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U.S Sanctions on Iran

U.S Sanctions on Ira...

The president of the United States , Donald Trump, had pledged to be tough on Iran during his presidential campaign. Since the time he became the President, Trump has stayed true to his words by reinstating the sanctions on Iran in 2018, making it an unfortunate year for the country.In May 2018, under the instructions of the President, the U.S. pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which was signed with Iran and announced that the sanctions would return in two phases. The sanction related to the crude oil, which serves as Iran’s economic lifeline, was reintroduced towards the end of 2018. It is widely believed that the sanction could have been worse for business in Iran had the U.S. not granted waivers to eight significant importers like China, India and Japan, who account for the highest amount of Iranian crude oil.As the U.S. and Iran remain embroiled in controversies, economists, politicians and analysts are awaiting the latest developments before making critical business decisions. The oil market in the recent history had proved to be somewhat conservative which was evident when the world markets factored in sharp declines in the oil production of Iran after Donald Trump had aggressively threatened sanctions on Iran. Post the threats, the markets were forced to recalculate once generous waivers were handed out to some of the biggest oil customers of Iran. Experts believe that the oil market has the potential of being extremely volatile throughout 2019 owing to the sanctions. Many even think that there is a strong possibility that some of the waivers that are applicable now, may not be available to Iran sometime in the future.The sanctions have already proved to be harmful to the economy of Iran and their effect could be even more damaging in the future. A state of economic shock has engulfed the country as several foreign companies have withheld new investments or hinting that they may be exiting soon. Numerous companies are also worried that their continued association with Iran may put them in a position where they may no longer have access to the U.S. market or they will be excluded from the dollar-based financial system.The Iranian oil market had already witnessed a decline of over 1 million barrels per day between June to September. It fell from 2.7 million barrels per day in June to approximately 1.7 or 1.9 million barrels per day in September. In addition to this, there has been a marked increase in unemployment in the region coupled with the issue of rapid inflation. It is therefore understandable that the Iranian Rial has slumped in the recent months.Different affected countries have looked to find measures and counter this problem. India adopted a unique strategy of using escrow accounts in banks of Iran for the payment of Iranian crude oil. Further, the payments were made in Indian Rupees, thereby avoiding punitive action from the U.S. In addition to this, it was ensured that the payment was spread across five banks to reduce the risk of adding sanctions by the U.S on any one of the banks.Meanwhile, the European Union too has shown interest in continuing business with Iran and are considering creating a mechanism for the purpose. The Government will soon generate a new payment system so that it will continue the business relations with Iran without punitive measures from the U.S. This move has however been criticized by the U.S. and has been labeled as a counterproductive measure for global peace and security.Related Links:;
Malaysian Palm Oil Prices to Recover in 2019
Kanika Sharma

Malaysian Palm Oil P...

Palm oil is primarily a variant of vegetable oil that is derived from the mesocarp of the fruit of the oil palms. Being a saturated type, this oil provides several advantages that makes it one of the most preferred vegetable oils among consumers. Multiple studies have confirmed that palm oil has the power to reduce stress, boost brain health, fight heart diseases, improve skin health and increase Vitamin A in the body. Hence, palm oil undoubtedly enjoys a high position among health-conscious people around the globe. The countries situated in the tropical belt are the primary producers of palm oil. However, not all countries are able to produce it as the plantation of the same requires certain specifications regarding climate conditions. Malaysia and Indonesia are the two major producers of palm oil in the eastern part of the world. The production scores so high that both countries have the capacity to export to the other parts of the world.The determinants of the price componentThe price of palm oil has a direct connection with the economic and trade dimension of the world. Some of the vital factors that decide the price of palm oil are - productions with respect to supplies, the exchange rate movements, the number of exports and the volume of business in a year. According to the statistics, the last three years have seen a steady pace in palm oil prices. However, the forecasts say that the prices are expected to show a better and moderate pace during the year 2019. The lower production levels, uncongenial weather conditions and withering plantations have been the primary reasons for the low palm oil prices in the Malaysian market. Contrary to this, the Indonesian palm oil prices have managed to maintain a steady pace so far. Positive aspects that are expected to stabilize the pricesIt has been firmly stated in many market predictions that as India is suffering from a lowered level of oilseed production, the demand for importing the seeds will be higher in the coming years. This will surely help in pegging up the prices of palm oil. India is one of the major importers of palm oil from Malaysia and the demand is anticipated to inevitably increase in the year 2019. India, with an expectation to increase its oilseed import by 15.15 million tons in 2019, will account for 10 million tons for palm oil only.Though the demand has already been assured, the supply chain needs confirmation as well. Malaysia is expected to register a growth in the production level of palm oil. Since the new plants are maturing, the overall production is sure to experience a boost. Though there is always a bunch of old and withering plants involved that eats up the bandwidth of production potential nonetheless, the net production is still expected to rise. Accounts show that the output is expected to rise by approximately 2 million tons, thereby increasing the export volume by 0.5 million tons. Although the prices of palm oil has been wavering in the last three years, with a favorable weather condition and fast maturing plantations, they are expected to show a recovery in the year 2019.Related links:;
Commencement of Sasol’s First Polyethylene Production Plant Under LCCP Project
Abhishek Singh

