A MARKET UPDATE for JANUARY 2011

Special Message:

As we look back at 2010 we are pleased at the steady rebound in most economies and an ever improving situation for most individuals and companies. This past year was highlighted by a lot of changes and fluctuations in our industry triggered by inflating oil prices, rationalization, lack of raw material availability, commodity speculation, currency devaluation due to unsustainable debt levels and manufacturing outages (mechanical failure). The end effect is that chemical prices climbed throughout 2010 and at the end of the year we saw some of the highest prices ever on most chemicals.

Can this continue?

The fact is that when prices get too high demand suffers.
Right?

This theory could be proven wrong in 2011.

The short answer is; Yes. Unless we have another major global economic collapse, or if economic growth ends in developing countries, the demand will remain. Most Americans have been saving their money, reducing their debt load and changing their lifestyles. With the regained confidence of the improving economy, and with interest rates maintaining their extremely low level, spending is inevitable. As emerging markets expand, and mature markets grow with population, the demand for chemicals grows. At the same time the chemical industry’s production sector is seeing very little growth due to high costs for new plants , and recent economic uncertainty on top of new and existing environmental regulations. Unfortunately, the construction of new plants isn’t close to keeping up with demand. With the exception of a few bio based plants, the construction of new plants has come to a standstill for the past two years. We do hear about new plants being built, but most are in China but with their captive demand the world market may never see any of this new capacity. We may see some relief as a few producers restart old production and slowly bring it back into the market, but raw materials for these plants will remain short.

There is nothing we can do in our industry but continue to fill orders with the production we have in place. We will need to await expansion and hope the raw materials for these plants are available.

We understand that absorbing or passing on price increases is very difficult and affects your bottom line. If we saw the possibility of prices turning around we would be the first to inform you.

With these higher prices there will be incentive to create better chemistry and to build new capacity then once again chemical industry will become a favorite of Wall Street. Capital will be invested and new production will emerge. We have already seen this happen in the natural gas industry. The availability of natural gas at competitive rates will also spur growth. None of this will happen for a while. In the mean time prices will escalate and we’ll all be upset, but it’s better than shortages or another market crash.

TCC News:

TCC is excited to be exhibiting at the Informex 2011 in Charlotte, NC. Please feel free to stop by and visit us at booth 2140.

We look forward to seeing you in Charlotte!

Be sure to follow us on our new facebook page


Habla Español??? The TCC website is now in Spanish!

Myriant Technologies reports that they are staying on track to meet the full scale production goal of Q1- Q2 2012 for bio- based succinic acid. Due to the limited availability and extreme price of Adipic Acid many users in both technical and food applications are looking at this bio-based alternative.

Biobased Succinic Acid

Events:

February 7-10, 2011 InfomexUSA 2010
Charlotte, NC
March 27 – 29, 2011 NPRA/ International Petrochemical Conference
San Antonio, TX
October 1-5, 2011 EPCA Berlin
Germany

Downloadable Brochure

click here to download/view

New Products IN STOCK

Melamine Crystal 25 Kg. Bags (In stock and available now!)

2- Hydroxyethyl Methacrylate Drums( In Stock! )

2- Hydroxypropyl Methacrylate Drums

Malic Acid Small Bags ( In Stock and Available Now! )

90% Phenol Drums ( In Stock and Available Now! )

Fumaric Acid Big Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)

Maleic Anhydride Briquettes (In Stock and Available Now!)

Citric Acid (In Stock and Available Now!)

Acetyl TriButyl Citrate (In Stock and Available Now!)

