refining

US ethylene prices near all-time lows as over-capacity arrives

US ethylene spot prices are tumbling as the major new shale gas expansions come on line, as the chart based on ICIS pricing data confirms: They began the year at $617/t, but have since more than halved to $270/t on Friday They are only around 10% higher than their all-time low of $240/t in September […]

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Hurricane Harvey: lack of insurance will hit Houston’s recovery

“By Monday, the third straight day of flooding, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey had left much of the region underwater, and the city of Houston looked like a sea dotted by small islands.  ’This event is unprecedented,’ the National Weather Service tweeted. ‘All impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced.’” This summary from the New […]

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Saudi lets ‘market decide’ on oil prices to maximise local jobs

I was kindly invited last week to give a keynote address at the annual ME-TECH conference in Dubai.  Naturally, there was intense interest in my argument that oil prices were most unlikely to recover to the $100/bbl level. Instead, I suggested they would likely return to their long-term historical average of $33/bbl (in $2014).  And I argued that this would be good news […]

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Shell CEO says Europe needs to leverage chemicals clusters

There are 2 ways to improve operating rates in an industry.  One is to increase volumes, the other is to reduce capacity.   The latest APPE data covering H1 2014 for European olefin capacity highlights how the European petrochemical industry has successfully used both mechanisms over the past year to improve its position: Ethylene volume increased to 9.8MT, versus […]

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ExxonMobil Antwerp to spend $1bn boosting diesel capacity

When the world changes, companies either change with it or go out of business.  The market for stagecoaches was never the same once cars came along.  And not many students use slide rules today, now calculators are available. Usually, of course, these market changes are slow-moving.  So companies often fail to respond in the hope the old world […]

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Recovery has been delayed, again

Recovery has been delayed, again.  That is the clear message from the blog’s extensive discussions with key executives in global and regional markets over the past 2 weeks. In summary as this ICIS video interview suggests, the picture is as follows: Base chemical demand has broadly fallen from peak levels in Q3  Most chemical buyers built inventory in […]

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