Commencement of Saso...

Sasol is a much-recognized chemical company all over the world in the field of polymer production. As the global demand for plastics has increased rapidly, Sasol has become a major contributor to the industry of polymers with their quality products and state-of-the-art technologies. Recently, the Company has proclaimed that the first of their seven production facilities under the LCCP project has attained beneficial operations. According to Mike Thomas, Senior Vice President of the North American wing operation at Sasol, the initiation of a fresh project for manufacturing low-density PE is going to be a fundamental movement in the work history of Sasol.Beneficial Prospects of the ProjectThe establishment of the new plant will enhance the turnover of the company. The reasons why the top management is looking forward to the potential success of this project is that the company already enjoys a cost-competitive position in the market that can be further capitalized to make a fortune for the new venture. The new facility is expected to support the pre-existing pool of production of polymers in order to meet the global demand. In the long term, the company is expected to show promising results with its state-of-art assets, world-scale and advantageous logistics location. The first unit (470ktpa LLDPE) that is about to start its production line up will be using Univation Technologies’ UNIPOL PE process. Whereas, the next round (420ktpa LLDPE) that is scheduled to start the production later this year will use ExxonMobil technology. With two running production units, Sasol is sure to set a new benchmark for itself by the end of the next year in terms of volumes generated in the polyethylene industry. Profitable Outlook As far as the market speculations and the management forecasting are concerned, Sasol is expected to grow with its recent launch of the LCCP unit project worth $11 Billion. Along with the pre-existing line of production of high-density PE, this LDPE will also catch hold of the market soon as Sasol is one of the primary suppliers in this domain with global recognition. According to the officials, the project will start operating in the year 2019 and the entire process of the project launch will be over by early 2020. Hence, the company is looking forward to serve the market immediately after they start the new stream of production. With updated technologies, talented pool of employees and excellent management, Sasol is all set to make history for them.Related Links:;
Carol Smith

Asia Propylene Marke...