Adipic Acid 25 Kg., 500 Kg. and 1,000 Kg. Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)

Products In Transit/ Available Soon

2- Hydroxypropyl Methacrylate Drums

Succinic Acid 25 Kg. Bags

Antimony Trioxide (High Tint, Supersacks)

New/ Updated Technical Information (hyperlinked):

Antimony Trioxide

Citric Acid

Epoxidized Soybean Oil

Succinic Acid

Malic Acid

Fumaric Acid

Tartaric Acid

New Products:

Melamine Crystal is an organic compound that is often combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a synthetic polymer which is fire resistant and heat tolerant. Melamine resin is a very versatile material with a highly stable structure. Uses for melamine include whiteboards, floor tiles, kitchenware, fire retardant fabrics, and commercial filters. Melamine can be easily molded while warm, but will set into a fixed form. This property makes it ideally suited to certain industrial applications.
Spec: Melamine Crystal

Succinic Acid is a dicarboxylic acid comprised of four carbon atoms. The chemical is produced as a colorless crystalline solid and is used in the drug, agriculture, food products, and other industries.
Spec: Succinic Acid

NP500 Non- Phthalate Plasticizer Non-phthalate plasticizer to replace general purpose phthalate plasticizers like DOP, DOTP and DINP. Drums, Totes and Bulk Available.
Spec: ChemFlexx NP500

NP600 Non- Phthalate Plasticizer Non-phthalate plasticizer to replace the general purpose phthalate plasticizers DIDP. Drums, Totes and Bulk Available.
Spec: ChemFlexx NP600

NatureFlexx 509 100% Phthalate Free General Purpose Plasticizer! This high molecular weight plasticizer is an excellent, phthalate free replacement for general purpose phthalate plasticizers like DINP, DOP, DOTP, Etc. Drums, Totes and Bulk Available.
Spec: NatureFlexx 509

Malic Acid A suttle and persistent sour in food applications as well as an excellent acidulant. New technical applications are being discovered as well. Food and Technical Grade material is in stock and immediately available. Packaging is 25 Kg. Bags, 2,000 lb. Supersacks and a 50% solution.
Spec: DL Malic Acid

Please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com or Tel: (401) 423- 3100 for more information.

We appreciate your taking the time to review this newsletter. We welcome your comments as well as contributions regarding our readers’ company/industry activities. Please send them to Bob Beavins at chemcobob@comcast.net

**Please note that all products are now in Alphabetical Order and many products are hyperlinked to their own information page.**

Critical Raw Materials Markets

At the end of each paragraph you will notice a symbol and the meaning of these symbols are as follows:

+ Denotes upward pricing momentum
\ Denotes stable pricing momentum
– Denotes downward pricing momentum

Benzene
US January Benzene contract settled up significantly $.56/ gallon to $3.84/ gallon (December $3.28/ gallon). This is just $.005/ gal. below it’s highest price for 2010. Spot prices are currently in the$4.07/ gallon range and moving higher. ++

Natural Gas
Natural gas in underground storage hit an all time high in early November. In response to recent cold weather, spot prices have increased significantly, especially New York and Florida. The Henry Hub spot price was reported at $4.50/MMBtu.+

Oil
Oil continues to increase. Current spot prices in the $92/bbl range; futures are similar. +

Orthoxylene
January contracts settled at $.51/lb, a rollover from December. \

Propylene
January contracts were up $0.17/ lb. for Polymer Grade and $.15/ lb. for Chemical Grade. January prices will be $.74/lb for chemical Grade and $.775/lb. for polymer grade. +

Chemicals Markets

Adipic Acid:
There is continued pressure from Benzene and this will inevitably lead to price increases. Availability remains limited due good global demand and rationalization in 2010. Demand has been slow for the end of Q4 and beginning of Q1 but this is expected to quickly change. Lower priced offers from China are no longer available. +

Ammonia:
January business for Tampa was fixed at US$475/ metric ton up $15/ ton from December. An increase for February is expected. +

Ammonium Nitrate:
AN prices have moved up $25- $50/ ton due to the higher priced ammonia we’ve seen over the last few months. Seasonal demand will kick in shortly and this will also pressure price. There has been some recent rationalization which could lead to availability issues once this demand season kicks in +

Antimony Trioxide:
Antimony prices are moving up again as end users return to the market with cautious demand. Buyers are reporting record pricing in excess of US$5.30/ lb. and moving higher. Most industry experts feel US pricing will continue to be under pressure in Q1 as Chinese production will be limited. Many consumer are currently looking at alternative chemistries. +

