Olefins and Polymers: Global Headwinds – Net Zero Goals, Excess Capacity, and Weak Demand

September 9 – 11, 2024
Marriott Marquis
Houston, TX

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Session Details

Olefins and Polymers: Global Headwinds – Net Zero Goals, Excess Capacity, and Weak Demand

Wednesday, 11 September
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As we look to 2024, operating rates have likely bottomed out. There is less new capacity coming online in the short term although demand growth is uncertain with many headwinds. These trends still are unlikely to offer any margin recovery. Shall the industry defer projects as cash flow is challenged? Do the highest cost assets get rationalized and what challenges come with that? This session delves into the proactive measures and strategic responses essential for navigating these challenges. We will examine the industry’s adaptation to net-zero goals, analyze the dynamics of managing excess capacities, and explore innovative strategies to thrive in the face of weak demand.

Bill Hyde, Vice President, Olefins & Elastomers, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
Jose de Barros, Vice President, Ethylene Business Group, Lummus Technology
Steve Lewandowski, Vice President, Olefins, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
The overbuild wave of the last four years has ended as new builds take a pause. Demand recovery continues to be uncertain. It will take some time to absorb the overbuild with three solutions at hand: 1) idle assets 2) rationalize assets or 3) take extended maintenance to do more work over a longer window of time. For some, their fortunes will not be so bad. As in any commodity down cycle, those with the lowest cost position should be able to operate and make good margins. Who and where those operators are will be covered at the World Chemical Forum.
Pablo Giorgi, Executive Director, Global Olefins, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
Embark on the tumultuous journey of propylene through a tremendous wave of new capacities in the last years, and the trends for investments in the rest of the decade. Faced with unprecedented challenges, the session explores the industry’s response to seismic changes and the redefinition of traditional structures. On-purpose production continues to take the main stage, defining economics and production globally. Propylene grapples with oversupply, environmental pressures, and shifting market dynamics, prompting considerations for capacity adjustments. Still, major new project announcements persist. This session delves into strategic responses, examining the industry’s resilience in the wake of evolving global demand and potential feedstock challenges with the energy transition. Join us to unravel propylene’s odyssey and explore how the industry adapts to navigate these historic challenges.
Bill Hyde, Vice President, Olefins & Elastomers, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
Sessions to resume at 11:00 AM.
Nick Vafiadis, Vice President, Plastics, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
Massive capacity growth, oversupply, and environmental pressures will challenge the industry in an unprecedented way. Capacity shut downs and operating rate turn-downs are being considered while major expansions continue to be announced and approved. Historical reliance on robust Chinese demand growth is no longer a winning formula as fundamental shifts in Chinese market dynamics develop. Investments in circular production continue as the industry positions itself to meet aggressive recycle and net zero goals – but will these investments be sufficient to meet these historic challenges?
Joel Morales, Vice President, Polyolefins Americas, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
Like many chemicals, today, record PP capacity additions are overwhelming demand and pressuring margins all over the world. The outlook for the global PP market is adversely affected by continued capacity expansions in China and volatile propylene prices in North America. Calls for more recycled content and a reduction in plastic use look to exacerbate the already challenging conditions. The session will focus on how regional producers and consumers position themselves to survive these conditions.
Bill Hyde, Vice President, Olefins & Elastomers, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
Sessions to resume at 2:00 PM after lunch.
Steve Lewandowski, Vice President, Olefins, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
Speaker to be announced
Kelly Knopp, CEO & Co-founder, Citroniq
There will always be a need for virgin resin supply regardless of the success of mechanical and chemical recycling.  At Citroniq Chemicals, we are developing a commercial-scale sustainable polypropylene production platform that will provide carbon-negative resins as the preferred virgin supply to complement the developing recycled plastics businesses.  Sustainable plastics are a higher-valued use of US ethanol when compared to the fuels markets.  Ethanol-to-plastics breaks the carbon cycle by capturing CO2 as a useful solid pellet (Carbon Capture Utilization) rather than combusting the ethanol back into CO2.
William Chen, Executive Director, Asia Olefins, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
Slow demand recovery, high feedstock cost, and overbuilt capacity are weighing on olefin production economics in Asia. But these challenges do not slow down aggressive olefin capacity expansion in Asia, in particular in mainland China. The second wave of new steam crackers, and many new on-purpose olefin projects are on the way. Clearly, conventional drivers, like low self-sufficiency, healthy demand growth or strong margins, are not the motivations. Instead, decarbonization goals are driving the investments. This presentation will answer key questions on how producers can cope with oversupply and poor margin, how long will overcapacity persist, and what are the stepping stones for olefins to toward achieving net zero.
Make new connections or join familiar faces during this dedicated networking break. Sessions to resume at 4:00 PM.
Matthew Thoelke, Executive Director, Olefins & Derivatives, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
The Middle East and European olefins industries have responded to the 2015-2019 upturn by pushing forward investment plans. Several projects are now in the implementation and construction phase. However, the collapse in market conditions – in part due to substantial investment, most critically in China – has undermined the outlook for the returns these investments may achieve. Many players are looking to consolidation in this time so can investing in capacity really make sense? Should the investors respond to the changes in market condition, should they simply hold their course or is there a rationale to delay or even cut their losses and cancel investment plans?
Mike Nash, Vice President, Global Syngas, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
In the short term, the methanol market looks oversupplied, with new capacity due to come onstream in 2024 and a relatively pessimistic outlook on demand. In the longer term, the nature of methanol demand is changing, with more reliance on traditional chemical derivatives and less on MTO and fuels applications. Longer-term, will demand for methanol as a marine fuel be a gamechanger and will there be enough green methanol to satisfy it? At what price? And what is the definition of “green”?
Bill Hyde, Vice President, Olefins & Elastomers, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
Over the past few years the global markets for butadiene and its derivatives have experienced historic upheaval. Demand has contracted. Crude C4 supply has been long. Operating rates have been under pressure. Traditional importers have become motivated exporters. These market dynamics have been challenging to say the least. Many commodity markets are beginning to recover and return to relatively normal conditions. C4 olefins market players justifiably wonder when their markets will stabilize and what that will look like. In this presentation we will answer those questions.
Steve Lewandowski, Vice President, Olefins, Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS
Session Speakers

