Attendees had a fascinating two days at our annual European Aromatics & Derivatives Conference in Berlin this week. As always, it was co-organised with ICIS, and featured a strong list of speakers: Sven Royall, VP at Shell Chemicals, put forward an optimistic outlook for benzene derivatives. He argued that substitution of PS by PP had […]
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The summer has seen several reports of reductions in ethane availability to Saudi petchem plants. This seems to have been due to two causes: • Saudi has cut back oil production by a third (4mbd) in order to comply with its 8.3mbd OPEC quota at a time of reduced global demand. This has also reduced […]
Our 9th European Aromatics and Derivatives Conference will be held in Berlin on 23-24 November. Co-organised as always with ICIS, it features a strong line-up of industry speakers including: • Shell Chemicals, Sven Royall, VP Intermediates on ‘What next for Aromatics’? • Ralf Kuhlmann (former Business Director, ExxonMobil Chemicals and APPE Chairman) on ‘European petrochemicals: […]
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, […]
Cerberus’ timing was clearly not very good with its Chrysler acquisition in Q3 2007. And Steve Feinberg, Cerberus co-founder, admitted this when he told the New York Times “we were too optimistic on timing. Maybe what we should have done was not bought it.” So far, they have lost $6bn of their original $7.4bn investment. […]
Oil prices have been rising steadily over the past few weeks, and are up 20% since the start of the year. Yet US oil inventories have also been rising, and are now at their highest level since July 1993. Stocks have risen in 22 of the last 26 weeks. Whilst OPEC production cuts have certainly […]
TOTAL’s CEO, Christophe de Margerie, has become even more pessimistic on the future of oil supplies. In 2007, when prices were rising, he suggested it would be very difficult for production to reach even 100mbd, versus the 130 mbd or more assumed by the IEA and the US government. Now, he is warning that the […]
TOTAL have adopted a very clear strategy for surviving the downturn. The results statement today particularly highlights their success in strengthening their balance sheet. Net debt to equity now stands at just 15.4%, whilst they are “maintaining a high-level of liquidity and divesting non-strategic holdings”. TOTAL also see a need “in the short-term” to adjust […]
Many Asian companies have been cutting back petchem production in recent weeks. Now TOTAL have become the first to follow suit in Europe, with the announcement that they will shutdown the Carling No 2 cracker for a month from mid-November. These decisions are never easy. But as the blog has noted before, when times are […]
OPEC has called an emergency meeting for 18 November to discuss measures to combat collapsing oil prices. But as the blog noted last week, by then they could be looking to defend $50/bbl. And it seems Saudi Arabia agrees. Market reports suggest ‘the world’s top oil exporter has already started cutting oil supplies to European […]
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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.