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BMI View: The Polish petrochemicals industry is facing plenty of downside risk as a result of the potential
effects of a Brexit-induced slowdown in manufacturing exports. Already, petrochemicals margins are under
pressure and some polymer segments, notably polyethylene, saw declines in production in H116.
Nevertheless, the industry is investing in new capacity, with 100,000tpa of extra polymer-grade propylene
capacity available from 2018.
Polish petrochemicals producer PKN Orlen has pledged to expand propylene capacity to 550,000 tonnes
per annum (tpa), a decision that appears to be justified by the 7.2% y-o-y growth in polypropylene output to
135,000 tonnes in H116. Overall plastic output rose 4.7% over the period. However, the local market in
other polymers has come under pressure, with polyethylene output down 3.0% y-o-y to 192,100 tonnes and
polyvinyl chloride (PVC) down 13.5% to 140,500 tonnes.
In terms of feedstock for polymer production, ethylene output down 2.3% y-o-y to 272,000 tonnes, while
propylene production was down 0.5% to 197,000 tonnes. As a result, while propylene capacity utilisation
was a healthy 87.6%, ethylene utilisation was just 71.5%.
A 47% rise in oil prices also raised the cost of Poland's naphtha and gasoil supply, which represent 75% and
25%, respectively, of cracker feedstock capacity. Consequently, petrochemicals margins fell 7.6% between
January and June to EUR970/t.