About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

Author Archive | Paul Hodges

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10 European crackers offline

My colleague Bob Townsend is well known to many in the chemical industry as an olefins expert. He has pointed out today’s most unusual situation in olefins. Normally, an unplanned outage by one or more crackers would cause major disruption. Yet today, 10 European crackers are down, for technical or other reasons, and many others […]

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Benzene hits a floor

Regular readers of the blog will know that it believes price movements in benzene have great predictive power. This is due to the fact that benzene is one of the oldest of the major chemicals, and has the widest industrial usage. Thus in March, when benzene prices hit a “ceiling”, the blog noted this was […]

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BASF sees “massive decline”

6 weeks ago, I warned that “the scariest moment of my 30 year chemical career” was about to be repeated. This had been in 1980, when “for some weeks it seemed that demand for many petchem products had simply stopped”. Three weeks later, the blog confirmed that “the moment it had long feared has now […]

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US equities and crude oil follow each other

An interesting note from PetroMatrix highlights the close linkage that has now developed between changes in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and WTI crude oil prices. The chart, showing market action on Thursday, makes the point very clearly. PetroMatrix’s analysis suggests that “the correlation across asset classes remains very strong and there is little diversification […]

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LyondellBasell debt downgraded, INEOS seeks waivers

Current market conditions are causing problems for everyone in the chemical industry. But as the blog has long feared, they are particularly testing those companies with higher debt levels. On Friday, Moody’s announced a downgrading of the Corporate Family Rating of Lyondell Basell Industries to B3 to B1, and said the outlook “remains negative”. Yesterday, […]

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A low-key G-20 meeting

The first-ever G-20 meeting of Heads of State was a relatively quiet event, without the presence of President-elect Obama. Two main areas seem to have been discussed: • Regulatory reform, where finance ministers have been given until the end of March to work out new rules for the world’s financial markets • Fiscal stimulus, where […]

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IEA says “world’s energy system at crossroads”

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is the global energy watchdog. Its new annual report, just published, says “the world’s energy system is at a crossroads”, and adds that “current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable”. As examples, it highlights: • The world will need 45 mb/d of new capacity (4 times […]

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Dow warns of need for “radical actions”

Andrew Liveris, Dow CEO, has consistently warned that we are facing a major recession. Today, in a Bloomberg interview, he spells out the need for “radical actions” to “take out capacity”. He notes that Dow’s volumes are down 10%-20% this quarter, and expects this to continue into H1 next year. And he forecasts that “we […]

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Survival tips for CFOs

The Financial Times series on surviving the downturn focuses this week on CFOs. It includes advice from Feike Sijbesma, CEO of DSM, who suggests that “you need to see how creditable your debtors are, very quickly”, and advises that “maintaining a good relationship with your creditors and banks is also critical”. The Key Tips from […]

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Credit crunch causes demand destruction (2)

I gave an interview to ICIS radio at EPCA in September, in which I warned that the destocking process would go through two phases: • The first, which took place during Q3, was when companies destocked in response to the falling oil price, to a more “normal” level of stock • The second, which would […]

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