chloralkali

Demographic changes hit US chlorine and caustic soda demand

Its not all fun being part of the US millennial generation (those born between 1980 – 2000).  They number 80 million, about the same as the BabyBoomer generation.  But as the New York Times notes: “The millennial generation has less wealth and more debt than other generations did at the same age, thanks to student […]

45-year shortage of babies hits Europe’s chlorine/PVC demand

Companies and investors often say “we don’t need to think about demographics – its too far in the future to matter”. This might have been true 20 years ago, but not today.  As European chlorine industry demand confirms, the truth is that “history catches up with us”. The reason is simple.  Europe stopped having enough […]

US PVC exports tumble as demand weakens in key markets

The US PVC industry is hitting new problems, to add to the post-2006 collapse of the US housing market. Yet only 10 years ago, it was riding high.  Demand into housing (the main outlet) was at record levels thanks to subprime lending, and PVC production had just hit a record 7.3 million tonnes. Even after the financial Crisis, global […]

US fracking demand creates price volatility for hydrochloric acid

Fracking has completely changed the outlook for US natural gas supplies, as the above chart from the latest Energy Information Agency 2014 annual report shows: It forecasts a 56% increase in total natural gas production from 2012 to 2040 This is largely due to growth in shale gas (green) and tight gas (brown) Shale gas output […]

European chloralkali output hit as growth slows, Ukraine volumes drop

Chlorine and caustic soda are the bedrock of modern industry.  They are used in everything from laundry products to pharmaceuticals.  So changes in their business performance are a most valuable guide to what is happening in the real world in which we all live. The chart shows the detail of developments in the European industry, […]

US caustic soda exports weaken on China slowdown

What a difference 2 years can make.  That’s the obvious conclusion from comparing US exports of caustic soda today, with those seen in the years to 2012.  As the chart, based on Global Trade Information Services data shows: Net US exports fell 4% in Q1 (red column) versus 2012 (blue), and were 19% below 2013 levels Detailed […]

Caustic soda inventories rise as aluminium cutbacks begin

An accident waiting to happen is perhaps the best way to describe aluminium markets – the key swing outlet for caustic soda.  Caustic soda is normally a late cycle product, with sales then focused on the mining industry.  Industry leader Alcoa’s results confirm the disappointing trend.  It lost money in Q1, whilst revenue fell 8% due to a decline […]

Aluminium shortage “temporary and artificial” says world’s largest buyer

When was the last time you told your customers that they would have to wait 570 days for delivery of material for which they have already paid? You’ve never done this?  Well, you need to take lessons from those super-smart people who own the aluminium warehouses, such as Goldman Sachs (pictured above by Reuters).  As the blog […]

EU, US caustic soda output slows as China’s exports rise

Chlorine and caustic soda are some of the most widely used chemicals.  Thus their performance is always a valuable leading indicator for the wider chemical industry and the economy itself.  So the chart above, based on Eurochlor data,  is a worrying sign: Chlorine production is down by 1.9% in 2013, after a 2.9% fall in 2012 Caustic […]

Chloralkali output suggests EU and US recoveries still to appear

Chlorine and caustic soda markets rarely lie about the underlying state of demand.  The reason is not just because they have been widely used for over 125 years.  But the production process is also relatively flexible, and can be adjusted within minutes to align with supply/demand changes. So the picture in the chart above of falling chlorine production […]

Chloralkali operating rates confirm European slowdown

Operating rates in European chloralkali markets are confirming the general slowdown in demand across the continent. Total chlorine production was already down 1.9% in 2012, with H2 operating rates averaging just 75.7%. And sadly, March data from Euro…

Chlorine, caustic soda, suggest 2013 demand remains slow

The blog tips its hat today to the International Energy Agency, whose oil research director, Antoine Halff, confirmed its own long-held view that the “recent run-up in prices will rekindle questions about the interplay of financial and fundamental fact…

EU chloralkali markets weaken in H2

Chlorine and caustic soda production are a key indicator of economic growth. They have been produced in large volumes for over a century, and have a extremely wide range of uses from pharmaceutical and aluminium production to detergents and disinfecti…

EU chloralkali output slows as markets weaken

Chloralkali production is an excellent indicator of market direction in the short-term. Unlike petrochemicals, cellrooms can quickly reduce or increase operating rates. This is essential for efficient operation, as the price for electricity can chang…

EU faces US competition in PVC export markets

The blog continues this week’s special series on chloralkali and PVC markets by looking at EU developments on PVC.

Historically the EU has had strong export positions into markets such as Turkey and Russia, which lack major local production. More rec…

Shale gas supports US PVC exports

Yesterday the blog discussed caustic soda, and the recent importance of China’s metal demand. Today it focuses on chlorine and PVC.

PVC is the largest end-use for chlorine. It is also critical for chloralkali producers when caustic demand is strong,…

China’s downturn slows caustic soda markets

As promised yesterday, the blog is running a special series of posts this week focused on chloralkali and PVC markets.

Caustic soda is a key indicator for the global economy. This is because it is used in a wide variety of basic industries, including…