July 2010 Archives
Plastic Bertrand was not the singer on his hit single Ca Plane Pour Moi, it has emerged in a Belgian court case.
An expert linguist compared the 1977 punk hit to Plastic's 2006 cover version, and decided it was the same voice on both, according to this article on the BBC - about a singer that the Blog had never heard of, but my colleague Stephen Burns advises me that the single was based on the original, Jet Boy Jet Girl.
The Southwestern Fertilizer Conference in San Antonio came to a close on Tuesday, and as he returned to Europe a delegate writes to the Blog with more top tips for next year's NPRA ...
"If you're still reviewing restaurants for San Antonio, try Bohanan's, 219 E Houston St.
Very good indeed. The owner of the Cowboys was there last night, who is a man not short of a few bob.
There were also more men wearing jackets than I've ever seen in one room in Texas, and it wasn't because of the air conditioning. Steve."
What's the connection between the Dallas Cowboys American football team and fertilizers? It sounds like the beginning of an off-colour joke, but no. Our own Carl Roache has spent the weekend in San Antonio, Texas for the annual Southwestern Fertilizer Conference, and sends this picture to the Blog to show that the conference delegates are not the only visitors in town.
"The world famous American football team the Dallas Cowboys are staying at an adjacent hotel as they undertake a summer training camp at the Alamodome, with fans coming from far and wide to watch their team go through their paces," he tells me.
Delegates to APPEC 2010 (26th Asia-Pacific Petroleum Conference) in Singapore on 12-14 October are hoping that some top corporate entertainment will take place at the new Marina Bay Sands Hotel with its 57th floor Skypark infinity pool.
Although petchem Singaporeans are a bit sniffy about the new casino ("full of off-duty manual workers," one tells me) the open-air rooftop poolside bar with its stupendous view of the Singapore skyline will be the must-have venue for oil traders' corporate events this year.
If only the APIC conference was going back to Singapore.
The Farnborough Airshow, which has been on all week and heavily covered by our sister publication Flight, reaches its climax today with the famous Weekend Flying Display. Since Farnborough is to the west of
Meanwhile, the plastics headlines have been grabbed by Boeing's revolutionary new "plastic plane," the 787 Dreamliner, which is the first plane to be made from 50% carbon fibre composite material.
Carbon fibre materials have reduced the weight of the aircraft to such an extent that there is a 20% saving on fuel.
Energy trading jobs at JP Morgan in
The news came at the same time as eight out of nine oil swaps brokers resigned from MF Global, after its new chief executive Jon Corzine described the company's performance as "completely unacceptable," and closed the oil swaps desk in
Registrations for EPCA 2010 in Budapest are coming thick and fast, with the members' area of the website now showing that a total of 1,754 delegates have signed up for the conference.
That looks like a strong showing at this stage, as the EPCA 2009 conference had 1,900 delegates.
The ICIS suite will be in the Marriott Hotel, the main conference hotel, in the "View A" suite on the mezzanine floor, for the conference which takes place 2-6 October 2010.
Here's a crazy idea. Why not take the mass of garbage floating in the mid-Pacific and build a futuristic holiday destination there? Rotterdam-based architects WHIM have put out some artists' impressions of what a resort built on a floating island of plastic junk and various debris might look like, and have got themselves news coverage as if it could really happen. Welcome to Recycled
"The proposal has three main aims: Cleaning our oceans from a gigantic amount of plastic waste; Creating new land; And constructing a sustainable habitat. Recycled island seeks the possibilities to recycle the plastic waste on the spot and to recycle it into a floating entity."
Ethanol groups have produced a series of video campaign ads to promote ethanol over crude oil products - my fellow blogger
"We won't have to wait millions of years to replenish our ETHANOL reserves -
"No wars have ever been fought over ETHANOL -
"No beaches have been closed due to ETHANOL spills -
Granta, the most influential English-language literary magazine, owned by Sigrid Rausing, heiress to plastic packaging giant Tetra Pak, will open an online archive this week of more than 30 years of new writing, according to an article today in guardian.co.uk.
The quarterly journal, more like a slim paperback book than a magazine, featured writing in the 1980s from up and coming writers including Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan.
The Blog's collection of early Grantas has unfortunately been sitting in a bookcase in the conservatory so the spines are pretty bleached and the books are not worth as much as they should be. I think I'll take a couple on my next long journey to remind myself I used to be an early adopter.
