Petrochemicals: An In-Depth Introduction

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Global developments such as the fall in crude oil prices, the changes in China and capacity build in the US will have an impact on future supply and demand as well as profitability of the petrochemicals business. This two-day course explores key petrochemical markets, providing an in-depth introduction to petrochemicals pricing, trade flows and regional dynamics, and insights into how recent events have altered the competitive landscape.

In doing so, the course is designed to answer delegates’ burning questions, such as the correlation between petrochemicals and oil, the impact of Chinese developments globally, and the outlook for petrochemical markets in the coming months and years.

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Agenda Day 1

Registration and Refreshments

Petrochemicals introduced

  • History of petrochemicals
  • Terminology explained
  • Steam cracking to make the building blocks


Olefins and derivatives

  • Ethylene, propylene and butadiene
  • Main value chains and end-uses
  • Olefin chain exercise



Aromatics and derivatives

  • Benzene, toluene, orthoxylene and paraxylene
  • Primary and secondary sources of aromatics
  • Main value chains and end-uses
  • Aromatics chain exercise



Petrochemicals – a changed world

  • Petrochemicals are a global business: Who are the leaders? What are their roles?
  • Industry trends; growth prospects
  • Trade flows and shifting regional influences


Examining oil and its relationship with petrochemicals

  • Oil-petrochemicals interface; challenges facing refiners
  • Where petrochemicals are produced in refineries
  • Production, consumption and reserves



Chemicals from coal

  • Historical role of coal
  • China’s coal to chemicals; acetyls from coal
  • Environmental concerns




Agenda Day 2


An introduction to natural gas, methanol and ammonia

  • Types of natural gas: NGLs, LPGs and condensates
  • Shale gas and its growing influence
  • Methanol and ammonia from natural gas


Introduction to the chlor-alkali and vinyls chains

  • Salt to chlorine and caustic soda
  • Chlorine and caustic markets; PVC uses and markets
  • Balancing the ECU



Introduction to petrochemical pricing

  • The role of pricing – processes and challenges
  • A practical look to how prices are set
  • The regional influences



Future trends

  • Overview of global investment conditions
  • Europe, the US, the Middle East and Asia
  • The major companies and their strategies


Break-out sessions


Break-out presentations

Course wrap-up

End of seminar

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John Richardson – Consultant, ICIS Asia

John Richardson is a highly experienced trainer and chemicals industry analyst, who has been working in the industry for 18 years. Based in Asia-Pacific, John has a deep knowledge of the companies and people who have transformed the region into the world’s major production and consumption region. His aim is to provide insightful, factually-based analysis of the key issues facing the industry. His views are highly valued by senior executives, who appreciate his balanced and independent approach.

From 2006 until 2013, John was the Director for ICIS Training, where he successfully launched the business in the region, providing a wide range of courses covering petrochemicals, oil refining, fertilizers and base oils. He now works for the ICIS Consulting team. John has also co-authored an e-book, Boom, Gloom and the New Normal, with Paul Hodges of United Kingdom-based consultancy, International eChem. The book, which has been published by ICIS, examines how demographic factors and events in financial markets have reshaped the global economy. His Asian Chemical Connections blog has a wide regional and global readership.

Nigel Davis – Course Director, ICIS

Nigel has been part of the ICIS training team since its inception. A chemist by training, Nigel is an Insight editor with ICIS and contributes regularly to the 24-hour online chemicals news service.

Nigel has written about the chemical industry in many publications since 1979, including news and company magazines, encyclopaedias and specialist reports. For 13 years he wrote and edited the newsletter Chemical Insight. He presents regularly at conferences and training events and has widely shared his understanding of the sector.

Nigel is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and through the RSA takes a general interest in industry and business matters.

Paul Cherry – Consultant, Officium Projects

Paul has 20 years’ experience in the petrochemical industry working for Lyondell Basell and its predecessor companies, Basell, Montell and Shell Chemicals.

From 2002 to 2010 he was based in Hong Kong and was responsible for supply chain and procurement activities in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent. After leaving Lyondell Basell, Paul has been working with Officium Projects, a company offering consulting and engineering services to the petrochemical industry as well as the ICIS training business.

Paul has a Bachelor of Applied Science degree and Doctorate of Philosophy majoring in polymer science both from the University of Melbourne.

Why attend this course?

  • An essential introduction for newcomers to the petrochemical industry
  • Expert insights for those seeking to better understand the industry
  • Understand the impact of recent events on you and your business
  • An outlook for the future of petrochemicals, feedstocks, and derivatives
  • Explore pricing, industry trends, and factors driving the market
  • Gain an understanding of regional dynamics, and their impact globally

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Testimonials from past delegates of this course

“Very complete course in general, professionally organised and presented. Lecturers are carefully selected, packed with practical and theoretical information appropriate to trainee needs”.

Directorate of Logistics & Supply, Petroleum Industry of Serbia

Course Fees

If you require fees information, please contact us via

In-House Training

ICIS works alongside our clients to create bespoke training courses that mould our expertise and your specific needs. We’ll pinpoint the current expertise of your employees, areas for improvement, and your business goals, and develop a training course that will bring tangible benefits to your business.

Our custom training courses are delivered as interactive workshops, focusing on the products, concepts and issues that are most relevant and beneficial to you.

  • Save money on transportation and accommodation, with training at a convenient location
  • Flexibility – you determine the length and duration of the sessions
  • Interactive workshops with hands-on exercises, to reinforce key skills, techniques and concepts
  • Take-away the course materials, presentations and background information for future reference

To enquire about in-house training for this course please click here and a member of our team will get back to you.

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Upcoming Petrochemicals: An In-Depth Introduction courses



Fundamentals of the Polymers Business – 19-20 September, Houston

September 19 @ 8:00 amSeptember 20 @ 5:00 pm



Fundamentals of the Polymers Business – 26-27 September, Madrid, Spain

September 26 @ 8:30 amSeptember 27 @ 5:00 pm

Petrochemicals Training Courses