Dicyandiamide:
Prices leveled and consumers responded with orders thus pressuring availability for the short term. The Chinese New Year will delay shipments for approximately 1-2 weeks. There is pressure from the Chinese Government to stop Dicyandimaide production due to its ill effects on the environment. /+

Epoxidized Soybean Oil:
Soy Bean Oil pricing is once again under pressure from feedstocks. Prices have moved up for January and more increases are expected in the coming months. +

Fumaric Acid:
FA Pricing has leveled yet butane values continue to keep cost under pressure. Global operating levels have normalized. /+

Glycol (Mono, Di and Tri):
No announcements were made for January. Demand is seasonally slow yet inventories are balanced. Spot MEG is in the US$.45/ lb. range and steady. We have heard of one 4 cts/ lb. increase announcement for Feb 1. /+

DEG prices are holding with heavy export demand from Europe. No increase announcements were made for January. Spot pricing for December was in the US$0.54-0.57/lb range. December postings are pegged at US$.66/ lb.

Triethylene Glycol pricing remains in the 90’s. The cold weather has finally arrived increasing demand for gas dehydration. /

Isophthalic Acid:
Pricing has leveled and availability has improved. Some imports are available at slightly lower pricing /

Maleic Anhydride:
January saw another price increase of US$.03/ lb. Feedstock pressure (Butane) remains the largest driver for the recent increases. +

Malic Acid:
Malic Acid supply remains tight although availability has improved. Cost pressure from feedstock butane is also an issue. TCC has Malic Acid in stock and available. /+

Melamine:
Melamine availability remains an issue. Pricing is also under pressure from escalating Urea cost. Global operating issues and feedstock costs have motivated price increase announcements for Jan 1, 2011.+

Methanol:
The Methanex Non-Discounted Reference Price for January decreased by 0.03/gal to US$1.35/ gallon. The decrease was based on lower spot prices, good operating rates on global capacity and demand that does not meet the overall production volume at this time. Spot has steadily moved lower over the last couple of months with offers currently in the $.96- $1.03/ gallon range. But there has been some recent activity signaling possible higher spot numbers in coming weeks. A roll or decrease in contract pricing is expected for February 2011.

Notes:

  • The EMethanex plant in Egypt is in the commissioning stage. Commercial quantities are expected soon.
  • There are no major operational issues in the Western Hemisphere to report on at this time.
  • Demand for seasonal applications has finally started to materialize.
  • Some regional availability issues are noted due to shipment delays.

Nitric Acid:
Nitric Acid pricing is under pressure due to increased ammonia cost. Demand is good. Price increase announcements are noted for January 2011. +

Phenolic Resins:
Pricing is under pressure due to underlying feedstock costs. Demand is improving. Pricing is under pressure and will likely continue to increase in Q1, 2011. +

Phthalic Anhydride:
Orthoxylene contract pricing has rolled for January yet a $.03/ lb. increase was announced by at least one major. /+

Plasticizers and Plasticizer Alcohols:
Plasticizer pricing is under pressure from underlying feedstock costs. (i.e. propylene, ethylene, phthalic anhydride)

Increases are noted for Jan 1, 2011 on all plasticizers and for Feb. 1, 2011 for all general purpose, specialty, non-phthalate and phthalate free products.

Branched and Linear alcohols supply has improved but remain tight, especially 2-EH and Isononyl Alcohol. +

Note: Many plasticizers have limited availability. Please contact TCC for further details.

TCC Plasticizers available:

 

Phthalate:

 

Styrene monomer:
Styrene pricing moved higher in January as benzene values move up. Much higher prices are expected for February as Benzene prices reach record levels. \+

Urea:
Urea prices are once again pushing higher on good demand and higher global values. Prices climbed throughout Q4 and into January. Demand is expected to really kick in soon as farmers return to the fields. NOLA Urea is in the $380- $383/ ton range and moving up. +

Notes:

  • North Amercia is expected to plant 90 million acres of corn in 2011. Corn is heavily fertilized.
  • Venezuela’s Fertintiro Ammonia/ Urea plant is down.
  • Urea demand for Diesel Exhaust Fluid is expected to significantly increase over the next two years.

