View below the WPC 2020 Online Agenda
Make sure to tune into the live WPC 2020 Online Forums taking place 7-17 April 2020
Agenda Subject to change
Hear how the first energy sector company to join the IBM Q Network is partnering with IBM to advance the potential use of quantum computing in developing the next generation of energy and process manufacturing technologies.
Styrene prices have been relatively stable in 2019 despite fluctuations in feedstock prices. Limited capacity additions and fewer unplanned shutdowns in 2019 compared to the last several years contributed to stable prices and positive margins before taking a turn for the worse at the end of the year, ultimately becoming negative. Looking forward, a significant increase in new styrene capacities in Asia, as well as slower demand growth in line with a weaker global economy, will put a squeeze on margins. Trade flows could also change due to rising Chinese capacity and new protectionism laws in key markets. The styrenics industry has grown steadily and enjoyed healthy margins previously but the next couple of years will be challenging as we foresee rapid changes this year.
The phenolics industry is in a constant state of change and challenges: New capacity startups in Asia are changing supply and demand requirements, multiple anti-dumping duty investigations are leading to new phenol and acetone shipping routes, and the circular economy and plastics sustainability is starting to impact the derivative industry. Phenol and acetone prices and margins have reversed in 2019, but what is the outlook going forward? Feedstock cost fluctuations are a constant challenge for phenolics producers in a low-margin profile. What are the prospects for each product in every corner of the world?
Major new capacity for paraxylene and terephthalic acid (PTA) has been added in China during 2019 and more is to come in 2020, tipping these global markets into an oversupply again. Prices have collapsed and some producers are losing margin leading to rationalizations, with the potential for more closures this year. Although this is not new-- paraxylene producers often turn down plant rates in times of poor profitability, especially when gasoline markets are strong -- this downcycle marks the start of China’s journey towards self-sufficiency in paraxylene, having reached a peak of 16 million metric tons of necessary imports in 2018. The new plants being built in China mainland are the first of the crude-to-chemicals complexes, with 4 million metric tons of paraxylene capacity at each site. The closures by other global producers, who normally export their paraxylene to China, may ultimately need to be permanent, forcing a radical restructuring of the global paraxylene and PTA markets in an accelerated period of time. The presentation will examine how fast the industry consolidation may take place and which producers are likely to be impacted.
The once lucrative MEG business has, for many, transitioned into a loss-making one. The huge overbuild of capacity has created an extremely challenging environment and left many looking over their shoulder. This is only the start of what will be a period of prolonged hardship in the MEG market. In response to this, a strategic shift in the EO business is already underway as players look to diversify away from MEG. Purified EO derivatives can sometimes be overlooked, but they offer a strong, viable alternative to MEG. During this session, the range of possibilities within this value chain will be explored, the ongoing capital investments assessed and the potential returns over the coming years highlighted.
The last year has been a challenging environment for polyurethane feedstocks. Isocyanates have seen prices and margins crash to some of their lowest levels, propylene oxide has often been at the mercy of co-product economics, and polyether polyols demand has slowed as global economic issues have hit end-users. Trade flows have been altered as tariffs and federal policy changes market dynamics and products, prompting producers in all regions to fight for position in the future market. The industry is at a crossroads as once-specialty products move into the commodity sector and with further investment still on the horizon, could we be looking at a more sustained downturn in the years ahead?
The paths of rivers are constantly changing, sometimes rapidly from floods and sometimes gradually. Like a raging river, a significant flux in the chlor-alkali market in 2019 altered the course of the global caustic soda market. But will the changes continue to be dramatic, or will the market settle back into a quiet evolution? This discussion will explore the reasons for the rapid change in the caustic soda market in 2019 and will outline expectations for the global market over the coming 5 years. Factors considered will include regional and global economic activity as well as dynamic forces from individual demand sectors and capacity expectations.
