Last March, the blog highlighted the major changes taking place in ethylene, propylene and butadiene prices versus naphtha. It also analysed them in ICIS Chemical Business in September. The above chart now summarises the 2010 outcome, using European prices to enable comparison over the last 30 years. It was a most remarkable year. The chart […]
Tag Archives | polypropylene
The styrene business has been increasingly difficult in recent years: • CD and video sales went online, removing the need for polystyrene (PS) packaging • Prices for the main feedstock, benzene, leapt in the mid-2000′s, due to US gasoline market changes, forcing convertors to look at alternatives such as polypropylene • Recycling became an essential […]
The chemical industry has been one of the great beneficiaries from globalisation over the past 25 years. Today, it is hard to remember just how restricted markets used to be. Tariffs often applied within Regions, as well as between them. In his early years as a product manager, the blog would often spend days trying […]
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 […]
A remarkable thing happened this week in European olefin markets. Contract prices for butadiene and propylene were finalised for April/Q2 at higher levels than for ethylene. This has never happened before, in Europe or other regions. The chart, based on ICIS pricing data, shows how ethylene (blue line) has normally been the highest priced olefin. […]
The blog was in Vienna this week for a World Refining Association conference on the Global Petrochemical outlook. It had the privilege of chairing a very distinguished panel of industry leaders in a discussion about managing through the downturn. One of the key inputs came from Anton de Vries, LyondellBasell SVP, who had earlier shown […]
The above chart is a real ‘labour of love’ by the American Chemistry Council. It represents their best statistical effort to model: • Change in inventories for the major thermoplastics • Change in underlying demand for them, down the value chain This is critically important for the chemical industry, as it shows what is really […]
Propylene prices have been relatively strong in recent years, compared to ethylene. As the chart shows, they averaged 90% of the ethylene price between 2003-8. Now, however, they have returned to the historical 70% – 85% range. Propylene’s recent strength was well founded: • Benzene prices rose in 2004, making PP more attractive versus PS […]
The financial fallout from the Lyondell (LBI) bankruptcy continues, as the banks slowly begin to acknowledge their losses. According to Bloomberg, RBS has taken a $1.47bn hit, Citigroup $1.4bn, and Goldman Sachs $850m. UBS are also believed to have lost at least $500m. But like Bank of America (new owners of Merrill Lynch), they have […]
ICIS news reports that polymer demand is falling sharply in two key markets, China and Europe. This is a bad omen for demand in other chemical markets, as polymers are closely tied to GDP growth. Linda Naylor reports that PE volumes in Europe may be down 7% in 2008. Meanwhile, John Richardson and Malini Hariharan […]
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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.