Dow Chemical is usually optimistic. 6 months ago, for example, it reported that “our transformed portfolio, underpinned by our cost-advantaged and flexible operations, is now performing at a new level.” Last week, however, Dow reported that Q4 operating rates were down from 81% in 2010 to 72%, and warned it faced “headwinds” in all segments […]
Tag Archives | Brent oil prices
Markets are worryingly quiet for the start of a New Year. There is some restocking underway, but the main interest lies in the crude oil market. Since Brent peaked in April, there has been a clear pattern each month: • Prices have peaked at the start of almost every month • The only exceptions have […]
The blog is quite surprised at the mainstream media’s lack of interest in the fact that average Brent oil prices were at record levels in 2011 in real terms (adjusted for inflation). The annual average of Brent prices recorded by the US Energy Information Administration was $111.26/bbl, well above even 2008, when Brent prices peaked […]
The chart above shows how the benchmark products in the IeC Downturn Monitor moved during 2011. The yellow shaded area covers performance since 29 April, when the Monitor launched. It shows a year of two halves: • The period to the end of April was the last time that governments embarked on major ‘stimulus efforts’. […]
High oil prices are a bad thing for the global economy, and for the chemical industry, 2011 was therefore a very bad year indeed. Brent oil prices, the global benchmark, averaged $111/bbl in 2011. This is higher even than in 1979 and 1980, after adjusting for inflation. The chart shows the history since 1970, based […]
The other side of the short-term volatility in oil markets, as discussed yesterday, is that price movements are still trapped in their long-term triangle pattern. As the chart shows, Tuesday’s $3/bbl move was not part of a break-out to new high ground. In fact, Brent’s prices remain within the same $99/bbl – $127/bbl range they […]
ExxonMobil’s annual energy review is always a fascinating read. This year’s issue looks out to 2040 for the first time. It thus forecasts the relative share of the major fuels over the next 30 years. Interestingly, it also shares the blog’s belief, as set out in our ‘Boom, Gloom and the New Normal‘ eBook, that […]
Whisper it softly, so as not to alarm the CEO. But the world is starting to look worryingly like the picture of mid-2008. Official bodies such as the IMF are always cautious in forecasting a downturn. They rightly worry that they could help to cause the decline, by hitting confidence. But there comes a moment […]
By now, companies should be reordering for the New Year. CFOs have achieved their working capital targets for year-end. And the commercial people should be planning Q1 sales. So far, however, it seems that this restocking has proved rather weak. This parallels September’s disappointment, when the return from the summer holidays also failed to produce […]
The blog was in Singapore last week, running the final New Normal workshop of the year with co-author John Richardson. The main topic during the breaks was the continuing concern over China’s demand. This is reflected in the latest Downturn Monitor above. On the positive side, China’s PTA prices improved due to hopes of easier […]
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Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry.
The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts.
Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.