Navigating China’s evolving environmental landscape has become a key business consideration, particularly in the chemicals manufacturing sector. Businesses must not just comply with increasingly stringent environmental requirements but also navigate through non-regulatory challenges in order to ensure longer term survival. This presentation will provide an update on the current environmental landscape in China and how the environmental clean-up effort has impacted the chlor-alkali and vinyls industry. IHS Markit will also provide an assessment of what future CAV market dynamics may look like as the industry evolves and adapts to changing Chinese environmental requirements.
In 2019, caustic soda consumption in South America accounted for about 8% of total global caustic soda demand in 2019, excluding China. However, installed chlor-alkali capacity in the region falls well below demand and there are no significant capacity additions planned in the next 5 years. Thus, South America is a key caustic soda importing region. Inasmuch, caustic soda flowing into South America is a key component of global trade and supply / demand balances. The industry on the continent is driven by rich natural resources that position alumina and pulp and paper as key caustic soda demand sectors. Despite the natural resource wealth, South American caustic soda demand has been tempered by regional socio-economic issues that continue to prevent the region from reaching its full potential. Weighing all factors at play, we will discuss expectations for South America's chlor-alkali supply and demand growth, as well as its potential impact on export markets, the global supply/demand balance, and the outlook for the recognized powerhouse regions.
Europe is most often evaluated as a single market in the context of global chlor-alkali dynamics. But is it really one market acting in response to a singular set of forces? In this speech we will subdivide the continent of Europe and examine the diverse economic and industrial forces that act on chlor-alkali chemicals and their derivatives in different regions of the continent. We will also explore each of the European sub-segments from the vantage point of forward expectations about which side of the ECU will be the dominant growth driver, chlorine or caustic soda. Finally, we will reassemble the sub-segments of Europe to explore expectations for demand tension between forecasted relative chlorine and caustic soda growth rates over the upcoming five years, and therefore expectations for the near-term future of the consolidated continental market.
This presentation will explain the reasons why the chlorine market behaves the way it does by looking at its derivatives, and provide a global chlorine market outlook for the next five years. The presentation will deliver a critical analysis of supply/demand dynamics for chlorine in the three key regions and will enable a better understanding of the drivers of downstream industries behind the different chlorine demand sectors, besides the most traditional ones. It will briefly discuss industries such as flame retardants, paints & coatings, and water treatment, among others. Finally, it will outline leading indicators that correlate best and that are meaningful to fully understand chlorine demand.
China has dominated soda ash capacity additions in recent decades, adding 22 million mt of mostly synthetic capacity since 2000, primarily to meet its own domestic demand. The trend changed to some extent in 2009 when new natural soda ash capacity was added in Turkey. Further additions in Turkey followed. The US, home to the biggest natural soda ash capacity and a low-cost process, is the largest soda ash exporter in the world. However, the net change in US capacity over the last two decades has only been 134,000 mt. Recently, unprecedented capacity additions have been announced for the US, close to 8 million mt. At the same time China is scheduled to add 7 million mt of natural soda ash capacity. In this presentation we will discuss the various expansions – timing, permits, technology employed etc. In addition, we will discuss how the new capacity will compete and shape a market that is oversupplied today.
In the globally competitive vinyls industry, scale, integration and access to low-cost feedstocks are key ingredients for long-term survival. Some geographic regions are better positioned than others with respect to competitiveness. This presentation will critically analyze the impact on PVC competitiveness of scale, integration and feedstocks, with particular focus on feedstocks. The discussion will include regional and global considerations. The global vinyls supply / demand balance is projected to tighten; considerations for the industry’s ability to attract competitive feedstocks is critical, especially because PVC is at a different point in the investment cycle than most other polymers. Positive and negative ramifications of the unique position of PVC in the investment cycle will be discussed.
The wave of capacity for ethylene is coming in the short run but what messages can be gleaned from the unseen factors?