Jose de Barros Vice President, Ethylene Business Group Lummus Technology

Jose de Barros is currently the Vice President of the Ethylene Business Group within Lummus Technology. Jose manages the technical and commercial aspects of the Ethylene Business Group, which includes several key technologies for producing olefins such Steam Cracking, Olefins Conversion Technology, Methanol to Olefins and Butene-1 and Hexene-1 co-monomer production technologies. Jose has more than 30 years of industry experience.  Prior to joining Lummus Technology in 1992, Jose worked in process and operations at Braskem ethylene plants in the Camacari Petrochemicals complex, Brazil for 6 years. Since joining Lummus Technology, Jose has held different positions in the Ethylene Business Group, including Process Design Manager, Director Olefins Technology and Director Business Development. Additionally, Jose led the newly formed Process and Engineering group for Lummus Petrochemicals overseeing the Process Engineering and Mechanical Design groups in both USA and India. He holds a Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering Process Design from Manhattan College, NY and a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from UFPE, Brazil. Jose is also fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and French.

William Chen, PhD Executive Director, Asia Olefins and Derivatives Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS

William Chen is an Executive Director of the Asia Olefins and Derivatives at Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS, a Dow Jones Company. Dr. William Chen is the Executive Director at Chemical Market Analytics. He leads Asia Olefins' business and has research responsibilities for providing insight into the dynamics associated with the ethylene, propylene, C4, and derivatives value chain markets. Provide thought leadership on the markets relating to supply, demand, price and economics, as well as competitive dynamics and changing industry structural elements. William also leads Asia Olefins' business for strategic growth and provides ongoing commercial management. Focus on nurturing client relationships and deepening services as part of clients’ commercial and strategic decision-making processes. Nurture relationships with clients, including SOEs, POEs and MNCs, to deepen services in clients’ commercial and strategic decision-making processes. William has been involved in many petrochemical consulting projects and client studies, including the China Coal Chemical Study, Global Propane Dehydrogenation Research, and Refinery-cracker/aromatic complex feasibility study. Before Chemical Market Analytics, William worked for ChemChina. William started as a chemical engineer at the company at a Lanzhou fiber plant in Northwest China. Then, he moved back to Beijing to focus on downstream application development. In the last two years with ChemChina, William took charge of sales and marketing responsibility in NE Asia. William earned a Ph.D from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and majored in Polymer Chemistry and Physics. William is based in Beijing, China.

