Archive | Chemical companies RSS feed for this section

Global chemical operating rates remain well below SuperCycle levels

The latest American Chemistry Council report on global production shows output was up 3% versus September 2012, and just 18% above average 2007 levels.  There was a mixed picture in the main Regions: Asia-Pacific was strongest, up 5.9%, with Japan accelerating as the weak yen helped its exports The Middle East continued to slow, and was up […]

Continue Reading

Lessons from Grangemouth – how Europe can revive its industrial base

Sometimes a crisis can concentrate minds on one key issue.  This was certainly the case last week, when the blog was part of the tense debate over the future of the INEOS petrochemical plant at Grangemouth, Scotland involving the UK and Scottish governments, INEOS and the UNITE union.  The experience highlighted some critical learnings for the future of […]

Continue Reading

China’s polyester market warns of demand weakness ahead

Something very important seems to be happening in China’s polyester’s markets. The blog was brought up on these markets in its early days with ICI, when it was part of the team that launched PTA into Asian markets for the first time in the mid-1980s.  It has always seen them as a source of steady growth, with […]

Continue Reading

Grangemouth closure could force downstream converters to shut

  One never wants to see a major petchem plant shutdown, especially one with the history of Grangemouth in Scotland.  It is the UK’s largest cracker site, with ethylene capacity of 1 million tonnes.  Its production has a sale value of $1bn ($1.6bn), and a final value in food packaging, consumer packaging and automotive parts of […]

Continue Reading

Global chemical operating rates slip to 86%

Global chemical operating rates have shown little improvement over the summer months.  As the chart from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) shows: Rates in July were at 86.4%. compared to 87% in May This compares with the average of 91% between 1987 – 2012, and 86.7% in July 2012 Total production was up 2.8% versus 2012, […]

Continue Reading

Building the Factory of the Future

Over the past 4 years, major European companies and research organisations have been working to define and demonstrate the factory of the future.  Based on the Bayer Technology Services (BTS) site in Leverkusen, Germany, and with €30m ($40m) of European Union and other funding, they have now developed radically new ‘plug and play’ modular technology capable of being implemented widely […]

Continue Reading

Lack of demand threatens US ethylene expansions

The above chart paints a depressing picture for anyone thinking it should be easy to make money via a major US ethylene investment based on cheap ethane from shale gas.   It shows 2012 ethylene production (red column) was still below SuperCycle levels, as were volumes for the two major derivatives – polyethylene (blue) and PVC (green).  It highlights how lack of demand […]

Continue Reading

Earnings disappoint again, as companies face challenge of slowing global growth

Most of today’s executives and policymakers grew up during the SuperCycle.  Many therefore continue to believe that a return to constant growth is somehow inevitable.   Sadly, of course, they are doomed to disappointment.      And disappointment is the predominant message from the blog’s usual quarterly review of company results.  Thus BASF note that “achieving our earnings target […]

Continue Reading

Markets in wait-and-see mode as holiday season arrives

Markets have moved into summer holiday mode in recent weeks whilst they wait for a new direction, as the chart shows.  It is therefore timely to look back over developments since the start of the year: The S&P 500 (purple) has been the clear winner, up 15%.  The key to its out-performance has been the central […]

Continue Reading

Force majeures continue to increase

Companies have clearly been cutting capital budgets, in response to the slowing global economy.  That’s the only conclusion to be drawn from the blog’s 6-monthly review of force majeures, as reported by ICIS news.  They have been climbing steadily for months, and June saw them at twice the June 2012 level, as the chart shows. […]

Continue Reading