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A dip or a downturn?

Are we seeing just a dip in economic growth? Or are we at the start of a downturn that may run for months, or even years? The answer to this question lies in the US, which still accounts for 25% of global GDP, and where US consumer spending is 70% of US GDP. Optimists maintain […]

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US chemical imports face ‘green’ border tax

The US Congress is currently close to finalising a Bill that would aim to tackle climate change. This follows the EU model by establishing a carbon price via a cap-and-trade system, and is very welcome news. However, there is a sting in the tail, as currently drafted. For it also calls for a border tax […]

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Gazprom moves further into petchems

Gazprom is becoming a player to watch in petchems. For decades, observers have speculated that Russia might increase its petchem activity. A recent comment by Gazprom deputy CEO, Valery Golubev, seemed to bring this concept closer to reality. He said that Gazprom aimed to increase its ethylene production by 350% to 7.66 million tonnes (MT) […]

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Arctic oil reserves

How thick is the ice cap at the North Pole? Will it melt within our lifetime, or will it take a century? Will its major oil and gas reserves become available for exploitation? These are the questions which may be answered by the Vanco Arctic survey, due to take place between February – June next […]

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5 risks to 2008 budgets

The consensus viewpoint is an easy way of keeping up to speed on a variety of issues outside one’s daily experience. But the signs are that the consensus may be leading to complacency, when it comes to the assumptions being used to finalise 2008 budgets. There are a number of areas where some new thinking […]

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Beggar my neighbour

English children have a card game called ‘Beggar my Neighbour’, where the aim is to win all the cards from your opponents. Central bankers seem to be learning its rules, and applying them to currency trading. OPEC’s weekend summit showed it is clearly worried that it will have a losing hand if oil remains priced […]

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Uncertainty rules

Our annual European conference, organised with ICIS, always provides an excellent opportunity to gain a snapshot of industry views as we move into a new year. At this week’s event in Antwerp, Belgium, the prevailing mood was uncertainty, for the first time since 2002: • Oil prices are high, and volatile. This makes it difficult […]

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TOTAL’s new CEO warns on oil supplies

Christophe de Margerie, the new TOTAL CEO, has burst the bubble of complacency that has surrounded discussion of future oil supply. The ‘business as usual’ forecasts of both the International Energy Agency and the US government assume that the world will be producing c120m bbls/day by 2030. But de Margerie said he wished to ‘speak […]

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Subprime claims its first casualties

Back at the end of August, I suggested that we had only reached the end of Phase1 of the credit crunch. I feared that it had the potential to get much worse, and to damage the ‘real economy’ where all of us in the chemical industry live and work. This was definitely a minority view […]

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3 key questions for any Board

What are the key questions that need to be asked when discussing any budget or strategy proposal? I have just found the answer, from a master in the field. Sir Maurice Hodgson is recognised as one of the greatest ICI Chairmen. Under him, the company became a truly global leader, moving away from its ‘imperial’ […]

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