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Liquid bulk chemical volumes rise at Port of Antwerp despite COVID-19

May 21/2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Liquid bulk chemicals freight volumes at Port of Antwerp, Belgium, have risen slightly year on year (YOY) for the first four months of 2020, despite the growing impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, reported Chemweek.

Freight volumes of liquid chemical products grew by 0.6% YOY over the four-month period, although overall liquid bulk freight volumes fell by 2.5% YOY due mainly to lower demand for oil derivatives, says the Antwerp Port Authority (APA). Freight volumes of liquid bulk chemicals at the port had grown by 4% YOY for the first three months of 2020.

Imposed international restrictions and lockdowns in response to the pandemic were reflected by falling total freight volumes handled at the port in April, although the total for the first four months of the year was still up 0.4% compared with the prior-year period, it says. Container volumes in April fell compared with the same month last year but TEUs (twenty-foot-equivalent units) grew 6.1% YOY over the first four months of 2020, it notes. "The consequences of canceled sailings will make themselves felt in the remainder of the second quarter. On the other hand, there was a strong increase in empty boxes bound for China, which is a sign of recovery in production there," the APA says.

The breakbulk sector, with steel as the most important product, was hit particularly hard by the worldwide disruptions in trade and the shutdown of industries around the world, it says. The sector fell by 15.7% YOY in April, and by almost 30% for the first four months of the year. Roll-on/roll-off volumes fell by over 16% YOY for the first four months due to the lack of production in the automotive industry, with imports and exports of cars "at a standstill," it adds. "The impact of lackluster demand due to the corona crisis will make itself felt more strongly in the coming months, says the APA.

As MRC wrote before, in mid-April 2020, dozens of tankers holding jet fuel and gasoline were at anchor in sea lanes around Europes main storage hubs, unable to discharge their cargoes as onshore tanks were full to capacity following the collapse in demand linked to the coronavirus crisis. Nearly 1 million tonnes of refined products were parked on around 30 tankers off Europes coast, Reuters calculations found.

Earlier this year, BP said the deadly coronavirus outbreak could cut global oil demand growth by 40 per cent in 2020, putting pressure on Opec producers and Russia to curb supplies to keep prices in check.

We remind that, in September 2019, six world's major petrochemical companies in Flanders, Belgium, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and the Netherlands (Trilateral Region) announced the creation of a consortium to jointly investigate how naphtha or gas steam crackers could be operated using renewable electricity instead of fossil fuels. The Cracker of the Future consortium, which includes BASF, Borealis, BP, LyondellBasell, SABIC and Total, aims to produce base chemicals while also significantly reducing carbon emissions. The companies agreed to invest in R&D and knowledge sharing as they assess the possibility of transitioning their base chemical production to renewable electricity.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 557,060 tonnes in the first three month of 2020, up by 7% year on year. High density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) shipments rose because of the increased capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim. Demand for LDPE subsided. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market was 267,630 tonnes in January-March 2020, down 20% year on year. Homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers accounted for the main decrease in imports.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:Europe, PP, PE, LLDPE, crude and gaz condensate, PP block copolymer, homopolymer PP, propylene, LDPE, HDPE, ethylene, petrochemistry, BASF, Borealis, BP Plc, LyondellBasell, Sabic, Total Petrochemicals, Rossiya.
Category:General News
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