Natural gas prices fell Wednesday on warmer weather forecasts for the next two weeks.
Crude prices dipped on concerns about COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia and the West and a rise in stockpiles. In mid-day trading today, the WTI was down 0.3% at $53.16/bbl, and Brent was up 0.1% at $56.11/bbl. Natural gas was down 2.5% at $2.47/MMBtu.
The pandemic claimed 107 U.S. oil and gas companies that filed for bankruptcy in 2020, fewer than the 142 bankruptcies during the industry collapse in 2016 but involving significantly higher indebtedness.
The International Energy Agency again cut forecasts for global oil demand in 2021, predicting a 600,000 bpd decrease on the effects of lockdowns and production cuts.
Many supertanker owners are losing money transporting oil from the Arab Gulf to China, a result of more oil tankers on the market and production cuts in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter.
Saudi Aramco may be understating its carbon emissions in official reporting by as much as 50%.
Renew Oceans, an initiative founded in 2019 and sponsored by some of the world’s leading petrochemicals companies, has ceased operations, failing to achieve its goal of stemming the flow of plastic waste from the Ganges River into the Indian Ocean.
Logistics conditions remain strained, with trucking demand exceeding availability, continuing congestion at ports, and backlogs at warehousing and packaging facilities due in part to operating challenges related to the pandemic. Shipping containers are in short supply, with demurrage charges rising. Clients are advised to provide expanded lead times on orders to help ensure delivery dates.
The CDC expects total deaths in the U.S. to top 500,000 by mid-February, a 100,000 increase in less than a month. The death rate is expected to dip thereafter based on recent downward trends in weekly cases and hospitalizations.
Restaurant chains are reporting a sales bump after the most recent federal stimulus put $600 dollars into the pockets of many Americans.
Over three-quarters of respondents to a survey of online shoppers said they prefer paper packaging to plastic, with two-thirds indicating they would be more apt to buy products and brands with plastic-free packaging.
The U.K. recorded more than 1,800 one-day COVID-19 fatalities, a record. New credit card purchases in the country are down 35% from pre-pandemic levels, underscoring the economic impact of the coronavirus.
Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the highly infectious U.K. strain of COVID-19, new research shows, while other research suggests vaccinated people and formerly infected patients could be susceptible to reinfection by the virulent new virus strain from South Africa.
The benefits of AstraZeneca/Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine — no dilution requirements or post-shot patient monitoring for severe allergic reactions — has allowed the U.K. to vaccinate more than half of its nursing home population.
China, the only nation that experienced GDP growth in 2020, saw growth in domestic consumption lag increases in the industrial and export sectors, suggesting its economic recovery was highly unbalanced.
International tennis players, some from global COVID-19 hotspots, flew in droves to Australia last week ahead of the Australian Open, a stark contrast to the thousands of Australian nationals who are stuck overseas due to the nation’s restrictive measures for inbound passengers.
Our Market Managers report that tight supplies of many products continue to affect most plastics markets:
Automotive: Automakers are being challenged to satisfy rising demand by tight resin supplies, rising materials costs and a global shortage of computer chips, which is causing spot production disruptions. Electric vehicle interest and investment is robust from both legacy automotive producers and startups.
Color & Compounding: Activity continues to improve, but overcapacity persists depending on markets served. Consolidation trends also continue, particularly in the masterbatch industry. Demand is growing for sustainable products.
Electrical & Electronics: Demand for home electronics and computers remains strong, with shortages of computer chips impacting value chains. We continue to see some reshoring of production from Asia as manufacturers seek greater supply chain security.
Healthcare: The resurgence of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are driving a corresponding spike in demand for hospital disposables, testing supplies and personal protective equipment, with some reshoring of production from Asia for such products.
International: Supply chains and ports are congested, with an imbalance in containers creating havoc and driving up costs, particularly from Asia to destinations in the West. China will celebrate the Lunar New Year in February, which should briefly slow manufacturing and exports.
Packaging: Demand for packaging and single-use applications remains steady. The recent spike in COVID-19 infections has stimulated demand for staples and food products. We are seeing increasing inquiries about sustainability solutions.
Sustainable Products: We have expanded our Sustainability team and line card in response to growing demand for sustainable products and solutions from most end markets.
Wire & Cable: We continue to see strong demand from the telecommunications, renewable energy and home construction markets. Demand from the oil and gas and infrastructure segments remains soft.
3D Printing: We continue to invest in our 3D Printing business unit, adding staff, relocating to a larger facility and expanding our product line in response to growing industrial interest in the technology.
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