Will the US be able to sell all its planned new petchem volumes? That is the 3rd topic in the blog’s series about critical areas where we all think we know what’s happening, but may end up being surprised. We all know that the US now has a major feedstock advantage versus Europe, Asia and Latin America due […]
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The Financial Times has carried an excellent analysis this week of the key shale gas issues facing the European chemical industry. It includes comments from a number of CEOs, as well as from the blog. Its key points are as follows: THE STRATEGIC DILEMMA “European petrochemical makers risk being squeezed between low-cost producers in the Middle East […]
Will 2014 finally be the year of economic recovery? There are signs of a stronger economy in the US and Europe. Pharma is shifting and downsizing as it works. How will all of this affect you in 2014? The blog will discuss these and other key issues with American Chemical Society chairman Bill Carroll, in its regular Chemistry […]
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 […]
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 […]
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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.