Nameplate operating rates have been a key metric to determine supply/demand imbalances and ethylene chain margin strength. But more important are the unseen factors that hold back production, driving to a lower effective capacity to produce ethylene and by contrast, a higher effective operating rate. Not all the signals are obvious and sorting through these factors can offer a slightly different message on where the chain sits.
The relationships among the family members of propylene supply will drive the global balances into surplus
Despite the rise in on-purpose production, the unbreakable links among gasoline production, cracker operating rates and olefin supply will continue to have a lasting influence over the propylene market, inasmuch as to drive the global balance into oversupply. This presentation will not only explore the interdependencies of the propylene production sources, but also investigate whether the market will repeat the historical cycle of excess supply motivating higher consumption.
Massive capacity builds have developed across the globe as a historically cyclical industry compelled by strong demand and global margin strength predictably overbuilds. The profitability enjoyed in recent years began to erode in 2019 just ahead of unprecedented additional global production capacity additions and the prospect of declining demand. How will the industry respond to this pending capacity excess and can the industry adapt to forces that are reshaping the role of polyethylene and plastics in society?
While we have seen periods of overbuild throughout history, what we are expecting in 2020 regarding new builds, led by China, is unprecedented. The challenge for global producers is that China is not the only part of the world starting up new plants. Large capacity additions in 2020 are quickly changing the narrative for global PP, which has been very positive since 2014 thanks to strong demand exceeding capacity additions. Thus, for the first time in many years, we expect the production cost curve to be tested to remove production from the forecast, through a combination of temporary cutbacks of production rates along with permanent rationalization of higher cost, smaller, older assets focused on commodity markets. The overall near- to medium-term forecast for PP producers appears challenging, while buyers look to benefit as their prices will be at levels not seen in quite some time.
Global olefins feedstocks are dominated by naphtha, ethane and LPG. Adjusting for seasonality, global LPG benchmark prices have generally weakened vs. crude oil from the fall of 2017 through the end of 2019. Naphtha also trended down vs. crude oil during that period, albeit less markedly. Meanwhile, ethane prices that had cratered following the recession of 2008/9 rose above the equivalent energy value of natural gas in 2017, and have struggled to remain only marginally above their thermal values. These feedstocks are mostly produced as byproducts of oil and gas production and refining. The shale boom has changed the dynamics of feedstock production and availability around the world, and has thereby influenced feedstock prices as well. With a glut of both NGLs and most refined products available, how low can these feedstock prices go? How long is this situation likely to last?
Currently, the Asian olefin industry faces huge uncertainties. Massive expansions coupled with softening demand are weighing on the Asian olefins market. Regions with excess monomer and polymer capacities will be increasing their exports to Asia in 2020, and cracker margins in Asia have already tumbled to a minimum level in early 2020. This presentation will focus on the Asian olefins market forecast based on historical information and new challenges ahead in Asia, such as the COVID-19 impact to olefins supply and demand, increasing US ethylene monomer and derivatives exports to Asia, and the increasing importance of on-purpose propylene production in the region.
Over the past few years, Europe and the Middle East have shifted into investment mode with numerous projects under consideration throughout the region. However, following a period of record industry profitability, projects are lining up at a faster rate than the world can absorb and the opportunities that looked so enticing just recently are now fraught with risks. Although the desire to grow ethylene and propylene supply has been seen globally, the drivers within each region have been different. For this region, weakened earnings and uncompetitive construction costs have raised the barriers to investment. But, has the door been closed to future investment or are there still chances for the industry to grow?
About 15 years ago, shale gas startedredefining the global petrochemical industry. Today, on the other end of the feedstock spectrum, crude oil refining technology is well on its way to again bring significant disruption to the petrochemical industry. It is already happening in China with a significant amount of crude oil to p-xylene and light olefins plants coming on stream at mega complexes. Driven by energy transition and supported by $100 billion of capital investment across Asia and the Middle East (by the mid-2020s), this refinery-petrochemical integration-driven (supply) disruption is expected to escalate in the light olefins industry across the globe including the U.S. Moreover, owing to refinery technology developments, these crude oil-based olefins mega complexes are expected to have full production costs approaching those of ethane-based olefins plants.