Several developments in the Asian propylene market in the last quarter of 2018 meant that its effects were expected to spiral into the early part of 2019. Towards the end of the calendar year, many top companies in north-eastern Asia completed their individual turnarounds, which resulted in a gradual lengthening during the Q4 of 2018. The most obvious example of such an occurrence was in Japan where JXTG Nippon Oil and Energy restarted the Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) unit on December 20th post the planned maintenance process. Prior to this, the unit remained shut towards the end of October for a similar maintenance drive. Another major region for propylene market is China, where the demand remained on-need basis only during the final three months of 2018. This period was heavily impacted by the losses suffered by spot prices which saw most buyers either opting to purchase from domestic suppliers or adopting a wait and watch policy if they could afford to so. Apart from the Chinese market, the market in Taiwan too ended the year on a not so positive note as they witnessed a sharp fall in demand for cargoes. The domestic supply was plenty till CPC suffered a sudden outage at the Residue Catalytic Cracker (RFCC) at Dalin, two weeks before the year ended. Many experts opined that these accidents would have a significant impact on the initial trends of the market in 2019, whereas, many remained hopeful, that some of the markets will witness a quick turnaround, ensuring that business continues as usual. One of the main reasons for optimism among the market players is that it is expected that there will be significant supply during the first three months in 2019 in Japan and South Kore, despite there being a chance of shortening length owing to the planned maintenance work at Hyosung’s 350,000 tonnes per year propane dehydrogenation unit in South Korea. This, along with other factors will ensure stable demand for propylene in Asia towards the beginning of the year with cautious trading happening with expectations of re-stocking activities to commence by Lunar New Year. However, the Lunar New Year could also hamper the business in the region, as many believe that post the Lunar New Year celebrations and the holiday season, it could take about 15 to 30 days for several downstream units in China to restart.  Scheduled new plant start-ups during the initial period of 2019 provide further assurance that supply will be able to meet the demands. These start-ups will ensure that the supply is not hampered by the seasonal cracker turnarounds in several Asian regions. The Zhejiang Satellite Petrochemical Company Limited’s 450,000 metric tons per year PDH (Propane Dehydrogenation) plant, and Fujian Meide Petrochemical Company Limited’s 660,000 metric tons per year PDH plant in China will start-up in early 2019, promising a steady supply throughout the year. Over in the Southeast Asian country, Malaysia, the Petronas Aramco RAPID project is also due to commence a brand-new petrochemical refinery plant this year. It is anticipated that this RFCC will be able to produce propylene of about 600,000 metric tons every year and it should be operational within 2019 Q1. Further, its cracker is expected to start later in the year and should have capacity produce of 600,000 metric tons per year. The market, however, still remains at risk of being hampered by the US-China trade war developments. To the relief of many, both the parties have announced a truce for 90 days. During this period no additional tariffs would be introduced. The 90-day period ends on the 1st of March, 2019, following which changes could be made that could have some effect on the propylene market. Related Links:;
P&G to launch new waterless and plastic-free brand DS3

P&G to launch new wa...

US-based Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) giant, Procter & Gamble, has planned to launch a unique waterless and plastic-free beauty brand DS3 in 2019. It is a tremendous achievement for the research and development team of the company as it has introduced a proprietary technology to the segment.DS3 will include a whole range of sustainable-oriented, plastic-free and waterless home and personal care products like cleansing bars that are specially designed for the body, face and hair. These products are convenient as well as environment-friendly due to their proprietary manufacturing process. The procedure ensures that water is completely eliminated from the end product. In addition to this, the packaging of the product will be biodegradable and recyclable as it will be created explicitly by formulators without using any harsh chemicals.As the consumers are now becoming more conscious about the environment, this launch is envisaged to gain traction rapidly in the near future. The rising demand for natural products and avoidance of plastic use have necessitated this type of change in the market. Depleting resources are also contributing to the demand for biodegradable products for instance, bamboo is substituting plastic containers in this line of products. It is expected that 8 sustainable and plastic-free products will be launched in the second half of the year. The line of products will include hand soap, shampoo, body wash, face wash, laundry detergent, conditioner, toilet cleaner and surface cleaner. The entire product range boast of 30 or more patents. These products will be sold in a solid state in the form of swatches which will be activated by the use of water. The removal of water from the products also provide an added advantage of reducing the total weight by 80%, net space by 70% and emissions by 75%. This technology also aims to remove preservatives and stabilizers which are present in almost all the products in this segment currently available in the market. As the format of the product size is expected to be small, it will be more convenient for the consumers to carry them during tours and travels. From a business perspective too, these products will prove to be beneficial as they will be cheaper and easier to ship to the respective retailers and consumers. The initial feedback from the select users have been overwhelmingly positive which augurs well for the creators and alike consumers. Overall, this technology promises to bring better, safer and more convenient personal care products to the market, which could prove to be highly beneficial for both the manufacturers and consumers, while being environment-friendly at the same time.Related Links:;
BASF cleared by EU to acquire Solvay’s Integrated Polyamide Business in Europe
Andrew Smith

BASF cleared by EU t...

