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UK media speculate over Ineos asset deals as EBITDA doubles

A week ago, the BBC carried a report that PetroChina had completed “preliminary work” on a possible bid to buy a stake in Ineos’ Grangemouth refinery. The BBC quoted Ineos as confirming it was in talks with “a number of parties” over the future of Grangemouth, whilst cautioning that “the discussions with interested parties are […]

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China becomes significant exporter of oil products

The apparent rise in China’s crude oil imports has been a major factor behind the doubling of oil prices in the last year. Yet a detailed analysis by Petromatrix illustrates that reality is a little different from the headline: • China has been importing more oil, as its new refineries come online (alongside its new […]

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Unscheduled cracker outages back to historical levels

The above chart is a real labour of love by ICIS’ Sue Royse. It comes from the indispensable monthly ICIS Worldwide Ethylene Plant Report. This tracks global operating capacity (except Russia/CIS), and details both planned and unplanned shutdowns. It highlights a number of key issues: • Total nameplate capacity was basically flat during 2008 at […]

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Ralf Kuhlmann retires

The blog sends its very best wishes to Ralf Kuhlmann of ExxonMobil, who retires this week as Business Director, Basic Chemicals Europe. The phrase “a pillar of the industry” might have been invented to describe Ralf. He was President of APPE (Assoc of Petrochemical Producers in Europe) until recently. He was also an EPCA Board […]

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Global stock markets still below 2007/8 peaks

By coincidence, the blog’s 6-monthly review of global stock markets takes place in March/September, so its review last March took place just as the market rally began. This week is therefore a good time to review developments since then. Russia has been the the best performer (up 160%) and India up 100%. Brazil, another BRIC […]

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Napa Valley foreclosures rise in ‘new normal’

Further evidence that the West is moving into a ‘new normal’ can be seen in the rising number of Napa Valley wineries facing foreclosures. The concept, adopted by the blog for its recent 2010 Outlook White Paper, suggests that the ‘conspicuous consumption’ seen in the West during the 2003-7 Boom is being replaced by more […]

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China’s housing market “a wild tiger”

More evidence is emerging of the real estate bubble that China’s easy money policy has created over the past year. Wen Jiabao, China’s premier, has described property markets in some cities as now being like a “wild tiger“. And new figures explain his concern, with the government reporting property sales rose an astonishing 80% last […]

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Value creation for People, Planet and Profit

The financial crisis has highlighted the need to move away from the simplistic approach of the “shareholder value” cult, where short-term targets dominate company thinking. Even Jack Welch, former GE CEO and original instigator of the approach, now agrees that the concept was “a dumb idea“. The blog therefore welcomes DSM’s new approach to the […]

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Global chemical production ends 2009 at Q4 2006 level

The good news is that global chemical production (the blue diamond line) grew during H2 2009. At the end of H1 2009, it had been equal to the level at the start of 2006. The bad news is that as the chart shows (based on data kindly supplied by Kevin Swift at the American Chemistry […]

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Dow puts debt problems behind it

A year ago, the Dow Chemical stock price was below $6, giving the company a total market capitalisation of just c$7bn. Since then, Dow has regained the initiative in a very focused way. First, it sold Morton Salt for $1.7bn, then it sold $2.25bn of new equity and refinanced $4.65bn of long-term debt. Next, it […]

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