Is climate change real, and if yes, what can be done about it? How much time is left to stop global warming? This paper will present fact-based information on global warming and outline ways to tackle climate change on an industrial and individual level. Options to reduce aerial carbon dioxide content will be evaluated, including a reality check on the actual timeframe needed to get there. An assessment of the different pathways for carbon capture, storage and utilization will be presented. This creates several business opportunities for the chemical and related industries. The presentation will conclude with a quantification of these opportunities in terms of volume, cost, benefits and timeframe.
The term water-soluble polymer (WSP) encompasses a wide range of synthetic, semisynthetic, and natural materials. These structurally diverse polymers share an important attribute: all are soluble in water under some conditions. Because of this property, WSPs are broadly useful in most applications that involve water.
Water treatment is a major end use for synthetic WSPs, especially polyacrylamide and polyacrylic acid. Oil field applications (such as drilling muds) also consume substantial amounts of WSPs, but demand from this sector can be volatile. Consumption of guar gum is strongly linked to hydraulic fracturing activity, which in turn is linked to crude oil prices. Food applications—another major end use for WSPs—are dominated by natural polymers, including gelatin, xanthan gum, and gum arabic. As dietary fibers, these WSPs help reduce cholesterol levels; as functional ingredients, they serve as thickeners and stabilizers in yogurt and chocolate milk.
Linear alpha-olefins (LAO) are key intermediates in the manufacture of a variety of consumer and industrial products that continue to show attractive, global growth rates over the coming years. Growth in demand, particularly as comonomers for polyethylene, high performance plastomers and elastomers, polyalphaolefin lubricants and surfactant chemicals, continue to drive new investments that require corresponding investments in LAO intermediates. Balancing the demand and supply of the various LAO chain lengths required for the numerous applications remains challenging for the industry. Discover how LAOs play an important role in these and other applications, and how the industry is investing in multi-purpose and on-purpose LAO facilities to meet demand over the next five years.
Lithium products have been commercially offered for a century but only in the last 20 years has demand broken out of previous growth patterns. Lithium demand is now driven by demand for energy storage devices, notably electric vehicles. Many people associate the two main lithium chemicals by volume: lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide, with their cousins sodium carbonate (soda ash) and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda). This association suggests lithium chemicals should be commodities but when analyzed deeper, their specialty attributes become apparent. Nearly every lithium chemical production site is custom engineered and built specifically for the feedstock used, which not only varies from rock to brine but also with respect to impurity levels that must be managed. Finally, the end-use markets vary from life critical applications, like aerospace and implantable medical components, to more commodity centric applications, like glass and ceramics. Will growth lead to commoditization? This presentation will discuss IHS Markit’s expectations for the future of the lithium chemicals market.
Refinery products are the life blood of the modern world as they enable vital functions ranging from transportation to pharmaceuticals. Operators of refineries are facing two problems –a highly variable starting material and constant changes on the demand side. The flexibility to address those two problems depends on the usage of catalysts, which can transform undesired crude oil components into valuable products or optimize the yield of such. Since the 1920s, research and development of catalysts has revolutionized the refining business and is still the most important force to drive and improve the refining processes.
Adhesives and sealants are versatile products that are used in a broad range of industrial sectors. This presentation will first review the global adhesives and sealants market and the current industry status. Then, major technologies used for adhesives and sealants and their applications will be discussed. Finally, trends and opportunities will be explained.
Several large-scale paraxylene focused crude-oil-to-chemical (COTC) projects have been started in China while other olefins-based projects have been implemented or planned. These projects are due to profoundly transform the global supply and demand for paraxylene and light olefins in the coming years. This presentation will give an update on significant projects and technologies and present the economics of representative projects.
