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ACS and ISM feature the blog

The latest in the American Chemical Society’s 6 monthly ‘Chemicals and the Economy’ webinar series took place last week. It was moderated by former ACS President, Bill Carroll, of Occidental Chemical, and again proved very popular. ACS reported high levels of satisfaction from participants. Comments included: “This speaker is one of my favorites.” “This was […]

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China’s economy flashes an amber light

China’s chemical demand is clearly starting to slow, as my fellow blogger John Richardson has been reporting recently. This has big implications for the global chemical industry, which has relied on China to balance declining sales in the West. The slowdown comes as the government rolls back the stimulus measures introduced in Q4 2008, when […]

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BASF’s Hambrecht hits at China’s business policies

The business climate for Western firms in China is getting worse. 2 weeks ago, the CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt, caused a stir when he told a private dinner that “I really worry about China. I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us […]

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Fed, American Chemistry Council, worry about US economy

The US Federal Reserve and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have joined the blog in expressing concern about the outlook for the US economy. And as the chart above of the US S&P 500 shows, financial markets have continued to weaken since the blog’s advice on 8 May to “sell in May and go away“. […]

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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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