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US ethylene output rise warns of market share battles ahead

“The reality is the US from a chemical standpoint is a very mature market. We have some demand growth domestically in the US but it’s a % or two – it’s not strong demand growth,” Pryor said, adding that polyethylene hardly grew in the US in a decade. “That is not going to change. “The […]

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Chemical companies see difficult times ahead in 2016

The chemical industry remains the best leading indicator for the global economy.  That much is clear from the warnings it has delivered over the past year: Q3 results in November highlighted the need for “new strategies and business models“ Q2 results in July suggested “continued uncertainty over outlook“ Q1 2015 results in May revealed “increased […]

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Force majeures at record level, despite high profits

All accidents are preventable.  This simple fact, which used to be top-of-mind for every chemical industry manager, seems to have been increasingly either forgotten or ignored in recent years.  The evidence is in the chart above: showing industry force majeures since 2008 (as reported on ICIS news): They were at a record level in 2015, […]

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Chemical capacity utilisation continues to weaken

Capacity Utilisation (CU%) is the best measure we have for the current state of the global chemical industry.  It doubles as an excellent proxy for the outlook for the global economy.  And as the above chart based on latest American Chemistry Council data shows, recovery still seems a long way off: Global CU% was down […]

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The blog in 2015

2015 was the year when companies and markets began to feel the impact of the Great Unwinding of stimulus policies. The blog’s readership has increased significantly as a result, as people began to abandon the consensus wisdom which had so clearly failed – once again – to provide a reliable guide to the outlook. The […]

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The unseen costs of a Dow-DuPont merger

The unseen costs of the proposed Dow-DuPont merger are certain to be much larger than those we can currently describe.  Both companies will effectively be more reactive to external developments, rather than pro-active, due to the internal focus that will be required to develop and implement the merger and divestment processes.  This cost could well […]

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5 questions for the Dow-DuPont merger

All the evidence suggests that most mergers fail to deliver the promised value.  So those who propose them, especially when they involve such critical companies for the US and global economy as Dow Chemical and DuPont, must expect some hard questions to be asked. Here are my 5 top questions in logical order – Why?, […]

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What If 3D Printing Was 100x Faster? | TED Talks

Major change is underway in manufacturing and supply chains.  China’s slowdown has exposed the myth that its demand would support ever-increasing production of commodities such as metals and oil.  As the Financial Times reported yesterday: “Back in the summer, Glencore’s combative chief executive Ivan Glasenberg led a chorus of mining executives in blaming speculative funds for driving […]

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Q3 results suggest need for new strategies, business models

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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5 Critical Questions every Company and Investor Need to Answer

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 […]

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