January 2011 Archives
The Blog has received its first Lunar New Year e-greetings card, welcoming the Year of the Rabbit on 3-4 February 2011.
"Gong Xi Fa Cai! Xin Nian Kuay Ler!" says the card from my shipbroker friend Mark S.
"May the Rabbit fulfil your desires and bring your dreams closer."
An excellent sentiment, which the Blog is happy to second.
(picture: Braemar Quincannon)
This trailer was running on the on-demand film system on a recent flight. It is for the British Airways Face-To-Face scheme, which helps small businesses in
The company is owned by married couple John and Erin O'Sullivan who manufacture workwear clothing "which can withstand temperatures four times (hotter than) the surface of the sun."
Their products are geared towards the oil and petrochemical industries, and they need to travel back and forth to their manufacturing base in
John Batty of Univar took retirement at the end of December, after 30 years in the sourcing, shipping and marketing of solvent chemicals, the Blog hears belatedly via the office grapevine.
John was product manager solvents at Univar, and previously a director of Chemitrade, and in both roles he was a long-standing good friend of those of us at ICIS who benefited from his wide-ranging knowledge of the chemical industry.
"Currently retired and considering the next phase," he has written on his LinkedIn profile.
He was due to be giving a paper at the Arab Fertilizer Association annual conference at a hotel in the centre of
Wisely, he decided on Saturday against going, particularly as the UK Foreign Office was warning travellers against all but essential travel to
"I heard this morning that the whole event was cancelled anyway. Just not worth the risk .... Anyway quite relieved," he texted on Sunday.
The AFA Fertilizer Conference was set for 1-3 February 2011 in Cairo, Egypt.
ICIS runs an Ammonia Handling Workshop in partnership with IFA and with the support of AFA. At the time of reporting, the AFA website in Egypt was down.
Anneke Duijverman, former commercial manager at Bax Chemicals, has decided to leave at the end of February, the company informed its business partners by email today.
She has been with Bax for five years, and was active in the acetates market. Norman Woelke, general manager of Bax, will take over her portfolio until further notice.
Ahead of the summer EPL in Copenhagen, some canny travellers have been taking advice from local friends.
Ahead of the summer EPL in Copenhagen, some canny travellers have been taking advice from local friends.
It seems that the Danish capital has some fantastic food. I've just read through this review which Truong has kindly forwarded to me, and was struck by words like "incredible", "wonderments", "life-changing", "absurdly delicious" and my favourite, "the best onion of my life."
The turnout of EPL delegates at the official dinner is generally strong at the summer EPL, but there is always the risk that the turnout is inversely proportional to the quality of the local cuisine.
The Blog has a feeling that a few delegates will be picking up the phone to make their restaurant reservations for 14-16 June today.
Taking on a strongly Chinese flavour for the month of January, in the run up to the Lunar New Year, the Blog is still celebrating the joining together of ICIS and CBI in China.
I had a warm and welcoming week with the editorial team in Shanghai, working on our methodologies, information gathering and annual market reviews, together with our Editorial Director, Ms Chris Qi. One main difference to our editorial teams elsewhere in ICIS is that the editors each specialise in just one product, so they build up great expertise. Their presentations on their markets were very impressive.
The photo shows some of the key editors in the Shanghai team.
Top row: Amber Liu (sbr), Echo Han (oxos), Amy Tong (sbr), Dolly Wu (ICIS news), Shirley Xu (lubes), Rainy Ma (polymers), Lynn Wu (caustic).
Middle row: Keny Jin (styrene), Jenny Yi (bisphenolA), Maggie Zhu (pvc), Natalie Hui (sulphur), Alfred Wong (Director), Viola Pan (BTX), Vivian Liu (BTX), Chris Qi (Director), Linda Lin (BTX).
Front row: Lily Zhang (styrene), Vicky Long (meg), Amanda Zhang (ICIS news), Jessia Shen (phenol/acetone), Besty Zhou (pvc), Sam Liang (methanol), Amy Yang (abs).
Hey James, when you're in Dubai for the ICIS Middle East Baseoils Conference in October, be sure to stop off for a coffee at the world's highest restaurant, which opened today on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa tower.
The restaurant is part of "At.mosphere," the latest record-breaker from the Emirate.
In a follow-up story to the Blog's original posting "Martin Riepl joins AOT," another Summit trader will join AOT.
Clay Walker, former aromatics trader at Summit in Houston, will join his fellow trader Riepl at Astra Oil Trading (AOT), I hear in Houston from my aromatics colleague.
