives, automotive parts and tires.

Aramco and TotalEnergies will fund $4 billion in the project through equity in a 62.5:37.5 ratio.

Saudi Aramco TotalEnergies Refining and Petrochemical Company or SATORP, the first joint venture between Saudi Aramco and TotalEnergies, started up in 2014 with initial crude oil capacity at 400,000 b/d that increased to 460,000 b/d, said TotalEnergies.

Aramco said this project will help advance its liquids-to-chemicals strategy.

-- Reporting by Chuan Ong, cong@opisnet.com; Editing by Carrie Ho, cho@opisnet.com 

© 2022 Oil Price Information Service, LLC. All rights reserved.


China's Wanhua Chemical Plans Second-phase Cracker, Petrochemicals Units

December 15, 2022

China's Wanhua Chemical Group is planning to build a 1.2 million tons (mt) per year cracker along with associated downstream petrochemical units as part of its second-phase expansion, the company announced in a stock exchange filing on Dec. 14.

This cracker will consume ethane and naphtha, complementing its existing first-phase ethylene and propane dehydrogenation (PDH) project through feedstock diversification, said Wanhua Chemical.

In turn, the new cracker supplies downstream polyurethane and fine chemicals units, extending its value chain, the company said.

Wanhua said its new project can improve China's self-sufficiency, as sectors like polyolefin elastomers (POE) and cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) are heavily import-dependent.

The company plans to connect its Shandong Yantai site through pipelines with another site in nearby Penglai, where an ethylene oxide unit is expected by 2025, according to data from Chemical Market Analytics (CMA).

Wanhua Chemical's 17.6 billion yuan project in Shandong's Yantai Industrial Park will include the following units:

- 1.2 million mt/year cracker
- 250,000 mt/year low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
- two 200,000 mt/year polyolefin elastomer (POE)
- 200,000 mt/year butadiene
- 550,000 mt/year pyrolysis gasoline hydrogenation (including 30,000 tons/year styrene extraction)- 400,000 mt/year aromatics extraction
- supporting auxiliary projects and facilities

CMA by OPIS is a Dow Jones company.

-- Reporting by Chuan Ong, cong@opisnet.com; Editing by Hanwei Wu, hwu@opisnet.com 

© 2022 Oil Price Information Service, LLC. All rights reserved.


European Commission Fines 5 Companies $162 Mn for Styrene Cartel Involvement

November 29, 2022

The European Commission has fined Sunpor, Synbra, Synthomer, Synthos and Trinseo a total of €157 million ($162 million) for participating in a cartel involving purchases on the spot styrene monomer (styrene) market, according to a news release Tuesday.

INEOS was not fined as it revealed the European cartel to the Commission under the leniency program. All six companies admitted their involvement and agreed to settle the case, according to the European Commission.

The six buyers of styrene exchanged sensitive commercial information and coordinated their negotiation strategy on the styrene monthly contract price.

This price is widely used as a reference price in the industry and often forms part of the pricing formula in styrene supply agreements. Unlike in most cartels where companies conspire to increase their sales prices, the six companies colluded to lower an element of the price of styrene, the Commission said.

"We fine six companies which participated in a purchasing cartel of styrene, a key input for many chemical products," executive vice-president of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager said in a statement on Monday. "The companies colluded and exchanged information on an industry reference price for styrene.

Their plan was to influence the reference price negotiations to their advantage to buy styrene at a lower price ... They distort the competitive process which should be based on companies' independent decisions, and we will not tolerate them."

The period under investigation was between May 2012 and June 2018, according to the Commission's statement.

Styrene is an intermediate chemical product that serves as a key input for many other chemicals, such as plastics, resins, rubbers and latexes.

--Reporting Rob Sheridan, rsheridan@opisnet.com; Editing by Yazdi Merchant, ymerchant@opisnet.com 

© 2022 Oil Price Information Service, LLC. All rights reserved.