David Beckham is obsessed with Lego, he told the world in a live interview on Yahoo on 14 July, which I saw quoted in the Sunday Times today. Answering a question about what he would have chosen for a job if he hadn't been a sports star, he said that he loved drawing and he loved building Lego.
When he was playing in
It brought a lump to the Blog's throat to hear the glamorous sports icon describe how he and his three sons still love playing with Lego, the perfect petrochemical toy, although he did express some concern that this might make him sound a bit weird.
(If you have difficulty launching the video, click through on the Yahoo link.)
Vaseline, the skincare group which produces the famous petroleum jelly, has launched a skin-lightening application for Facebook in the Indian market. Users can make the pictures in their profile pictures lighter. The advertising campaign is fronted by Bollywood star Shahid Kapur, who is depicted with his face divided into dark and fair halves, according to this article in the Telegraph.
Skin-lightening products are popular in the Asian markets, and billboards advertising them are a frequent sight in the airports and shopping malls of Singapore and other cities. The "Transform Your Face On Facebook With Vaseline Men" app is to promote Vaseline's new range.
I came across this new advert for Total at Heathrow, showing a racing car against a backdrop of
The FIFA World Cup, the London 2012 Olympics and any big sporting event adding to the gaiety of nations can be boom-time for plastics and petrochemicals, the Blog is cheered to hear. Even the Vuvuzela craze has been an unexpected success story. SABIC has kindly sent this celebratory picture of HDPE vuvuzelas branded with the SABIC logo.
Taking advantage of a few days in the sun by the sea, Blog Senior and I have been trying out a wheelchair.
It's a whole new experience, because pushing a baby or toddler, even two in a double buggy as I used to, is nothing compared to a full-grown adult.
Pushing a wheelchair around on anything other than the flattest promenade, is like spending a day on a stepmaster. Even the slightest upward slope demands full body effort, and a downward slope is a matter of peril. Every pavement has a strong sideward camber, and even a lowered kerb presents a ridge that low-speed wheels struggle to mount.
7 things I now know about pushing a wheelchair.
- You build up shoulders and get bruised ankles.
- You sleep like a log
- You get a great tan (the rays bounce off the steel)
- You work off all the calories in 5 meals-a-day
- You can hit yourself in the face while swinging the heavy metal chair into the car
- That having your passenger get out to walk the difficult bits makes you look like a complete fraud
- Wheelchair pushers are invisible: you never notice how many there are until you become one.
Writing this reminds me that I have met a well-known wheelchair bound petchem trader on a number of occasions. His name is Andrew, and whenever I met him at ICIS methanol lunches, he was always the centre of attention, particularly female attention. I can't remember for the life of me who his invisible colleague was who used to push him around.
Ish Medeles, currently market manager at INEOS Olefins and Polymers USA, is going to move to a position at INEOS Phenol, he announced by email to business contacts on Monday.
Medeles, who formerly held positions as BTX manager at Samsung America Inc and as international crude trader at Chevron, will be handing over his current portfolio in the next couple of months, to a successor who has yet to be named.
Senior petchem people who join chemical consultants, after a career in the industry, find it hard to get back out of consultancy, a chemicals head-hunter told me on Thursday.
They often find that being a consultant is not as rewarding as working in the industry, but the flow from the business into consultancy is generally a one-way street, the recruiter said.
He was commenting on the recruitment market in view of some current senior consultancy vacancies.
It's hard to go to employers in the oil and chemical sector and propose a candidate who has been out of the business side of the industry for the past year: they're just not interested, he added.
The London 2012 Olympics will create a plastics bonanza, featuring miles of plastics piping, kerbing and stadium seating, according to a press release on 6 July from the British Plastics Federation (BPF).
More appealingly, Hornby PLC, the models and collectibles group, has also secured a licence to provide official London 2012 merchandise across its Corgi, Hornby, Scalextric and Airfix brands - which rely heavily on the use of plastics in their designs.
An old board game called BP Offshore Oil Strike from the early 1970s has been uncovered at a UK toy museum, and is getting lots of coverage on news websites like Metro for its "eerie foreshadowing of the current oil disaster."
In fact, it's a board game along the lines of Monopoly or Risk, where players explore for oil, build platforms and construct pipelines to their home countries. To introduce an element of chance to a straightforward game of building up assets, there are also "hazard cards" which introduce random rig explosions, resulting in oil spills and $1 million in clean-up costs.
A replica of the FIFA World Cup trophy, made of 11 kg cocaine mixed with acetone or gasoline, was seized at the international airport in Colombia, according to an article on CNN.
