A return to lower oil prices is good news for the global economy. But it is bad news for all those who have invested in expanding ethylene production on the assumption that US gas prices would maintain the temporary advantage of recent years. As the chart shows: Oil (blue line) has around 6x the energy […]
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Today’s collapse of commodity prices has the potential to cause a major financial crisis, as I first suggested back in June. In fact, this would now be my Base Case. But companies and investors have been lulled into complacency by unthinking ‘conventional wisdom’. This simply ignored the obvious fact that record levels of commodity prices could only […]
Brent oil prices have reached the “$70/bbl and probably lower” level that I forecast in August. So we now need to think about where they go next. Luckily, the chart above can still guide us, as it has done since September 2010. As readers will remember, I first forecast the collapse on 18 August. I then followed this post with a detailed analysis […]
I imagine a version of this chart has been keeping ministers awake at nights in Riyadh and the other Gulf Co-Operation Countries (GCC) in recent months. “How did we ever allow Canada to supply more oil than OPEC to the US?” they must be worrying. ”What did we think we were doing?” This might not be quite […]
Does OPEC have a future? Or has it already disappeared as an effective force in oil markets? I am not the only one now asking this question. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi asked the same question in the summer, suggesting OPEC Ministers should instead meet once a year, and have occasional videoconferences, adding: “We don’t need a meeting. […]
Oil prices should be set by the balance of supply and demand. But as the chart shows, oil markets have instead become dominated by financial players, as pension and hedge funds decided to buy oil as a “store of value“. Before 2000, financial market volume (red line) had been roughly equal to annual oil production (green line). This worked well, providing physical […]
Brent oil prices closed at $104.71/bbl on Friday 15 August. On the following Monday morning, I published the first post in my Great Unwinding series, arguing that: “The Great Unwinding of the failed stimulus policies since 2008 has now begun…oil markets are starting to follow cotton and other commodities in refocusing on the fundamentals of supply and […]
Just 10 years ago, then BP CEO John Browne shocked the oil industry by suggesting that oil prices might “temporarily” rise to $40/bbl due to an imbalance of supply and demand, before falling back below $35/bbl again. Of course, prices in fact moved much higher, as policymaker stimulus in first the US and then the […]
Our 13th annual World Aromatics & Derivatives Conference takes place in Berlin next week. Jointly organised as always by International eChem and ICIS, it features a must-hear list of speakers: ExxonMobil: Europe Business Director Tim Stedman will give a global market overview Dow Chemical: Global Business Director Pieter Platteeuw will discuss the future for benzene […]
Could Japan actually go bankrupt at some point in the future? This was the question left hanging in the air after Friday’s panic at the Bank of Japan, when its Governor forced through his new stimulus policy on a 5 – 4 vote. Financial markets’ first reaction was to assume this was a coup de théâtre on […]
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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.