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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Ashland transforms with ISP acquisition

The M&A charge continues with US-based chemical company Ashland announcing its plan to acquire US-based International Specialty Products (ISP) for $3.2bn (€2.2bn). The deal further transforms Ashland into a higher-margin, higher-growth specialty chemicals leader, as the ISP transaction bolsters its offerings to the personal care, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and oilfield chemical areas. Looking at […]

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Chemical IPO market blooms

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If you’re a private equity firm looking to exit chemical investments, you have a menu of options in today’s market. Choices on the table include a straight sale into a seller’s market, a dividend recapitalization supported by buoyant financing markets, and the elusive initial public offering (IPO). The IPO route will be a popular one […]

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Volatility and reversal

The global economic recovery since we climbed out of the depths of the financial and economic crisis since 2009 has been described by many as a V-shaped recovery, refleting the strong rebound off the lows. But this recovery has also been characterized by volatility – volatility in crude oil prices, metals prices, commodity prices, and […]

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Finally – a US cracker!

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In the first of what we believe will be a wave of new investment in North American petrochemical capacity, Chevron Phillips Chemical has unveiled the first plans for a worldscale grassroots ethylene cracker in the US to take advantage of abundant supplies of shale gas. Recognize this as a watershed event. This is the first […]

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Small part, big deal

The economic impact from Japan’s crisis is beginning to be felt across the globe. Supply chain disruptions in the automotive and electronics sectors will take a bite out of chemical company profits in North America and Europe. One component in the supply chain can have a significant impact. For example, a shortage of engine-related micro […]

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