2013 has seen 3 types of markets develop for the blog’s IeC Downturn Monitor portfolio as the chart above shows: Financial assets such as the S&P 500 (purple) have soared, as did the US$ against the yen (orange) Crude oil (blue) and naphtha (black) tried to follow, but found it difficult to pass though the higher prices Benzene (green) and […]
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Chlorine and caustic soda are some of the most widely used chemicals. Thus their performance is always a valuable leading indicator for the wider chemical industry and the economy itself. So the chart above, based on Eurochlor data, is a worrying sign: Chlorine production is down by 1.9% in 2013, after a 2.9% fall in 2012 Caustic […]
Q3 was supposed to be the turning point for the global economy. Back in April, the IMF had announced: “Global prospects have improved again but the road to recovery in the advanced economies will remain bumpy. World output growth is forecast to reach 3¼% in 2013 and 4% in 2014. In the major advanced economies, […]
Volatility is one of the blog’s key themes for the next few years, as the world transitions to slower growth and a more regional economy. And the chart above from the latest ICIS pricing Asian ethylene margin report highlights this new trend very well: Margins jumped 42% last week to reach $290/t, based on naphtha […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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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.