The global post-consumer PET collection rate in 2017 reached 55% with a few countries such as Japan, China, and Germany collecting. However, the recycled content of PET packaging is only about 7%. Most of the collected PET goes to less stringent applications, particularly staple fibers. Increasing public awareness on the growing problem of plastic waste has led to major significant brand owners such as Coca-Cola, packaging manufacturers, and government bodies to target much higher recycling content in packaging. There has been an urgent drive for innovation in plastic recycling to meet these recycling targets. Chemical recycling of PET can aid the recovery of PET raw materials or produce new raw materials.
This presentation will provide an overview of PET chemical recycling technologies, commercialization status, and production economics. We will compare the economics of bottle-grade PET produced with recycled material with virgin PET.
With the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015, the pressure is mounting for all 197 countries that signed the agreement to reduce global greenhouse gasses emissions. In particular, to meet their reduction targets, a carbon trading system is deemed necessary.
The chemical industry will undoubtedly be a significant target for emission reduction. This presentation will investigate examples of how to account for carbon emission costs in chemical production economics. It will also and assess the impact on the competing processes and regions, including carbon costs for petrochemicals, natural gas and oil-based feedstocks, and green (bio-based) chemicals. The presentation will consider recent carbon emission prices; and how to set carbon emission benchmarks (allowances). The discussion will also address carbon dioxide capture technology and its application for converting brown hydrogen to blue hydrogen; with economic analysis for these this various hydrogen (brown, green, and blue) production configurations.
Successive waves of disruption across industries brings constant change, and this also brings opportunity. We’ve entered a new era where truth isn’t subjective, but collective—where radical transparency is uprooting how we interact, transact and drive growth. Leading organizations and consortia in many verticals are rapidly unleashing the exponential business value of Blockchain. More than a new technology, it’s a whole new playing field spanning supply chains, global trade, payments, trade finance and many other industries. Discover creative ways Blockchain is being applied today across industries and value chains to break down barriers and build newfound trust.
This session will focus on supply chain digitization and business transformative business models taking place within the process industry. With the rapid growth of the Internet of Things and recent advances in Industry 4.0 technologies like cloud computing, Blockchain, machine learning, and edge computing, there's been much debate about the impact that digitalization will have on the process industries over the next few years.
Are you ready for your Control Tower to change? We will perform an in-depth review for a better understanding of the ever-evolving control tower (past, present, and future). The presentation will explore the types, functionality, complexity, people, and evolution of control towers to prepare for the future. Digitizing the control tower through the linkage of demand & production planning with sales & customer service will be critical. This change will improve efficiencies, contain costs, and allow companies the ability to manage their business with a 360-degree view of the information for faster reaction times to their customers.
The trade conflict between the US and China Trade Conflict continues to impact global operators of PE, particularly the United States. While some concessions have been made that help US producers, significant obstacles remain. With the new policy announced around single-use plastics, China's thirst for material PE/PP now being questioned. How could this affect current trade flows in Asia and cascade to US future US exports into the region?
The build-up to IMO 2020 often felt like the lead up to the Y2K crisis at the end of the last millennium; that is, uncertainty and apprehension about what might come next abounded. Now that we are several months into 2020, what are the near- and long-term effects of the low-sulfur fuel mandate? Presently, what should shipowners be on the lookout for (1) when it comes to monitoring and enforcement, and (2) the steps to take to ensure increased future compliance? What can we learn from those parties that have been successful through a proactive and innovative approach to the regulations? Looking ahead, what can transportation providers and petrochemical industry stakeholders do to start preparing for stricter regulations such as the 2023 short-term decarbonization deadline through to the 2050 goal of annual reduction of greenhouse gases by 50%?
Latin America’s petrochemical industry faces challenges as the new decade commences. Much needed infrastructure investment is unlikely in the short-term as the regional governments and populist policies test investor confidence. The global economic slowdown, lower commodity prices, and trade policy uncertainty, also undermine the region’s growth. Its largest economies are either in or close to recession.
