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

European refining margins ‘at 4 year low’

European refining margins are falling, as the US’s need for gasoline imports reduces. Margins have reached a 4 year low of minus $6.21/bbl, according to Bloomberg. And the problem is likely to get worse, as the US moves towards greater self-sufficiency in gasoline via refinery expansions and increased biofuels usage. This trend could have important […]

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The ‘difficult task of damage control’

The central bankers’ bank (the Bank for International Settlements) is not very impressed with its members’ efforts over the past year. Readers may remember that the BIS Report last year explicitly warned of the problems that were about to occur in world financial markets. This year’s Report expresses its disappointment about what central banks did […]

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The blog’s first birthday

Its now a year since the blog started. Since then, 213 postings have appeared. It is now read in 72 countries and 620 cities (shown above). Most encouragingly, readership continues to steadily increase. Since January, it has risen a further 301%. The blog’s aim is to identify ‘the influences that may shape the chemical industry […]

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US auto sales collapse in June

‘Collapse’ is not a word that should be used lightly in business. But there is no other way to describe June’s US auto sales figures:

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Chemicals feel the wind of change

Three major themes ( ICIS Jun08.pdf ) emerged from our Asian Conference last week, co-organised with ICIS: • Change. The world is clearly changing very rapidly. Feedstock prices are rising. At the same time, major new capacity is starting to come on-stream in the Middle East, and in Asia. • Complexity. There are many more […]

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Gazprom challenges OPEC

Alexei Miller, CEO of Gazprom, believes ‘that OPEC doesn’t have any real influence on the global oil market nowadays’. Interviewed by the Financial Times, he claimed that ‘not a single decision has been passed of late that would really influence the global oil market’. And he repeated his suggestion that oil could reach $250/bbl, noting […]

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A commodities ‘Super Cycle’

Oil prices at $140/bbl caused plenty of debate in Bangkok this week at our Asian conference (jointly organised with ICIS). Delegates also heard from Reliance’s President of Fibre Intermediates, Rajen Udeshi, on the potential for a new commodities ‘Super Cycle’ to be underway. Discussing the above chart, he pointed out that the industrialisation of China […]

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P&G reviews its supply chain model

Higher oil prices will change the way that Procter & Gamble operates its supply chain. The world’s largest consumer products company describes its current operations as being ‘upside down’. ‘They were implemented in the 1980s and 1990s, when oil was 10 bucks a barrel’, according to Keith Harrison, P&G’s head of global supply.

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Israel’s training exercise worries oil markets

The US has now confirmed what oil traders have been suspecting – that Israel is preparing for a bombing raid on Iran’s alleged nuclear facilities. According to Bloomberg and the New York Times, around 100 Israeli aircraft took part in a full-scale training exercise in early June. The distance it involved, 900 miles, is apparently […]

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A new ‘North-South dialogue’

I’ve read several reports on the outcome of the Jeddah oil ‘summit’, and still feel no wiser than last week:

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