Global chemical production growth continues to slow from the peak of 3.7% seen in April 2014. September’s reading from the American Chemistry Council was down to 3%, with most major regions showing a decline: Asia has halved from 6.4% to 3.2%; ME/Africa has fallen from 6.1% to 3.5%; Latin America is negative at -3.2% W […]
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Today’s uncertain economic and oil price environment has created chaos in petrochemical feedstock and product markets. This creates major risks for producers, consumers and investors. ICIS and International eChem have therefore decided to combine our resources to launch a new Study, that will analyse the potential impact of these developments on the olefins, aromatics and […]
Major change is underway in world markets for all petrochemicals. It is no exaggeration to say that we now face chaos on the supply and demand side – affecting both feedstocks and products. Producers and consumers cannot afford to ignore the risks that this development creates for their business. Nor can investors afford to indulge […]
The chemical industry continues to be the best leading indicator we have for the global economy. Whilst stock markets were continuing to move higher during H1, its depressed level of capacity utilisation was signalling that the economy was far more fragile than generally realised. Company results for Q2 reflect this concern. Of course some, tied […]
I spent most of last week in New York and Boston, meeting with major investors. One key topic on all their agendas was the major downturn underway in the global mining industry. The connection with my visit was that some have already begun to worry that the planned US ethylene expansions may lead to a […]
The first half of 2015 was the worst half-year for force majeures in the chemical industry since reliable data became available via ICIS news in 2005. As the chart shows, there were 479 reports of outages, more than double H1 2014 and well above the previous peak of 375 in H1 2011. This is absolutely […]
Innovation is the life-blood of the chemical industry. It is also a critical success factor as we transition to the New Normal. Many of today’s plants and processes are simply too old and inefficient to remain competitive in a world of slow and volatile economic growth. Equally important is that changing demand patterns will demand […]
China is the world’s largest polyethylene market. One-third of the way through the year, it is therefore interesting to analyse the ratio of its own production versus imports, and look at relative import market shares. The chart shows annual data since 2005, with 2015 data to April, based on trade data from Global Trade Information […]
Volatility creates uncertainty. And uncertainty can easily lead to paralysis, if a company hasn’t planned ahead for the range of potential scenarios that might develop. This is the risk highlighted in my usual analysis of quarterly results. A key warning sign is the divide that has developed recently in performance in different regions and industry sectors, […]
China no longer wants to be the ‘manufacturing capital of the world’. Its ‘New Normal’ policies are instead taking it in a new direction, where growth will be based on income levels, not property wealth effects. So this seems a good moment to step back, and focus on the changes this is likely to bring. […]
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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.