Pablo Giorgi Executive Director, North America Light Olefins Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS

Pablo Giorgi is the Executive Director of the North American Light Olefins business at Chemical Market Analytics. Pablo Giorgi is the executive director for North America Light Olefins at Chemical Market Analytics. With over 25 years of industry expertise, Pablo is a key resource within the business for understanding and insight into the olefins sector of the petrochemical industry. Within the Americas he works closely with the petrochemical, energy, refining and financial industries, bringing support and guidance throughout the petrochemical chain. His current area of focus includes oversight of the North America Light Olefins Service and primary input and insight for the World Ethylene and Propylene analyses. Mr. Giorgi’s professional experience includes working in styrenics, aromatics, olefins, and polyolefins businesses. Before his current position at Chemical Market Analytics, he held roles in commercial, purchasing, supply chain, strategy, and market intelligence functions across various organizations in Brazil and the USA. Mr. Giorgi holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), later acquiring an MBA in Logistics from Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV) and an MBA in Management from Fundacao Dom Cabral (FDC).

Bill Hyde Vice President, Olefins and Elastomers Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS

Bill Hyde is the Vice President of Olefins & Elastomers at Chemical Market Analytics. Mr. Hyde is a member of Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS, A Dow Jones Company. He leads a group that analyzes markets related to C4 Olefins, synthetic and natural rubber, and tire raw materials. He has been consulting in this market since 2002. Hyde began his career with the Union Carbide Corporation in 1990, where he had various positions, including production engineering, optimization, planning, and logistics. In 2000, he joined Texas Petrochemicals as a Business Analyst. In 2002, Hyde joined CMAI, which was acquired by IHS in 2011, in the Olefins Consulting Practice, focusing on C4 Olefins and rubber, assuming responsibility for that practice in 2006. The Base Chemicals Group of HIS Markit, which includes the C4 Olefins and Elastomers Practice, was divested to News Corp in June 2022 and became Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS, A Dow Jones Company. He has published several papers on the Olefins and Elastomers industries and presented at numerous Olefins and Elastomers Conferences worldwide. Hyde has BSc and MSc Degrees in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and an M.B.A. from Tulane University.

Kelly Knopp CEO and Founder Citroniq Chemicals

Mr. Knopp is CEO and Co-Founder of Citroniq Chemicals, an industry leader in the development of sustainable plastics.  He has over 40 years of experience in the Refining, Midstream, Petrochemicals and Plastics industries.  His experience includes leading international sales teams, building sales & marketing strategies for new products and regions, directing new business development and improving sales teams through focused customer engagement.  He has served in leadership roles for NOVA Chemicals, Williams Energy, Koch Industries and Phillips 66 Company.  Mr. Knopp holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Kansas and MBA from the University of Houston – Clear Lake.

Steve Lewandowski Vice President, Global Olefins & Derivatives Team Lead Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS

Mr. Lewandowski is the Vice President of Global Olefins & Derivatives at Chemical Market Analytics. Based in Houston, Steve Lewandowski is the Vice President - Olefins at Chemical Market Analytics (CMA) by OPIS, a Dow Jones Company, a leading global provider of information, insight and consulting services to the global chemical and petrochemical. During a career spanning 30 + years in the refining and chemical industry, Steve has experience across the spectrum of refining and petrochemical hydrocarbon value chains covering various financial, strategic, technical and commercial roles. Before his move to Chemical Market Analytics, Steve was Senior Manager of Base Chemicals at TOTAL Petrochemicals & Refining, Inc. In that capacity, he managed the P&L of the base chemicals business, including joint venture relationships, strategic guidance to the partnerships, plant operational interfaces, project development, and commercial responsibility for olefin and aromatic monomers, including styrene. Before the Base Chemical Senior Manager role, Steve had increasing responsibilities within the Petrochemical business at TOTAL. The latest assignment was overseas, in Brussels, Belgium, where he was responsible for the Global Aromatics long-term commercial business activity. The assignment included P&L responsibility and strategic project development for TOTAL worldwide. Before the Belgian assignment, he worked as manager of the US aromatics business. Before 2000, Steve was involved in the refining and fuels side of the Hydrocarbon chain both for what was then FINA Oil and Chemical and for Star Enterprise (a joint venture between Texaco and Saudi Aramco), working as a process engineer, optimization engineer, fuels blending optimizer, branded/unbranded fuels marketing and supply lead, and in a business development role. Steve earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Michigan State University in 1987 and an MBA with a focus on finance and economics from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2000.

