Last updateFri, 11 Jun 2021 4pm

Global Chemicals Output Dips in March

Global chemicals production eased 0.2% in March, a pause in the global recovery that began last June, according to data collected and tabulated by the American Chemistry Council. During March, chemical output grew in Africa and the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region and was weak elsewhere. Headline global production was up 18.1% year-over-year (Y/Y) on a three-month moving average basis. Global output stood at 131.8% of its average 2012 levels. Output was down a year ago due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During March, global capacity rose 0.2% and was up 2.1% Y/Y. With easing output, capacity utilization in the global chemical industry slipped 0.3 points to 88.8%. This is well above last March and above the long-term (1987-2019) average of 86.3%. Among chemical industry segments, March results were negative, with gains seen only in other specialty chemicals. Considering year-earlier comparisons, production gains occurred in all segments. 

EPA Rolls Back Benefit-Cost Rule

The EPA issued an interim final rule to rescind the previous administration’s rule entitled “Increasing Consistency and Transparency in Considering Benefits and Costs in the Clean Air Act Rulemaking Process,” also known as the Benefit-Cost Rule. In response to President Biden’s Executive Order 13990, "Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis," the EPA reviewed the Benefit-Cost Rule and found that it imposed procedural restrictions and requirements that would have limited EPA’s ability to use the best available science in developing Clean Air Act regulations, and would be inconsistent with economic best practices. 

U.S. Energy Production Fell More Than 5% in 2020

In 2020, energy production in the U.S. fell to just below 96 quadrillion British thermal units (quads), down more than 5% from 2019’s record high, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In absolute terms, the drop from 101.3 quads in 2019 to 95.8 quads in 2020 marked the largest annual decrease in U.S. energy production on record. Economic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that began during the spring of 2020 drove most of this decrease. 

Colonial Pipeline Shut Down After Cyber-Attack

On May 7, Colonial Pipeline, the largest gasoline pipeline in the U.S., was the victim of a cybersecurity attack in an incident that involved ransomware. Quickly after learning of the attack, the Colonial Pipeline Company proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat and contacted the U.S. Department of Energy, who is leading the Federal Government response. A criminal group based out of Russia is believed to be responsible. 

Chemical Activity Barometer Rose in April

The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) from the American Chemistry Council rose 0.7% in April on a three-month moving average basis following a 1.1% increase in March and a 0.9% gain in February. On a year-over-year basis, the barometer rose 12.0% in April.

The unadjusted data show a 0.3% increase in April following a 1.4% gain in March. The diffusion index reached 100% in April. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for March was revised downward by 0.35 points and the reading for February was revised downward by 0.58 points. 

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