The 36 cm-tall statue was painted gold with green stripes on the base, but the paint was in such a 'bad condition' that it aroused suspicion. The local drugs chief said that the cocaine had been mixed with acetone or gasoline to make it more mouldable.
Wondering how to fill the summer lull (Sommerloch) in the office? Sign up for a free 80-minute webinar on the Asian aromatics market on Tuesday 3 August, in the morning European time, or afternoon Singapore time. The key topics being discussed will be:
- The key shifts in the supply and demand balance in Asia's benzene and toluene markets, the impact of China on these markets and the outlook for rest of 2010
- The convoluted market trends of Asia styrene
- What's behind the downtrend and lacklustre trading conditions in Asian mixed xylenes and para-xylene, plus an update on plants and projects in China and the Middle East and the outlook in the downstream PTA market.
- The PX Asia Contract Price (ACP) versus spot prices as well as how the two pricing mechanisms are linked and affect each other
I know 80 minutes sounds like a long time, but we all know that online webinars are an excellent opportunity for multi-tasking. The Blog has already blocked off that morning, and will be settling back with an extra-tall cup of coffee to enjoy the show.
Click here for more details and the FREE registration form.
Since the Blog first came across two John Mitchells at a recent EPCA, the duplicate names have come thick and fast, with two John Richardsons and then two Stuart Goldsmiths.
Then today the existence of two Mike Smiths in the world of petrochemicals has come to light. Even more curious than the other doubles, these two are both consultants, with one at DeWitt on olefins, and the other at CMAI on polyolefins. Whatever next?
Thys Siermann, formerly Commercial Manager Olefins at Dow Europe in Horgen, moved to a similar role on polyethylene on 1 July 2010, I hear from Nel today.
His colleague in the US, Jose Obregon is moving from Houston to Horgen, together with his family, to take over the olefins role.
Jose Obregon was previously Product Director - Solution Polyethylene Base Plastics - North America.
The drunken oil trader who lost his employer $10 million in a binge of unauthorized trading (see original ICIS news article) was back in the news this week as he had his day in court.
Steve Perkins, formerly of PVM Oil Futures, was fined £72,000 by the Financial Services Authority, but what caught the Blog's eye in this article in the Evening Standard was that he was reportedly "in talks with a Swiss commodity broker Starsupply Renewables about a possible job in Geneva."
Since then it has emerged that Perkins is already working at Starsupply Renewables, the world's largest biofuels brokerage, in Switzerland, following the route of so many of our own petchem traders in recent months. He will not be trading during his five-year FSA suspension, but creating trading manuals for graduate recruits.
John Mitchell, formerly of LyondellBasell, has joined traders Avestra Chemical Suisse SA from 1 July 2010, the company announced on Friday.
For EPCA 2010 in Budapest, ICIS will be in the main conference hotel in the "View A" suite on the mezzanine floor of the Marriott. The main conference proceedings will be in the Ballroom on the same level.
ICIS editors have already been setting up meetings with their super-keen industry contacts during the conference, which takes place on 2-6 October, and the first party invitation arrived this morning.
Delegates are pleased that the conference is in Budapest for the first time, after numerous EPCAs in Monte Carlo, Berlin and Vienna. The Blog could never tire of Monte Carlo but is willing to give Budapest a shot.
The Lego Star Wars Imperial Shuttle is coming out this September, and I can't believe that the new Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story 3 is set to be this year's must-have toy when this new 2,504-piece fantasy in ABS will be in the shops for a mere $260.
I'm impressed that the Imperial Shuttle has rotating double laser wing cannons, landing gear, as well as a display stand so that it can gather dust on the filing cabinet next to the Blog's previous favourite Lego Star Wars Diorama.
See Stephanie's article on Trouble in Toytown.
Chemicals are everywhere, even on the manicured English tennis lawns of Wimbledon.
A letter in the Times today spotted by James pointed out the coincidence of chemical elements from the periodic table featuring in the names of Chinese tennis players.
Sir, Chemists among the tennis fans will not have failed to notice the names of two particular competitors this year at Wimbledon. Na Li lost narrowly to Serena Williams and in the men's singles Y Lu yesterday beat Andy Roddick. Students of the periodic table will smile knowing that Na (sodium) and Li (lithium) are next to each other in one group of that table and Y (yttrium) and Lu (lutetium) are next each other in another. As Chinese tennis flourishes may we expect further coincidences of the chemical elements on the courts?
Barnstaple, N Devon