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Strategies for success in the US petchem industry

Major changes are underway in the US petchem and polymer market: • Middle East/Asian production will likely eliminate the US Gulf’s historical position as ‘exporter to the world’ • The arrival of cheaper gas, and the impact of shale gas, is changing cracker feedstock slates quite dramatically • The continuing decline in domestic gasoline demand […]

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OPEC calls oil prices “beautiful”

OPEC’s meeting wrapped up quickly yesterday, with Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi once again saying oil prices today were “beautiful“. This highlights sentiment’s ability to take prices in the opposite direction to fundamentals. For certainly, on fundamentals, OPEC should have had a difficult session: • Quota compliance is now down at c50%, with Bloomberg estimating […]

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German auto sales fall 30%

European auto sales continue to depend on the influence of government stimulus programmes. The main feature of February’s results was the sharp decline in Germany’s sales. They were down 30% versus February 2009. This supports the fears of those who saw stimulus programmes as simply bringing forward new sales, not creating new demand. Overall, European […]

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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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