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Petchem supply/demand enters the New Normal

The blog’s major series this week has focused on the changes that seem to be taking place in markets for the petchem ‘building block’ products, particularly ethylene, propylene, benzene and paraxylene. These changes in relative price and availability are of vital importance to a wide range of downstream chemical products. They may well prove to […]

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Lower Western gasoline demand helps paraxylene

Paraxylene (PX) has been a great petchem success story over the past 30 years. This 4th post in the blog’s series looks back at its history, and discusses how its future may develop. It is hard to remember that back in the 1970s, DMT (dimethyl terephthalate) was the main polyester material. But the superior properties […]

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Benzene develops security of supply issues

As promised, the 3rd of the blog’s series on the changes underway in the pricing of the major ‘building block’ chemicals, looks at benzene. The chart above shows its ‘spread’ versus naphtha, the key dynamic from a price and margin perspective. As can be seen, this was normally in the $80/t – $200/t range until […]

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Propylene prices reach parity with ethylene

As promised on Saturday, today’s post looks in more detail at the major change taking place in the relationship of propylene to ethylene prices. When the blog joined the chemical industry in the 1970′s, propylene was often regarded as a disposal problem by many cracker operators. They ran their plants to produce ethylene, which was […]

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Major changes underway in relative olefin pricing

Unprecedented changes are taking place in the relative prices of the main ‘building block’ petrochemicals. In turn, these could have major implications for downstream users, all along the key value chains. Today’s post looks at the changes taking place in ethylene’s relative price to the other olefins, propylene and butadiene. On Monday, the blog will […]

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TOTAL moves forward on methanol to olefins

Coal was the original source of most chemicals. It was then replaced in the 1960′s by oil-based feedstocks. Their lower cost of manufacturing led to the boom in applications and volumes seen over the past 50 years. More recently, biomass’ potential is now being explored. At the same time, major companies such as BASF, Dow, […]

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A Year of Two Halves

Two months ago, on 8 May, the blog suggested that ‘Sell in May and Go Away” was likely to prove good advice this year. Since then, most major stock markets have fallen dramatically, with the S&P 500 down by 9%. The proximate cause of the blog’s pessimism then was the onset of the Greek/eurozone crisis. […]

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Boom/Gloom Index warns of rising Austerity risk

The latest IeC Boom/Gloom Index © is showing a further rise in its austerity reading (red line). This is not good news for likely future chemical sales. It is one of a number of leading indicators – housing and auto sales, unemployment, bank lending etc – which are all pointing to a potentially sharp slowdown […]

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The blog’s 3rd birthday

The blog continues to go from strength to strength. It is now read in 130 countries and 3680 cities, up from 111 countries and 2088 cities a year ago. Its readership is truly global, with the Top 10 countries including Benelux, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Singapore, Turkey, UK and USA. It has also expanded […]

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US auto sales slip as employment growth weakens

Each US auto sale is worth $2973 to the chemical industry, according to American Chemistry Council research. And as the chart above shows, current sales remain well below the levels seen in the Boom years. In June 2007, for example, 1.5m autos were sold (black line), in line with 2006 and 2006 performance. They were […]

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