The Blog harks back to the first inkling we had of these moves at EPCA in October, when the rumour was circulating that Riepl would not be the only one to be leaving Summit.
"He will be joining March 1st," a company source told ICIS today.
The US Ambassador to Belgium, His Excellency Howard Gutman, will be the guest after-dinner speaker at the EPL dinner in March.
The event will take place at the Hilton Hotel (now The Hotel) in Brussels, on Thursday, 3 March 2011.
The theme of his speech will be: "If Barack Obama Were a Country, He Would Be Belgium."
The price of the dinner will be € 88.00. Book via the EPL website:
A lot of editors have returned to work at ICIS in the last year. Really a lot. And in the field of market reporting, known for its portable skills, the fact that so many who left have now come back is worthy of comment.
I can list James M, Ron C, Judith T, Brian B and Tim R - all senior and very skilled editors, who bring wide and valuable experience to our team.
And among our more junior reporters, there's Helena S and Sarah T ... All of them are relieved to be back, having experienced some mixed and even harsh circumstances on the outside.
One could speculate on the reasons. Perhaps it's the economy; perhaps it's the change in editorial direction; perhaps it's a pure coincidence.
Whatever it is, the Blog is delighted to celebrate their return. And to (nearly) all ex-ICIS readers of the Blog, whether in Dubai, Hong Kong or at university, the Blog says ... keep in touch.
BP's deal with Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, has come in for a predictable backlash in the US. The company which was regularly referred to during the US Gulf Macondo disaster as "British Petroleum" is now being called "Bolshoi Petroleum."
In Saturday's papers, the US press was quoted calling BP "Bolshevik Petroleum." And in today's FT, a US politician on the House natural resources committee is quoted as saying: "With this deal, it now stands for Bolshoi Petroleum." The Blog has been wondering what he was trying to convey here. Was it the Russian for "big" or "great"? Or was he comparing them to a bunch of ballerinas?
The days of the spouses' programme at conferences may be over, but chemical folk are not averse to taking a partner along on the occasional trip. Especially those whose children are past school-age.
The summer EPL meeting, usually in a warm location, is often the time to catch sight of these rare birds.
EPCA in Budapest saw a strong turnout of partners at the Official Opening Reception at the Hungarian National Gallery.
On considering this important business issue of our time, the Blog has established:
The Key Benefits Of Taking Your Partner With You On A Business Trip:
1 He can carry everything.
2 You avoid having to work out the time difference for calling home.
3 You avoid the awkwardness of one of you having seen all the newly released films.
4 You can feature in some of your own photos: so here I am, standing in front of the magnetic levitating Maglev train into Shanghai from Pudong airport, after the 11 hour 10 minute flight from London.
"Plasticopedia.com" is a website so addictive that Times columnist Robert Crampton has gone public about his intention to give it up, I read in his column in Saturday's Times Magazine supplement. He describes it as "barking mad," and it is quite distracting once you get into looking at the pictures.
Not "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Plastics," the Blog is disappointed to read, but a site devoted to speculating about the plastic surgery that celebrities may or may not have had done.
I'm forwarding the link to ex/colleagues Carolyn and Linda, both of whom are authorities on this very subject and could teach this website a thing or two.
I remember Carolyn forwarding a multiple choice quiz to us where we had to rate various female surgical enhancements as "real" or "fake." After two or three questions, they all looked the same to me. Carolyn, however, could tell the answer at a single glance.
Stan Klocek, former Executive Vice President International at Haas TCM in Westchester, Pennsylvania, left the company at the end of December and is open to new ideas, he told friends this week.
Klocek was previously with Sunoco and Chemconnect, and he was President of the Northeastern Chemical Association (NECA) in the US for 2003.
The Blog has memories and even photos of Stan at Xmas parties in New York around that time, and European aromatics folk will remember his tours of Europe, together with Joachim Schaefer, when he was promoting Chemconnect.
(photo: Stan on left)
Aside from all the fantastic benefits of ICIS expanding its interest in CBI China - announced this week - I hope that I will be able to spend more time with my clever, energetic and ever friendly colleagues in Shanghai, maybe even with the C1 editors in Guangzhou.
The culinary highlight of this trip was my introduction to Shanghai hairy crab, but you need an expert to steer you through the meal. The season for the female hairy crabs is the autumn, and for the male it's December/January. I was lucky to have my colleague Cris to guide me through how to eat it, and which bits to avoid. It's a lot of work and makes one huge mess.
