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Chemicals and the Economy

Dow puts debt problems behind it

A year ago, the Dow Chemical stock price was below $6, giving the company a total market capitalisation of just c$7bn. Since then, Dow has regained the initiative in a very focused way. First, it sold Morton Salt for $1.7bn, then it sold $2.25bn of new equity and refinanced $4.65bn of long-term debt. Next, it […]

China’s petchem imports soar on oil price speculation

After yesterday’s post, Edwin Pang of Credit Suisse in Hong Kong has raised an interesting question over the likely rationale for China’s massive increase in petchem imports, such as polyethylene (PE), in 2009. As the chart shows, its monthly PE demand (production plus net imports), was very steady in 2007-8. It averaged 980kt in 2007, […]

Moody’s sees negative outlook for Asian petchems

Its not just the World Bank that is concerned about the outlook for East Asia. Today, Moody’s (the ratings agency) says it has a negative outlook for the petrochemical sector over the next 12-18 months. It concludes: • “In response to weakening global demand, Asia Pacific’s petrochemical companies are rapidly shedding inventory and delaying their […]

Dow pays $78.97/share for Rohm & Haas

The blog has always had enormous respect for Dow. This was due to their ability to manage unconventional risks, in a way that other chemical companies (such as the blog’s former employer, ICI), found impossible. Even when things went wrong, they always had a Plan B, which allowed them to exit on a sensible basis. […]

Cracker margins remain under pressure

The chart above, from Paul Ray’s excellent ‘ICIS Weekly Margin Report’, clearly shows the level of pain currently being suffered by naphtha-based cracker operators. Based on European pricing, it also demonstrates the great difference between today’s recession versus the ‘dip’ of 2002/3: • Margins based on contract prices fell to €151/t in January • They […]

BASF – the German oil and gas company

BASF’s reported results for 2008 show that its profits are increasingly coming from the oil and gas sector. Geographically, it is becoming similarly dependent on its German operations. Agricultural and performance products put in a strong performance during the year, with their combined EBIT rising €300m to €1.5bn. But the chemicals, plastics and functional businesses, […]

Asian exports collapse – Japan’s fall 46%

Japan’s exports fell 46% in January, after a 35% fall in December. Exports to the US fell 53%, and to China fell 45%. This makes it likely that Japan’s economy will shrink further, after the 3.3% decline in 2008. It could soon become the first G-7 economy to fall into depression – defined as a […]

Abu Dhabi snaps up Nova Chemicals

Nova’s CEO, Jeffrey Lipton, has always been the great optimist of the petrochemical industry. As recently as December, he was arguing at the GPCA meeting that “demand forecasts will prove to be too low”, and forecasting a shortage of ethylene and polyethylene in 2012. However, optimism isn’t a business strategy, particularly when it leads to […]

TOTAL warn on oil supplies

TOTAL’s CEO, Christophe de Margerie, has become even more pessimistic on the future of oil supplies. In 2007, when prices were rising, he suggested it would be very difficult for production to reach even 100mbd, versus the 130 mbd or more assumed by the IEA and the US government. Now, he is warning that the […]

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