COVID-19 Bulletin: December 16

December 16, 2021 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

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  • Oil prices remained mostly flat on Wednesday, balanced between signals of strong consumer demand and tightening U.S. economic policy. Futures were higher in late morning trading, with WTI up 2.1% at $72.39/bbl and Brent up 1.6% at $75.08/bbl. U.S. natural gas was 2.2% higher at $3.89/MMBtu. 
  • U.S. implied oil demand rose sharply last week, with the Energy Information Administration noting a larger-than-expected drop in crude inventories, an uptick in exports and a record 23.2 million bpd of product supplied by refineries. 
  • Global oil and gas supply is expected to surpass demand as soon as the first quarter of next year, according to many forecasts.
  • Chinese refiners operated at full force in November, boosting monthly output by several percentage points in a bid to combat a national shortage of diesel. 
  • India’s imports of Middle Eastern oil surged to 3.07 million bpd in November, an 11-month high accounting for three-quarters of the country’s total oil imports. 
  • Spain extended a tax cut on electricity bills until next May to help consumers deal with high energy costs, while Bulgaria froze power prices yesterday. 
  • U.S. onshore gas flaring in the third quarter fell to its lowest level in nearly a decade, as producers heed calls for minimizing emissions. 
  • New York City’s council approved a measure requiring new buildings with fewer than seven stories to use power sources other than oil or natural gas — presumably electricity — for heating, water and cooking by the end of 2023. The ban would take effect on taller buildings by 2027, as the nation’s most populous city takes a lead on climate-focused energy policy
  • Five large energy firms, including Shell and Equinor, have applied to build carbon dioxide storage projects offshore Norway. 
  • Italian utility Edison will spend $3.4 billion to increase its wind and solar capacity to 5 GW by 2030, more than double current capacity. 

Supply Chain

  • Production at GM’s Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is shut down this week due to damage from weekend tornados. 
  • Container imports at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach fell 10.1% in November despite rising queues, with port officials pointing to a larger-than-normal influx of smaller ships that are less efficient to unload. 
  • Port of Oakland import volumes rose an annual 6.5% in November, the first increase in two months after ships bypassed the port earlier this year due to excessive delays in Los Angeles and Long Beach. 
  • The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach held off on imposing new container dwell fees for a fifth straight week, as the cargo dwell time declined 47%. 
  • The ever-increasing size of container ships has contributed to U.S. supply chain logjams, analysts say. 
  • More than 145 bulk carriers are anchored off Indonesian coal ports as congestion grows over new quarantine restrictions. 
  • FedEx has completed a $72.2 million air cargo expansion project at Miami International Airport, boosting capacity and allowing more services to the Americas and Caribbean. 
  • The White House unveiled a plan that would quicken truck driver certifications and potentially revamp wages as part of a broader push to unclog supply chain bottlenecks. 
  • The U.K. will extend a grace period beyond Jan. 1 for imposing new checks on goods traded with Ireland, allowing more time to negotiate various post-Brexit measures with the EU. 
  • Toyota projects it will build a record 800,000 vehicles across the globe in January, as the automaker looks to make up for production losses from months of component shortages. 
  • Class 8 truck orders fell 41% in November to the lowest order total since 1995, as component shortages continue to hamper production. 
  • The car-carrier sector is projected to rebound with 9% growth in volumes next year as more automakers return to full production. 
  • Ryder System is adding 19 new distribution centers and bolstering its e-commerce operations with the $480 million acquisition of retail fulfillment and logistics provider Whiplash. 
  • Less-than-truckload carrier Estes Express Lines is looking to acquire drivers and equipment from Central Freight Lines, which recently shut down after 96 years of operation. 
  • Eastern Pacific Shipping plans to diversify its operations with the acquisition of Israel-based Golar’s LNG carrier fleet. 
  • European antitrust regulators are expected to veto Hyundai Heavy Industries’ proposed acquisition of rival Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. 
  • Production of palm oil, the world’s most-consumed edible oil, is at five-year lows in No. 2 grower Malaysia after the government shut borders and froze foreign hiring during the pandemic. 
  • Unusually warm temperatures have dented Greek olive oil production this year. 
  • U.S. farmers are warning of potentially higher food prices next year over surging costs for fertilizer, which have more than doubled the past year. 
  • Six leading marine insurers have joined the Poseidon Principles for Marine Insurance, an initiative linking underwritings with reduced carbon emissions from global shipping.  

Domestic Markets

International Markets

  • The U.K. reported 78,610 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, a record fueled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, which now tallies more than 10,000 current infections and 60% of cases in London. Brits will be required to show proof of vaccination to enter most large indoor venues. 
  • The COVID-19 Omicron variant is expected to be the dominant strain across Europe by mid-January. New research from Hong Kong suggests the strain may spread 70 times faster but bring significantly weaker symptoms than Delta. 
  • France, amid its worst COVID-19 wave of the pandemic, mandated COVID-19 boosters for people over age 65. 
  • Germany plans to spend an additional $2.5 billion to procure more COVID-19 vaccines after officials said the nation’s current supply is not enough to ward off another wave
  • Canadian officials are strongly recommending against international travel amid rising global COVID-19 cases. The nation’s largest bank also told most employees to continue working remotely. A hospital system in Alberta has placed more than 1,600 workers on unpaid leave over failure to get vaccinated. 
  • South Africa reported 26,976 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, a record. 
  • Amid record virus statistics, South Korea reintroduced strict pandemic lockdowns, including curfews on businesses and a four-person limit on private gatherings. 
  • Greece will require a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of touchdown for air travelers from the U.K. and Denmark. 
  • Australia ended a nearly two-year travel ban on incoming skilled migrants and foreign students due to pressing needs of the nation’s economy. 
  • EU regulators recommend a booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine just two months after the first dose. 
  • France’s Sanofi and the U.K.’s GlaxoSmithKline pushed back the release of data for their jointly developed COVID-19 booster dose until the first quarter of next year. 
  • Japan approved Moderna’s COVID-19 booster dose, its second approved booster. 
  • Moderna will build a new vaccine manufacturing plant in Australia’s Victoria state capable of producing up to 100 million shots per year when it goes live in 2024. 
  • The U.K.’s inflation rate surged to 5.1% in November, the fastest in a decade, prompting the nation’s central bank to make a surprise interest rate hike this morning for the first time in the pandemic. 
  • Activity in most parts of the eurozone’s services sector slowed in early December, while activity in Germany declined for the first time in eight months. 
  • Chinese industrial activity rose 3.8% in November from a year ago, one of the only bright spots in recent economic data signaling slowdowns in the national economy’s expansion. 
  • Investment spending in a collection of the world’s richest countries, including the U.S., fell a combined 0.8% from the second to the third quarter, new data suggests. 
  • Fitch Ratings lowered forecasts for global economic growth in 2021 by 0.3 percentage points to 5.7%, citing the impacts of rising inflation. 
  • Australia’s Qantas Airways chose Airbus over Boeing as the preferred supplier to replace its domestic fleet starting in 2023. 

At M. Holland

  • M. Holland’s 3D Printing group offers a rapid response alternative for producing selected parts where resin availability is tight during prevailing force majeure. For more information, email our 3D Printing team.
  • Market Expertise: M. Holland offers a host of resources to clients, prospects and suppliers across nine strategic markets.

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