For more information on these or any of the products and services provided by TCC please contact Robb Roach directly at Robb@thechemco.com or go to our web site at thechemco.com

Chemical Industry News

REACH regulations went into force on December 1, 2010 with reporting requirements for any substances manufactured or imported in amounts over 1,000 MT/year. Initial reports indicate that the European chemical industry has coped well, with no major problems encountered. The next phase in 2013 will require registration of all substances over 100 MT/year. This could cause problems for small or medium sized businesses that do not have the resources for REACH compliance.

As of December 8, Rhodia’s Chalampe, France plant declared force majeure affecting production of KA oil, adipic acid, nylon salt and polymer.

Dow Chemical plans to boost its ethane cracking capacity in the US Gulf by up to 30% over the next three years in order to capitalize on available natural gas supply. In 2011 Dow will introduce building integrated photovoltaic Powerhouse Solar Shingles. The shingles could provide about half of the electricity for an average home, according to Dow.

Styron, the former styrenics unit of Dow Chemical, launched eight new products, including an environmental stress-crack resistant grade of polystyrene to line refrigerators.

Discharges of hazardous substances in the US fell to 3.37 billion pounds in 2009, a decline of 12% from 2008 according to the annual Toxics Release Inventory report from the EPA.

Ashland and Marathon completed an agreement on November 30 for the purchase of Marathon’s maleic anhydride plant in West Virginia.

The US government has filed a civil suit against BP and its partners over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the cost of restoration. BP said that it will answer the government’s allegations in a timely manner.

BASF recently completed its €3.1 billion acquisition of specialty chemicals producer Cognis. BASF plans to integrate most of Cognis into its performance products segment.

BASF and Sinopec have signed an MOU to evaluate further expansion of BASF-YPC in Nanjing, China. Total investment could be as much as $1 billion.

Rockwood Holdings will sell its AlphaGary business to Mexichem for $300 million in cash. Mexichem has continued its PVC market presence through acquisitions including purchase of Bayshore Vinyl.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) debate goes on. At year-end, the American Council on Science and Health issued a report entitled “The Top Ten Unfounded Health Scares of 2010,” in which BPA headed the list. The bottom line from the ACSH was that environmentalist activist groups have wrested the control of the truth about BPA from science to serve their own goals. Trace amounts of BPA have been found on US paper currency and biomonitoring data show exposure is low. The Massachusetts Public Health Council on December 15 voted to ban the sale and manufacture of baby bottles and sipping cups containing BPA, but turned away a push by environmental activists for more sweeping restrictions on the use of chemical. The Maine Board of Environmental Protection approved a plan to classify BPA as a priority toxic chemical under state law. The ACC stated that data doesn’t justify the decision. The results of the $30 million study by the FDA aren’t expected until 2012.

Archer Daniels Midland announced that it offers isosorbide, a corn-based product that is a potential alternative to BPA. It is not yet approved for food contact use.

Senator Jay Rockefeller D-W.VA ended his effort to seek a Senate vote in 2010 on a bill that would prevent the EPA from issuing its own set of climate rules. It’s expected that this will be a major issue in the new Congress.

The EPA plans to move ahead full speed with new Greenhouse Gas emission rules. They will include emissions from renewable biomass energy in the same manner as fossil fuels. The negative impact could shut down a number of projects and cost thousands of jobs.

New carbon emissions limits to be put forth by the EPA are seen by some as a backdoor effort to enact the administration’s global warming agenda without the support of Congress. Some House Republicans have floated the possibility of using the Congressional Review Act, a legislative option to veto agency regulations, to halt the EPA’s climate change regulations.

The ACC remains committed to updating the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 and to working with the Congress in the upcoming session. According to ACC data, US chemistry exports for 2010 will be up by 17%, shifting the trade balance for the industry from a $0.1 billion deficit to a $3.7 billion surplus, its best performance in 10 years.

