The Urethane Blog

Urethane Updates from BASF Investors Call

Christian Faitz

Good morning Hans. I also take the two-question option, please. So first, can you please update us on current capacity outages, namely, how your operations in Texas were affected by the freeze and how your isocyanate units globally are presently running? Second question on ag. I mean, what can happen until the summer yet if my math is right, taking the current Brazilian real rate and comparing that to the average in the second half of last year, there’s not much of a currency impact. Hence, the big FOREX from 2020 at least an H2 you should not repeat itself. So why again, are you so cautious in significantly more robust agricultural markets that we currently see. Thanks.

Hans-Ulrich Engel

Good morning Christian. This is Hans. I’ll take both of your questions. First of all on the outages, as everyone else, we were hit by the freeze in the US Gulf Coast, a number of plants that are down, number of sites that are down, some of them back up some of them in the process of coming back. And this is based on the experience with the freeze in 2018, where it came four weeks earlier, middle of January and then 2012 where it was in the first week of February. It will take based on that experience about two to three weeks that the situation there shakes out that supply chains are stabilized. You know how closely interlinked and intertwined the production network is in the US Gulf Coast. And that’s what we’re currently expecting. Other than that, no major outages in January or in February, but you asked specifically with respect to isocyanates. And yes, the isocyanates plants in Geismar were affected, but based on what I heard yesterday, are back up and running smoothly. So that’s the current situation there.

Unidentified Analyst

And then the second question really is around upstream, if you can just give us some sense of how much capacity in your opinion currently is offline in cracker products regionally that will be very helpful. Thank you so much.

Hans-Ulrich Engel

Jaideep this is Hans. Thanks for your question on the outages in the upstream area. No, I don’t have the complete overview. What I can give you is the following. C2 capacity in North America depending on where you look and which market intelligence you trust looks like currently 60% to 70% of total capacity in North America affected LGs cracker after the fire in Korea is back on stream. Eneos which had – Eneos starting with an E not an I, in Japan had a cracker outage over quite some time. They are back into the system, so predominantly at this point in time, an issue with C2 capacity there in North America. Isocyanates which we are tracking closely, I look at the MDI plant outages and the TDI plant outages there around the globe, so as to be expected after the freeze all sides and will that be capacities in North America being affected, but our understanding is that they’re coming back on stream step by step. EMEA at this point in time both for MDI and for TDI looks okay, a number of scheduled turnarounds during Q2. And in Asia Pacific, if I see that correctly, that also looks more or less okay. I am aware of the situation with ammonia were 10 of the big global plants are at this point in time affected by either turnarounds or unplanned outages again, also due to the freeze in North America. Hope that picture helps a little bit in that description and explanation helps a little bit to put things in perspective.

Tony Jones

Yes, good morning Stefie, Hans and Martin, I had a question about cracker products. So propylene looks like it’s going to be very short in the first half even before the problems in the US, maybe also Europe and Asia. Could you talk about what you think that might mean for the BASF supply chain, whether that could cause any problems? And what do you think that might mean for margins across the division? And if I could maybe just sneak in: Any update on the timing of the oil and gas IPO would be great. Thank you.

Hans-Ulrich Engel

Tony, this is Hans. Thanks for your question. On C3, what do we see currently? I could go back to what I described already with respect to ethylene. It’s a North America situation because PDHs are down, in particular the enterprise PDH. Also, due to the run rates of the refineries, there is less propylene output there. And remains to be seen how this will develop as the PDH plants come back. Other than that, I am not aware of any major issues with respect to propylene outside of the US Propylene prices obviously have increased sharply since the middle of last year, to be expected in the kind of environment that we’re finding ourselves in.

You asked a question with respect what does that mean for your downstream divisions. Here is the general answer that I can give you, which is they have to cope with higher input prices, but at the same point in time, they are enjoying a significant increase in demand, which allows them to pass on these kind of raw material price increases. Sometimes with a bit of a time delay, but overall it’s an environment where they can pass-on the price increases that they get on the raw material side. And on the – sorry, I didn’t want to skip your question on Wintershall Dea. If you think about the lead time that you have for an IPO, we’re talking here second half of the year. And second half means beginning in September.

Charlie Webb

Thank you, Stefie. Good morning Martin. Good morning Hans. Just one on MDI and TDI, the isocyanates, clearly, current spreads look pretty tight. And I guess the disruptions in Texas will keep things that way for now. I’m just wondering how you see those markets kind of moving into the latter half of the year. A peer of yours was fairly conservative in the potential normalization that we might see. So just wondering whether you share that view or whether you have a slightly different view. I’m just interested in how you’re thinking about those markets.

Hans-Ulrich Engel

Yeah. Charlie, this is Hans again. So on the isocyanates, frankly, we were positively surprised by what we saw happening in Q4 and also going into Q1, very strong business in January, very strong business in February. Our expectation is that during the course of the year we’ll see a normalization there – in the business. So I guess that’s all that I can say with respect to isocyanates where, frankly, we were surprised by the strong improvement in a very short period of time.