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Chemicals and the Economy

2011 Budgets

The blog will publish its annual Budget Outlook for 2011 next weekend. And so as usual, its now time to review last year’s Outlook. Past performance may not be a perfect guide to future outcomes. But it is one of the best that we have. The 2010 Outlook was titled ‘Budgeting for a New Normal’, […]

China, USA, give cash subsidies to electric autos

Greater use of electric autos is a win-win for the chemical industry. They will not only reduce competition with gasoline for feedstock, but also increase polymer demand – to replace steel and glass. So China’s entry into the market could be very important. As always, the blog has been brought up to date by its […]

Shell sees “supply revolution” in natural gas

Natural gas markets, so important in relation to chemical feedstock availability and pricing, are undergoing major change as we transition to the New Normal. The Middle East, which had been in surplus, is now moving to a more balanced position in some countries, such as Saudi Arabia. But the USA, which had expected to need […]

Western retailing enters the New Normal

More evidence is emerging of the major changes taking place in Western retailing as we transition to the New Normal. Last week, my fellow blogger Doris de Guzman reported from the World Detergents conference that: • P&G’s CEO Robert McDonald noted that in “the last 18 months, 60% of all new laundry and detergent products […]

NiTech wins ICIS Innovation Award

Regular readers may remember that the blog is also non-exec chairman of NiTech Solutions, a technology spin-out from the chemical engineering department at Heriot Watt University in Scotland. They will therefore understand its delight that NiTech have won this year’s ICIS Innovation award in the SME (Small/Medium size Enterprise) category. The picture above shows the […]

Asian demand key to global chemical outlook

As promised last week, the blog has undertaken its usual 6 monthly analysis of global chemical production, excluding pharma, by major region. The data comes from the comprehensive American Chemistry Council (ACC) report. It shows global production (blue diamonds) was 4% above the previous peak in H1 2008. But there is a considerable variation in […]

Uncertainty rules in petrochemicals

The blog’s former ICI colleague, Tom Crotty, aptly summarised the mood of most petchem players at this week’s meeting in Budapest, Hungary, when telling ICIS’ Nigel Davis that “2011 is a very tough call to forecast”. Crotty is this year’s president of EPCA (European Petrochemical Association), and it was clear from the blog’s discussions that […]

Chemical Industry & Employment Outlook webinar

The blog is pleased to have been invited by the American Chemical Society (ACS) to join its online panel discussion on “Chemical Industry & Employment Outlook: Trends 2010 and Beyond”, taking place via webinar on Tuesday 2 November. Its co-panellists will be Pat Confalone, Vice-President, Global R&D, Du Pont; and Susan Butts, Senior Director of […]

Markets anticipate the QE2 ‘Lifeboat Party’

Warren Buffett, the legendary US investor once cautioned that “over time, markets will do extraordinary, even bizarre, things.” We are certainly living through such times today. In August, the US S&P 500 Index fell 5%, as investors worried about the end of stimulus packages, and the return of banking problems in Europe. The IeC Boom/Gloom […]

Shell focuses on profitable upgrading of hydrocarbons

Business models have been changing over the past decade in the chemical industry, as illustrated in the above chart. Initially, the dotcom era began to put pressure on former ‘specialty businesses’, as customers discovered they were paying over the odds for technical support that was no longer required. The internet made it much easier to […]

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