It's a whole new ball game
First of all, apologies to readers for my complete neglect of this blog over the last six weeks. I can only plead overwork and being too stunned by the collapse of the global economy to think about the blogosphere.
I promise regular posts from now on, provided I am not once again dazzled by the headlights of the advancing global-calamity juggernaut.
Now to the actual first post since early June: The recent fall in crude prices provides some hope for hard-pressed liquids cracker operators confronting the squeeze of higher feedstock costs and weaker demand.
But the pricing decline is partly a reflection of just how bad demand has become - surpassing all estimates of reductions in fuel consumption in both Asia and the West. It's not just energy efficiency triggered by high prices that has driven crude down, but also the credit crisis.
Fundamentally, crude supply remains constrained and it would only take an Israeli attack Iran (a strong possiblity over the next six months) for oil to reach $200 a barrel.
Commodity chemical companies need a different approach to customer management, new methods to deal with with highly volatile raw material costs and fresh ways of keeping costs down. Otherwise those without feedstock advantages are in danger of going bust.