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Chemicals and the Economy

BASF, INEOS establish €5bn Styrolution JV

The styrene business has been increasingly difficult in recent years: • CD and video sales went online, removing the need for polystyrene (PS) packaging • Prices for the main feedstock, benzene, leapt in the mid-2000’s, due to US gasoline market changes, forcing convertors to look at alternatives such as polypropylene • Recycling became an essential […]

Brainstorming on biomass

The blog has come across a useful new tool for global brainstorming, run out of San Francisco by DiscoveryCast. They have recently organised a major event with Paris-based SpecialChem to review the current state of play in bio-based initiatives. This involved a group of 550 experts from 400 companies (including 3M, Dow, Michelin, DuPont, Arkema, […]

TOTAL moves forward on methanol to olefins

Coal was the original source of most chemicals. It was then replaced in the 1960’s by oil-based feedstocks. Their lower cost of manufacturing led to the boom in applications and volumes seen over the past 50 years. More recently, biomass’ potential is now being explored. At the same time, major companies such as BASF, Dow, […]

McBride warns of “weak retail sales across Europe”

The blog is a great believer in the retail sector’s ability to help us forecast chemical industry trends. McBride is Europe’s leading ‘own brand’ in the household and personal sector. Its profit warning on Thursday of “weak retail sales across Europe“, therefore rings alarm bells. The sector is a large outlet for chemicals, and has […]

LyondellBasell to exit Chapter 11

LyondellBasell (LBI) is to exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy on 30 April, 15 months after entering it in January 2009. The past 15 months have been an expensive lesson for those debt-holders who financed Basell’s purchase of Lyondell in July 2007, at the peak of the market. LBI entered Chapter 11 with $24bn of debt. […]

IMF targets bankers’ FAT

We are often told that investment bankers are much cleverer than the rest of us. But sometimes, they do seem to lack common sense. Their behaviour since the Crisis, in paying out $bns in bonuses to the lucky few, seems no way to appease understandable public anger over the cost of the banks’ bailout. The […]

The need for innovation during the downturn

The blog was recently interviewed by ICIS’ Anna Jagger at Vienna Airport, on its way back from the World Refining Conference. The conversation covered the need for companies to focus on innovation, as well as on survival, during the downturn. It also highlighted specific examples of opportunities that could be pursued today, within the context […]

CEOs remain cautious over 2010 Outlook

The blog’s quarterly survey of company Outlook statements shows CEOs remain very cautious. There has been a rebound after the destocking disaster of Q4 2008 – Q1 2009. But there seems little confidence that we will quickly return to the levels of demand and margin seen in the 2003-7 Boom period. China’s stimulus and loan […]

The blog in 2009

The blog is now 2.5 years old. Readership continues to grow, both within the chemical industry and its investment community. It is now read in 121 countries, and 2735 cities, versus 89 countries and 1244 cities a year ago. Readers are also very loyal, with 23% reading it twice a week. Its readership covers all […]

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