The above chart paints a depressing picture for anyone thinking it should be easy to make money via a major US ethylene investment based on cheap ethane from shale gas. It shows 2012 ethylene production (red column) was still below SuperCycle levels, as were volumes for the two major derivatives – polyethylene (blue) and PVC (green). It highlights how lack of demand […]
Tag Archives | ethylene
Sinopec is China’s main company in refining and chemical markets. Although it is listed on world stock markets, the government remains its largest shareholder with a 76% stake. As such, it follows government priorities rather than western commercial logic. The chart above, from the blog’s major new study of the company, highlights some of the […]
The latest EU olefin operating rates (OR%) were very disappointing, even though they were not a surprise. As the chart shows, ethylene rates were just 81% (based on APPE data). They were far below the 90%+ rates that were normal before the crisis began. These rates would normally have left the industry in crisis mode […]
Latest data from the IMF shows that the EU remains the world’s largest economic unit. Its GDP in 2010 was $16.2tn, 26% of the global economy. The USA was next with $14.5tn, and China 3rd with GDP of $5.9tn. So what happens in Europe matters greatly to the global economy. Equally, petchems are one of […]
The above chart would have seemed unbelievable at any time in the past 30 years. It shows the performance of propylene and butadiene relative to ethylene. Not because it shows butadiene prices racing ahead relative to ethylene (green line). This happens routinely during a downturn, as tyre demand is more robust than for polymers. If […]
Sinopec is China’s leading petchem producer. Its H1 results, out this week, confirm the blog’s concern that China’s growth surge has stalled. The chart shows Sinopec’s view of domestic demand growth for ethylene (blue line). After falling to zero in 2008 as the Great Recession began, growth rebounded to ~10% in 2009-10. But in H1 […]
Goldman Sachs today halved its estimate for global ethylene growth to ~2.5%, and slashed its earnings estimates for some major US companies. Analyst Robert Koort warns: “Our outlook for earnings growth has decelerated substantially in recent weeks … Our economists now expect US GDP to grow only 1.7% in 2011 and 2.1% in 2012 vs. […]
European cracker margins are currently “at top of cycle levels” according to INEOS last week. But as the above chart shows (based on APPE data), they remain supported by supply issues rather than demand. Operating rates actually slipped to 81% in H1, a figure more normally associated with a downturn. Detailed output figures for Q2 […]
Our annual Asian conference in Singapore (co-organised as always with ICIS) was very interesting this week. We had some fascinating presentations from major companies including Reliance and Thai Oil, and China insights from CICCC and Chemease. Shell’s GM for strategy, Alexander Farina, discussed changes in cost competitiveness between benzene (grey column) and propylene (red) over […]
Q1 saw near record margins for European petchem producers. And there was also a scramble for product, as buyers rushed to secure product ahead of feedstock price-related increases. But this remained a supply-led market. As the chart above shows, based on APPE data, Q1 production (red triangle) was just 5.1 million tonnes. It was slightly […]
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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.