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A geographic disconnect

There is an interesting disconnect between how players in one geography view conditions in another, and how local players see their own market dynamics. For example, major European chemical companies have a rather optimistic outlook on growth in China and Asia, pinning their hopes on the region to drive earnings growth in 2013 and beyond. […]

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US ethylene and PE margins headed for a record in Q1

It’s going to be a bonanza in the first quarter for US ethylene and polyethylene producers using ethane/propane feedstock. Buoyed by abundant natural gas liquids (NGL) production from shale gas, margins are headed for record highs, even as spot ethylene prices come off a bit, noted Susquehanna International Group analyst Don Carson. “With increases in […]

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US LNG exports and the gasoline situation

Very interesting comment from Jim Cramer on CNBC’s Mad Money last night on US gasoline prices – that part of the reason they are high is because US refiners are choosing to export gasoline. The US LNG export debate is analogous to what’s happening with US gasoline. The US is producing much more oil from […]

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Middle East petrochemical producers move up the cost curve

Just how far up the global ethylene cost curve will Middle East crackers go? One Wall Street analyst sees dramatic cost escalation for producers in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran as ethane supplies dry up and feedstock costs rise, especially for mixed feed crackers that use ethane as well as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) – […]

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Latin America’s shale

The spotlight on petrochemical investment in the Americas has shone on the US shale gas boom and the resulting rash of planned new ethane crackers that could increase US ethylene capacity by about 32% by 2017-2018. But Latin America’s game-changer could be Brazil’s pre-salt oil and gas bounty, as well as shale gas formations in […]

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US shale gas boom to lead to petrochemical bust

The US shale gas boom and the resulting low prices of natural gas are spurring a wave of new crackers and expansions in the country. Ultimately, the US ethylene market could see a 29% increase in capacity by 2017 (see our full analysis in the February 13 issue of ICIS Chemical Business. Three local producers […]

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Where is the volume growth?

As the first wave of third-quarter earnings results come in for the chemical sector, profits have largely been solid, showing year-on-year gains. Earnings were propelled by price increases. Yet, one element has been conspicuous in its absence – that of volume growth. Germany’s BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, posted a 6% year-on-year gain in […]

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Risk to Q4 chemical earnings estimates

Do third quarter earnings really matter? As we move into the thick of the earnings season, all eyes will be on how the fourth quarter is shaping up and how analysts will handicap fourth-quarter 2011 and full-year 2012 projections. Leading up to results, pre-announcement warnings have been scarce in the chemical group, boding well for […]

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Refining the red-headed stepchild

In the Western world, refining is the red-headed stepchild of the oil, gas and petrochemical business. Companies are either selling, spinning off or shutting down refineries – spurred by near-term profitability issues as well as long-term strategic shifts in direction. The desirability, or more aptly the lack thereof, of these assets is highlighted by LyondellBasell’s […]

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Time to reload the policy guns

Wild swings in global stock markets are emblematic of chaos in the collective mindset. Confusion reigns, and who can blame the participants? Wednesday’s 520 point, or 4.6% decline in the US Dow Jones industrial Average marked a third day of heightened volatility. The market was up 4.0% on Tuesday, after a 5.6% crash on Monday. Caught in […]

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