BASF has recently been cleared by the European commission to acquire Solvay’s integrated polyamide business. The acquisition is expected to be finalised by the latter half of 2019 with both Solvay and BASF agreeing to address the commission’s anti-trust concerns. BASF had been seeking to buy Solvay’s integrated polyamide business assets in Asia, South America and Europe since 2017 for €1.6 billion. However, the deal had been stalled in Europe amidst the EU commission's concerns about fair competition.BASF had been asked by the EU anti-trust authorities to divest the various assets which form a part of the acquisition deal to prevent the German company from monopolising the EU market. The authorities were afraid that BASF’s acquisition of Solvay’s polyamide business will lead to a hike in nylon prices in the EU markets due to the reduction in the number of suppliers. The divestments of manufacturing and innovation assets required by the EU authorities was started by late 2018.According to the agreement signed by the two parties with the commission, BASF and Solvay will divest their production facilities across three European countries to a ‘single suitable’ buyer as required by the EU authorities. These production facilities include the polyamide 6,6/nylon 6,6 producing plants in Valence, France and Blanes, Spain as well as the plant in Gorzow, Poland which produces specialised polyamides. Hexamethylenediamine (HDM), hexamethylenediamine adipate salt (AH-salt), nylon 6,6 base polymer, nylon 6,6 engineering plastics and nylon 6 3D printing powder are also produced at these plants. Solvay and BASF have further committed to make the facilities in Chalampe, France a joint venture between the future buyer of the divested facilities and the BASF controlled merged entity that will emerge as result of the acquisition.The Chalampe production plant produces adipic acid, which is an upstream product required for the production of nylon 6,6. The EU commission also asked for long-term agreements for the supply of adiponitrile (ADN), which is another upstream product for nylon. This was a necessity in order to maintain the supply of raw materials required by the divested facilities.The EU authorities want to avoid a single entity from dominating the entire EU nylon market, especially with nylon finding its applications in multiple industries like textile and automobile industries. The remedy package that has been set by the EU will allow the creation of at least another large market player, and thus, giving the consumers more options.The German chemical manufacturer, BASF, has been reportedly looking to sell its debt as well as its plastics assets for €450 million with the help of Lazard investment bank to raise the capital for the intended acquisition. South Korea’s SK Innovation, China’s KingFa, and the owner of Ascend, a chemical producer, SK Capital are the potential buyers of these assets.Related links:;
Global Coal Outlook
Bhawna M

Global Coal Outlook

Global Coal OutlookThe global coal industry is surrounded by a large number of active suppliers trading a variety of qualities and creating new price indices. The demand and prices of coal keep fluctuating depending upon the need from different industries in both the developed and developing nations. Over the past few years, the industry has been witnessing a rough time with constant changes in the demand, supply and prices. Since the year 2014, the global demand for coal has dropped by 4.2%, nearly approaching the largest decline record of 1990-1992. This is largely a result of growing environmental concerns which have led to a significant shift towards cleaner fossil fuels like natural gas, particularly in the developed countries. Additionally, the confluence of lower gas prices and a surge in renewable as well as efficient energy sources dampened the consumption of coal. However, the prices of coal witnessed a surge in 2016 owing to the constant demand from Asian countries. China, which represents both the largest consumer and producer of coal, leads the market on prices. The continued economic reforms and energy transition in the country have been the key factors for the evolution in coal prices. Lately, China has implemented policies that aim at reducing harmful emissions; not only did it reduce the own-grown coal production but also decreased the imports. The consequent decline in the availability of coal resulted in an upsurge in the prices, not merely in China but worldwide with the coal prices rising from US$ 81.9/ton in Q3 to US$ 92/ton in Q4. Although China witnessed a rise in the coal demand in 2017, the uptick was still below the 2013 peak in coal consumption. However, this slight rise is not anticipated to prevail for long, thereby trivialising the chances for sustained growth.On the basis of exports, Indonesia has been one of the leading producers and exporters of coal. In the recent years, there has been a surge in the domestic consumption of coal owing to the Government’s initiatives for constructing various coal-fired power plants. In 2017, the prices of coal hiked from US$76/ton in Q1 to US$ 93/ton in Q4. This can be attributed to numerous factors including recovering crude oil prices, constant demand from China and India, and adverse weather in the region which hampered coal mining and shipping in the country. The future of coal is not promising as its consumption is projected to fall with the world moving towards greener energy sources, with the developed nations already reducing their dependence on coal. However, the market will be experiencing high growth in the developing nations owing to the augmented demand for electricity and industrialization. Nevertheless, if emerging countries slow their usage of coal-generated electricity for environmental and ethical reasons, this could put downward pressure on coal prices, thereby leading to the industry’s loss. ;