In difficult times, the industry looks to the major companies for their advice. And they certainly provided this at our 8th European Conference (co-organised with ICIS),
Shell's Jonathan Forbes-Lane, European GM, focused on the "gale-force recession" now underway. He expected "prices to stay volatile and unpredictable because they were being pulled in opposing directions by fluctuations in consumer demand and feedstock supply". He also noted that Shell had "taken a creative approach to customers' credit risk by agreeing shorter payment terms, linking buying and selling contracts, or allowing customers to move from contract to spot pricing".
BASF's Jaroslaw Michniuk, Group VP, warned that "expansions in the Middle East mean there will be more interpolymer competition in the near future". He also highlighted the need for older-established businesses "to become even more innovative by focusing on new and still-expanding markets".
Reliance's Rajen Udeshi, President of the polyester chain, focused on the importance of "strong integration as a tool for ensuring its own economics". He believed that markets would become more regional in future, noting that Reliance was now "responsible for 3% of India's total GDP, and was also a substantial exporter within Asia".
The blog's own presentation highlighted lessons learned during previous downturns, particularly 1980-4. It warned against the dangers of "a purely short-term approach, as this will see companies in a vicious circle which will close down their options for the future". Please click here to download full reports of the presentations from Bloomberg and ICIS.