The novel coronavirus epidemic has been affected by the global outbreak, and demand for petrochemical products has declined sharply. Crude oil prices have dropped to low levels for many years, and this situation may last for months. In the face of this dilemma, Asian petrochemical producers are considering further production reduction.
Economic activities in most parts of the world have actually stopped due to the blockade and isolation measures taken by many countries to deal with the epidemic. Most countries in Asia have imposed partial or total closures, and Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore have recently imposed stricter restrictions on the movement of people. As the number of confirmed cases and deaths of coronavirus continue to increase, the closure period of major cities in the world is likely to exceed expectations.
Some downstream petrochemical plants are shutting down for maintenance ahead of time to cope with the substantial increase in inventory. At present, the risk of raw material procurement and petrochemical products sales has reached an unprecedented level. If we do wrong, the company will face bankruptcy. For those businesses with poor cash conditions, the only sensible thing to do is to minimize the level of unit operating rates, even at the risk of losing trading volume. Larger companies may gain more market share as a result, but it is extremely difficult to assess the remaining market.
For Asian cracking plant operators, the second quarter is usually the shutdown and overhaul season, and Japanese cracking plant operators are expected to carry out the shutdown and overhaul as scheduled.