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PVC export boom to Turkey supports EU chloralkali demand

European chloralkali producers ended up having a relatively good year in 2014, despite having been over-optimistic about likely demand levels in Q3.  They held operating rates at 78% in Q3, in line with H1 levels.  But realism soon prevailed, and producers quickly cut rates to average 75% in Q4 to compensate. The chart shows the detail of developments since 2009 (based […]

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2014 another bad year for force majeures

2013 wasn’t a good year for chemical plant reliability.  As I noted a year ago, force majeures (when plants go offline unexpectedly) were close to a record level. Very worryingly, 2014 turns out to have been far worse as the chart above shows, based on the reports in ICIS news: 2014 saw a total of […]

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Companies see confidence ebb away as China slows, US cost advantage weakens

It feels like the end of an era, as we survey the usual quarterly update of chemical company results.  For several years, there have been 3 or 4 key dimensions: US companies have been very profitable due to shale gas Asian companies have done well with volume, due to Chinese demand Middle Eastern companies have done well due to […]

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3D printing to move manufacturing closer to the customer

15 years ago, it was fashionable to dismiss eBusiness as a fairy story.  I remember those days well, as I had just raised $25m from major companies to fund its development in the chemical industry.  Today, of course, eBusiness is everywhere.  Nobody would dream of shaking their heads and dismissing the whole concept, as many did pre-2000. Which takes […]

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Grangemouth develops cluster-based vision for the future

Exactly a year ago this week, the INEOS petrochemical business at Grangemouth in Scotland was facing closure.  This would have been a disaster for the thousands of people employed directly and indirectly, as well as for Scotland. The blog was very closely involved in helping to achieve a successful outcome alongside the Scottish and UK governments, INEOS and the UNITE […]

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European companies missing a major growth opportunity

We all know that the European economy is in a bad way.   Sales and incomes are under pressure, and political risk is rising, whilst unemployment remains at high levels.  Its very easy to get depressed about the outlook. We are also unlikely to get much help from policymakers.  They remain in their world of mathematical models.  These […]

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Time to look forward, not back, for European petrochemicals

The European petrochemicals industry is in crisis.  Operating rates dropped below 85% in H2 2008, and have never recovered.  Now there is a danger that it faces death by a thousand cuts.  This would be a tragedy for the European economy, as it would imply the loss of tens of thousands of well-paid jobs along […]

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Unilever says Q2 market growth slows in emerging countries, developed countries weak

The global economy really isn’t getting any better.  That’s the key conclusion from the blog’s quarterly survey of company results for Q2. Of course, some companies are doing well – either because of shale gas economics, or their own market positioning.  But consumer giant Unilever summarised the general picture very well: “Market growth continued to slow in emerging […]

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2 dates for the diary

Last May’s China Transformation webinar with John Richardson attracted great interest.  We are therefore arranging a free follow-up webinar on Tuesday 9 September.  As before, it will be run twice, to allow blog readers in different regions to attend. This ‘China Economic Transformation II’ webinar will cover these key areas: The likely impact on global markets of the […]

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European chloralkali output hit as growth slows, Ukraine volumes drop

Chlorine and caustic soda are the bedrock of modern industry.  They are used in everything from laundry products to pharmaceuticals.  So changes in their business performance are a most valuable guide to what is happening in the real world in which we all live. The chart shows the detail of developments in the European industry, […]

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