After former Vice President Al Gore said that support for corn-based ethanol in the US was “not a good policy” the tax credits were renewed for one year as part of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010. The $.45/gallon ethanol excise tax credit, the $.10/gallon small ethanol producer tax credit on corn ethanol were due to expire on December 31, as was the $.54/gallon tariff on cheaper imported ethanol. It’s estimated that the cost will be ~$6 billion. Opposition to extending subsidy and tariff came from meat and food producers, environmental groups, and consumer organizations. Their argument is that corn ethanol production drives up the cost of food. The ethanol industry welcomed the renewal.

Richard Branson has said that 100% of Virgin Group’s aviation profits are being reinvested in fuel research and that the company is perhaps three to five years away from flying aircraft powered by biofuels.

Recent Mexican court decisions appear to have finally opened the way for Pemex to be able to work with private oil firms for the first time in a number of years. It is hoped that the exploration sector will be rejuvenated and increasing production rates.

French oil company Total, through its partner Amyris, is planning joint ventures with Brazilian companies to produce biochemicals from sugar cane. Total expects to acquire five to ten percent of Brazil’s cane output by 2020.

Shell and Russia’s Gazprom recently signed an agreement on strategic global cooperation. Opportunities to be considered are further hydrocarbons exploration and production, cooperation in the downstream oil products business in Russia and Europe, and Gazprom participation in Shell upstream projects outside of Russia.

On December 17 Novartis signed a MOU with the Russian government to build a pharmaceutical facility. The cost of the plant has not been announced.

Effective December 1, Russia raised export duty on crude oil as well as propane, butane, ethylene, propylene and other liquefied gases.

China and Russia have agreed to utilize their own currencies to conduct bilateral trade and no longer will use the US dollar.

A Chinese government official has said that China’s inflation may exceed 5 to 6 percent in some months of 2011, and may be between 4 and 5 percent for the entire year.

Halliburton started voluntarily naming the chemicals that it uses in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by establishing a website that the company claims shows the three most used chemical fracking solutions in Pennsylvania. The American Petroleum Institute supports a plan to divulge voluntarily the chemicals used in fracking and to create a state-based chemical disclosure registry.

The Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission recently ruled that oil and natural gas producers that use fracking for their wells to disclose the composition of the chemicals they use on a well by well basis, by January 15, 2011. Producers will not have to disclose the actual chemical makeup of proprietary treatments but will have to include relevant data that would be found on a standard MSDS format. Some drillers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale have been detailing the makeup of fracking fluids on each new well, listing proprietary compounds by brand names.

Bayer is encouraging chemical manufacturers to build an ethylene cracker on an unused part of its West Virginia site in order to utilize the ethane supply from nearby shale gas deposits.

The US law banning ordinary incandescent light bulbs has had a negative impact on the American economy; GE has closed its last major bulb producing factory in the country. The compact fluorescent lights (CFL) are an alternative but the manufacture is labor intensive and too expensive for US wage rates. CFL’s are manufactured in China and increasing American demand is expected to create new jobs there. The CFL’s contain small amounts of toxic mercury. Three members of Congress introduced a bill that would repeal the ban.

UPS reported third quarter revenue of $12.9 billion, an increase of 9.3% year to year. Operating profit for the same period was up 74% at $1.6 billion. UPS announced rate increases averaging 4.9% effective January 3, 2011. UPS rates for 2011 will include a net increase of 4.9% for ground and air shipments. Also effective January 3, 2011 divisor used to calculate dimensional weight will change.

FedEx recently announced rate increases for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery units by an average of 4.9% which will take effect on January 3, 2011.

The Association of American Railroads reported that November monthly carloads were up 4.5% from November 2009, but down from the same month in 2008. Intermodal shipments continue to increase, showing a gain of 11.3% November, year to year.

Leading LTL carrier executives have reported that the sector’s outlook is brightening with rate increases that appear to have taken effect in the past twelve months.