The region’s economic forecast is one mild acceleration for Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Peru. We expect more efficient public spending and policies, and while there are many risks on the short term horizon, none of them is assumed to materialize in the baseline scenario. Investment opportunities are abundant, and as market players see the recovery taking shape, these will reinforce a virtuous cycle.
The refining industry supplies the majority of feedstocks to the petrochemical sector in Latin America. Although the downstream will remain dominated by national oil companies (NOCs), there is a wave of changes coming to the industry. New investments in Argentina, modernization project in Peru, divestments and new entrants in Brazil, all of which have implications to the petrochemical sector in the region. Intense competition and a push of exports from the US Gulf Coast refiners to Latin America may force the local refineries to explore refinery-petrochemical integration to stay competitive. What are the main changes in the region, and what is the outlook for the downstream sector? How can Latin America's petrochemical industry assess opportunities from these changes?
Sulfur benchmark prices have dropped to their lowest levels in more than a decade. Have the prices reached the bottom of the current cycle? From the supply-side perspective, increases in global refining and gas capacity continue to increase the availability of brimstone. In terms of consumption, the fertilizer segment consumed around 60% of sulfur-in-all-forms in 2019, and any recovery in sulfur prices is contingent on the health of the fertilizer market in general and the phosphate market in particular. Other factors, such as the IMO2020 regulations reducing the sulfur content of bunker fuel and ongoing geopolitical tensions, including trading sanctions, impact on both the supply and demand for sulfur. This presentation will review recent supply and demand-side developments and provide our analysis of likely short- and long-term changes to the market, including an assessment of how pricing could evolve in an uncertain market.
Ammonia market has faced oversupply from new capacity additions, as a result of large-scale investments in various countries in the mid-2010s. Back then, this route provided high returns and was a good way for monetizing natural gas resources. Currently, the industry has faced weak demand from both agricultural and industrial segments and suffer from depressed prices. Ammonia industry has also got an unexpected consequence from the feedstock markets: lower gas prices, which have influenced the competitiveness of the ammonia producers. Nevertheless, the wave of new capacity additions is almost over, and slowly growing demand is trying to absorb the excess volumes. There are growing market spots which could offset the impact of excessive growth in other parts of the world. The presentation provides an outlooks outlook on the supply and demand, the international trade, downstream markets: –nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers, and industrial applications, including the petrochemical industry.
There are now dozens of green ammonia pilot plants operating or under development around the world. This presentation will introduce these projects and describe the forces – technologies, markets, economics, and regulations – that are driving the expansion of green ammonia from pilot-scale demonstrations to industrial-scale commercial production.
Today's industrial ammonia plants cause 1% of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including the carbon dioxide temporarily embedded in urea. Some players within the fertilizer industry are among the first movers exploring transition pathways to green ammonia, motivated by the need to reduce emissions. However, the drivers behind the shift to green ammonia come primarily from outside the fertilizer sector and represent new markets for ammonia, creating new risks and opportunities for incumbent ammonia producers.
The Energy energy industry accounts for approximately 70% of the world's Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and, in the past year, the focus on the industry's metrics, and actions towards sustainable business models has risen dramatically. In the United States, energy companies in the United States are the most targeted sector by shareholders' activism, accounting for approximately 40% of all the climate-related proposals voted on in 2019. The challenge of establishing strategies that meet all shareholder demands has never been more significant. What is the likely pace of change in the Energy Transition? What would have to happen to meet the Paris Climate Agreement targets? How are sustainability goals being addressed by companies and countries?
This presentation will examine plastics recycling and sustainability from the perspective of process economics and value preservation. Achieving a significant increase in the recycling rate is subject to favorable recycle economics, and if the quality of recycled material is comparable to the virgin material. We will examine the economics of mechanical, chemical, and feedstock recycling, as well as the relative merit and sustainability of each.