Sadly, my July forecast that US-China tariffs could lead to a global polyethylene price war seems to be coming true. As I have argued since March 2014 (US boom is a dangerous game), it was always going to be difficult for US producers to sell their vastly increased output. The expansions were of course delayed […]
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US ethylene spot prices are tumbling as the major new shale gas expansions come on line, as the chart based on ICIS pricing data confirms: They began the year at $617/t, but have since more than halved to $270/t on Friday They are only around 10% higher than their all-time low of $240/t in September […]
Our 16th World Aromatics and Derivatives conference takes place on Wednesday/Thursday in Amsterdam. Co-organised with ICIS, it provides an excellent opportunity for delegates to meet and exchange views in the critical end-of-year period. It features the usual strong line-up of speakers: Ronald Doesburg, GM for Shell’s Base Chemicals business, will describe how innovation is driving new […]
300,000 homes and half a million cars have been destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. And in terms of business, it is often forgotten that Houston is home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other metro area than New York. The damage will take years to repair, as families have to regroup and re-establish their lives […]
The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones. Similarly, coal is being left in the ground because we no longer need it any more. And the same is happening to oil, as Saudi Arabia recognised last year in its Vision 2030: “Within 20 years, we will be an economy that doesn’t depend mainly […]
China’s strategies for oil, refining and petrochemical production are very different from those in the West, as analysis of Sinopec’s Annual and 20-F Reports confirms. As the above chart shows, it doesn’t aim to maximise profit: □ Since 1998, it has spent $45bn on capex in the refining sector, and $38bn in the chemicals sector □ […]
Some years ago, when China was well on the way to becoming the world’s largest importer of chemicals, a reporter asked the chairman of Sinochem, China’s largest chemical company if China intended to keep increasing its imports? “Not at all” was Su Shulin’s reply, “This is temporary. It is not our strategy. We will become […]
The financial crisis began a decade ago, yet production of the key “building block products” for the European petrochemical industry has still not recovered to its pre-Crisis peak, as the chart shows (based on new APPE data): Combined production of ethylene, propylene and butadiene (olefins) peaked at 39.7 million tonnes in 2007 A […]
“There isn’t anybody who knows what is going to happen in the next 12 months. We’ve never been here before. Things are out of control. I have never seen a situation like it.” This comment last month from former UK Finance Minister, Ken Clarke, aptly summarises the uncertainty facing the global economy. As I note in a new analysis, major policy changes are […]
Just when you think something really can’t get any worse, it does. Sadly, that’s the story on chemical industry force majeures since my last half-year review. As I noted then: “There is no such thing as an accident. The chemical industry, like others, has known this for over 30 years, since the adoption of Quality […]
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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 as 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.