Joel Morales Vice President, Polyolefins Americas Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS

Joel Morales is the Vice President of Polyolefins Americas at Chemical Market Analytics. Joel joined the company in March 2013 to cover Polyethylene (PE) and Polypropylene (PP) in North America. He began his career in 1999 with polyolefins manufacturer Solvay Polymers, which later became Ineos, in technical services and product development before he moved into field sales. After five years at Solvay Polymers, Joel moved into resin distribution sales for both Muehlstein and then United Polychem as a Product Manager, where he managed and sold polyethylene and polypropylene resins into various customer segments. In his most recent role before joining Chemical Market Analytics (CMA), Joel was a purchasing manager for Silgan Plastics, a major blow-molding and injection molding plastics converter. He has brought a wealth of industry knowledge to Chemical Market Analytics through multiple stints along the plastics value chain. Joel works closely within the Americas with resin producers, converters, and third parties covering the polyolefin markets. Joel speaks regularly around the world as a polyolefin market expert. He is the service leader of three market advisory subscription services: The Global Plastics and Polymers Report, the North American PE Report and the North American PP Report. Joel graduated from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and a minor in psychology. — —  

Mike Nash Vice President, Global Syngas Team Lead | Americas Acetyls Lead Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS

Mr. Mike Nash is the Vice President for Syngas Chemicals (including the methanol and acetyls practices) at Chemical Market Analytics. He works with a global team of regional consultants and overlays their analyses with a global perspective. His responsibilities include the weekly World Methanol Report and monthly World Methanol Analysis, including the weekly and monthly Global Acetyls Market Reports and the related World Analyses for Methanol, Acetyls, and Formaldehyde. Before joining the IHS Markit base chemicals business (now known as Chemical Market Analytics) in September 2012, Mr. Nash worked for BP's petrochemicals division for 19 years preceding a two-year stint in Total's UK fuels business. He performed various commercial roles within BP, in international business management, marketing, project management, and logistics, based in London, Duesseldorf, and Kuala Lumpur. His last role in the Total UK was the Logistics Director for Specialties. Mr. Nash holds a Master of Arts in English Language and Literature from Edinburgh University, UK, and a Master of Business Administration from Kingston University, UK.

Matthew Thoelke Vice President, EMEA Olefins Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS

Matthew Thoelke is the Vice President for Olefins and Derivatives in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at Chemical Market Analytics. Matthew Thoelke is the vice president of the olefins and derivatives team in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at Chemical Market Analytics. During his time with the company, he has taken a wide variety of roles across a broad range of product areas. With over 25 years of experience, Matthew is a key resource within the business for understanding and insight into the olefins sector of the petrochemical industry. Within the EMEA region, he works closely with the petrochemical, oil and financial industries, bringing support and guidance throughout the petrochemical chain. His current area of focus includes oversight of the ‘Europe and the Middle East Olefins Report’ and primary input and insight for the ‘World Ethylene and Propylene Analyses.’ His prior experience includes coverage of butadiene and elastomers, for which he remains a globally recognized industry speaker and expert. Whilst in this role, Mathew was responsible for the ‘Global Outlook — Feedstocks, Elastomers Report’ and the ‘World Butadiene Analysis’ and took the lead role in analyzing olefin and derivative markets in support of the long-term planning outlooks in the World Analysis. Mr. Thoelke has both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Material Sciences from Cambridge University, as well as a Diploma in Manufacturing Engineering (ACDMM).

Nick Vafiadis Vice President, Global Plastics & Polymers Team Lead Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS

Nick Vafiadis is the Vice President of the Plastics & Polymers business at Chemical Market Analytics. 34 years, including critical roles in sales, sales management, product management, and business line management in the plastics, surfactants, and consulting industries. Nick is a 30+ year chemical and plastics industry veteran and manages Chemical Market Analytics' global plastics practice. Nick’s daily responsibilities include analysis, consulting, and reporting on the global polyolefins market and managing global operations associated with producing and developing various plastics reports. Concurrently, he contributes to single-client projects and studies related to the polyolefins industry. In his earlier assignments, he was responsible for consulting duties associated with the Chlor-alkali and vinyl product chain. He has contributed to the Monomers Market Report, the Chlor-Alkali Market Report, and the Global Plastics & Polymers Market Report. He has been with Chemical Market Analytics and its predecessor companies since 2002. Before 2002, he spent twelve years with Vista Chemical Company, where he held assignments in marketing, product management, and sales management in the vinyl and surfactant business areas. Mr. Vafiadis holds a Management BBA from The University of Texas at Austin, United States.

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