With the change of control in the House there is a feeling among trucking lobbyists and CEO’s that 2011 may be the year that some long term regulatory issues will be resolved in Washington. A major concern is driver hours of service.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) announced new international commercial terms (Incoterms) which came into effect on January 1, 2011 replacing the Incoterms 2000. The new rules have been updated in order to address the recent trends in global trade and practices. The current 13 Incoterms have been reduced to 11. Significant changes have been made to the terms, which are used when the goods are to be delivered to the buyer at the specified point in the buyer’s country, where the risk is passed to another party.

The Economy

The US government deficit for the first two months of fiscal 2011 was $283 billion, $14 billion less than the same period a year earlier.

The American Chemistry Council projects that overall US chemical production volumes will increase by 3.1% in 2010 compared to declines of 4.7% and 4.5% in the previous two years. Because of an increase of 16.8% in exports this year, the US 2010 $100 million trade deficit in chemicals will shift to a surplus of $3.7 billion. Low cost natural gas from shale has been a major contributor to this turnaround. The ACC forecast for 2011 calls for chemical output to increase by 3.0%.

The National Association for Business Economics projects GDP growth sub-par through the first quarter of 2011, but accelerating gradually through the rest of the year. The NABE survey panel projects GDP growth of 2.7% in 2011.

On or about January 1, 2011, federal, state, and local tax rates were expected to rise sharply. President George W. Bush’s tax cuts expired on that date, meaning that the federal income tax rates, dividend taxes, and capital gains taxes would have gone up significantly. President Obama and Republican leadership reached a last minute compromise to avoid this.

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index increased 1.1% in November to 112.4 (2004=100) following an adjusted 0.4 % increase in October and a 0.6% increase in September.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index which had improved in October and November decreased in December. It stands at 52.5 (1985=100) down from 54.3 in November. Analysts state that all signs continue to suggest that the economic expansion will continue into 2011.

The Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index registered at 57% in December, showing strength in autos, metals, food and electronics. This was the seventeenth consecutive monthly expansion.

In November, retail and food services sales adjusted for seasonal variations increased .8% from October and were 7.7% above a year earlier. Total sales for the September – November 2010 period were up 7.8% from the same period a year ago.

Privately owned housing starts in November of 530.000 were 4.0% below the revised October estimate of 552,000 and14.7% below the November 2009 rate of 621,000. Single family housing starts in November were at a rate of 465,000 or 6.9% above the revised October figure of 435,000.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in November decreased $2.6 billion or 1.3% to $193.7 billion. This decrease, down three of the last four months, followed an October decrease of 3.1%.

November unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods increased $3.4 billion or 0.4% to $825.7 billion and followed a .7% October increase. This indicator has been up ten of the last eleven months.

Consumer Price Index increased 0.1% in November. In the last twelve months, the index for all items increased 1.1% before seasonal adjustments. During the same period, the index for all items less food and energy rose 0.8%. The energy index rose 3.9% with the gasoline index up 7.3% while the food index rose 1.5%.

Interest rate: Prime at 3.25%, unchanged since 12/16/08.

Inflation: Annual inflation rate was 1.1% for November.

Unemployment: November 9.8% after 9.6% in each of the previous three months.

Trade Deficit: For October 2010 the goods and services deficit decreased to $38.7 billion from an adjusted $44.6 billion in September as imports decreased and exports increased.

Crude Oil: Currently trading in the $90’s/bbl, range. Global oil demand for 2011 is forecast at an increase of 1.6% over 2010. OPEC noted that markets were well supplied. The CEO of Gulf Oil was recently quoted as saying that the price could approach $150/bbl by mid-year.

Natural Gas: The Marcellus shale gas basin is estimated to hold enough reserves to meet US demand for more than a decade. There is increasing environmental concern regarding “fracking” chemicals used to extract the gas.

Industrial production increased 0.4% in November after a decrease of 0.2% in October. Total industrial production in November was 5.4% above its level of a year earlier. Capacity utilization rate for total industry in November rose to 75.2 %, and 5.4 % below 1972 – 2009 average.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis third estimate of third quarter Gross Domestic Product showed a gain of 2.6% from the second quarter. This compares to an increase of 1.7% in the second quarter.

The US dollar trading at 81.6 yen. $1.33 = euro. The British pound sterling = $1.54.

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