Last updateMon, 19 Aug 2019 4pm

U.S. Specialty Chemical Market Remains Soft

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that reflecting mixed manufacturing activity, U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes were flat in May after falling 0.3% in April and 0.4% in March. All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments ACC monitors, 13 expanded in May, up from three in April and eight in March.

Performance chemistry reflects trends in manufacturing. For the first quarter as a whole, specialty chemical market volumes were essentially flat, and it appears that the second quarter will be soft as well.

Chevron Phillips Planning to Acquire Nova Chemicals

Chevron Phillips Chemical is bidding more than $15 billion for Canadian chemical giant Nova Chemicals of Alberta, Canada, Plastics News reports.

"The deal with Nova Chemicals would allow Chevron and Phillips 66 to diversify further into this market while increasing competitiveness and market reach. North American ethane feedstock advantage makes the region an ideal location for acquisitions/expansions in the ethylene-polyethylene sector," said Ashish Chitalia, principal analyst at global consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

Phillips 66 Planning Texas Export Terminal

“Phillips 66 is looking to build an offshore export terminal in the Gulf of Mexico, a project that would join a growing list of facilities being planned to handle the growing shipments of U.S. shale oil,” Bloomberg reports.

The Bluewater Texas Terminal “would provide an additional safe and environmentally sustainable solution for the export of abundant domestic crude oil supplies from major shale basins to global markets,” said a Phillips 66 spokesman.

U.S. Chemical Industry Expansion Continues Despite Headwinds

U.S. chemical industry output will continue to grow in 2019 despite a challenging global economy, according to the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Mid-Year 2019 Chemical Industry Situation and Outlook. Growth in key domestic end-use markets and a sustained competitive advantage tied to surging supplies of natural gas and NGLs from shale activity are spurring new capital investment in American chemistry. Solid production gains are anticipated as new capacity comes online.

With slowing growth prospects across much of the globe and rising trade tensions, chemical exports are not performing as well as expected a year ago. Manufacturing also appears to be slowing. On the plus side, chemical inventories are in a more balanced position, housing is expected to ease slightly before continuing its slow recovery, and the automotive sector will stay at relatively elevated levels. Both are important end-use markets for chemistry.

ExxonMobil, SABIC to Proceed with Gulf Coast Project

ExxonMobil and SABIC have decided to proceed with the construction of a chemical facility and a 1.8 million metric ton ethane steam cracker in San Patricio County, TX. The joint venture, called Gulf Coast Growth Ventures, received final environmental regulatory approval in June 2019 to build an ethane steam cracker, two polyethylene units and a monoethylene glycol unit. Construction will begin in the third quarter of 2019 and startup is anticipated by 2022.

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