Another favourite dish which I discovered entirely by chance from an impenetrable Chinese menu in a local cheap restaurant near my hotel, is chicken on a bed of red chillis. I liked this so much I had it twice. Underneath all those chillis, there's chicken and peanuts, and it's a bit spicy but nowhere near as bad as it looks. It's about 90% chillis.
Traders Joachim Schaefer and Bettina Fronzek have left chemical distributor, Arpadis.
An employee at the Arpadis Deutschland office in Essen told an ICIS caller today that they had left.
No news yet on their final destination. One trader said it's a mystery, no-one knows, while another trader claimed to know.
Martin Riepl, formerly with Linz-based traders Summit, has joined Astra Oil Trading (AOT) of Zug, Switzerland from January 2011.
"I will be based in Linz and we are going to trade petchems," he told the Blog on Tuesday afternoon.
Riepl was out of the market for three months after leaving Summit in September. He previously traded aromatics there.
The Hilton Brussels, long-time home of the European Petrochemical Luncheon (EPL), has been sold to the Swedish hotel group Pandox, and is now "The Hotel," according to an article in the Dutch press spotted by Blog reader Lode.
EPL-goers, who have been complaining about the Hilton Brussels for many years, will be relieved to read that the building will be undergoing a two-year refurbishment as of February, but this will take place while the hotel remains open.
The Blog is glad to have booked at the Sofitel across the road from the Hilton for the key dates of 1-3 March 2011, when the ICIS Olefins Conference and EPL are taking place in Brussels. Blog readers are recommended to do the same. The ICIS rate at the Sofitel is just €195/night INCLUDING breakfast, so it's a no-brainer.
(photo: Johanna in ICIS Heren Dűsseldorf office)
Ed Cox is in
"The new office in
Check the photo for the view from the office - right in the heart of the city - but with a park and trees for a view.
Johanna will be leading on German gas news to start as we expand our coverage. Sadly there was no bottle of champagne to be smashed to mark the opening, but the coffee machine does great cappuccinos as the next best thing."
Have you ever wanted to design stuff in plastic and churn it out in the privacy of your own home? Now you can buy your own 3D-printer and produce models to your own spec in shiny fresh ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), according to articles on every techie blog in the world today.
The Thing-O-Matic was unveiled this weekend at the huge Consumer Electronics Show in
For petchem folk, this is really taking your work home with you.
Last week I met someone by the name of Chandrasekhar in a meeting about publishing technology. The name was familiar, I said, thinking maybe it was someone I had met in business, or someone from school.
"It is the Indian Smith," he said. "But it is also the name of the only Indian winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics, who happens to be my uncle."
Impressed, I told him that I had just finished reading a book about another (fictional) winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics: "Solar" by Ian McEwan.
It is an entertaining account of a scientist's quest for fame, love and renewable energy. For Blog readers searching for the chemical angle, there's plenty of hydrogen and the plot finale is set in
It is the start of the university tem and the Blog and son are on the long drive west with a car full of electronics, physics text books and enough clean clothes for three months.
Exams start on Tuesday so we've had an end-year break of admirable studiousness. There has been a lot of burning the midnight oil, and real work at a desk which always looks so much more convincing than a sprawl on the bed with a laptop.
We pull off the road in the early afternoon half-way through
"Brunch is good, but Brinner is even better," my son tells me.
"It's where you get up so late you've missed lunch and eat breakfast for dinner," he tells me, giving me a new and unwanted insight into his life at university.
We arrive at the student house in
These are the scientists of our future. Lawd help us.
Ronnie Corbett is funny in this sketch in a greengrocer's about his Blackberry and his Apple, and you'll have a good groan at the gag at the end. Thanks to Julia for spotting this clip from the "The One Ronnie Xmas Special."
These were my most read posts of 2010. What does it say about the Blog's readers? They like movies, toys, travel, fashion, who's who corporate moves and advance news about who's attending conferences. No big surprises there.
A slow start to signing up for the conference, but others were encouraged after the first few paid up.
Boys and their traditional toys.
A lot of plane-spotters amongst our regulars.
One of the dafter stories to emerge from the dark days of the BP disaster.
Any excuse to get a photo of the pool against the
Who's Who moves are always popular, but Nick King ??
The bumper turnout was a sure sign that the fourth quarter was looking good for many in the biz.
Anything with pictures of surgically enhanced women ...
A surprise entry considering that the petchems biz is not generally the place for flamboyant fashion statements.
A great big Happy New Year 2011 to all Blog readers. Brighten up the first day back in the office by downloading a cheerful free wallpaper, and resolve to do everything better this year. All the best to you, your family and your colleagues from everyone at the Blog and elsewhere at ICIS.