Article | June 27, 2021
SEE THE END section of this blog post for a dystopian version of our environmental future. In a follow-up post – which I will publish on Thursday, 1 July – I will offer some suggestions about how we can avoid an outcome that nobody of course wants.Both posts are meant to be provocative, challenging and controversial because only through debate, and sometimes outright argument, will we get to the answers.
If you disagree after either or both posts have been published, great, that would be good. In fact, I would love to hear from you whatever your views at email@example.com. The petrochemicals industry can do this; we can fix this if we create the right forums for ideas and then solutions.
Let me provide the background first. Let me start by examining developments in the refinery industry and the implications for petrochemicals as important background. Then I will look at a sample of ICIS petrochemicals demand growth forecasts for 2020-2040. I will conclude by providing the bleakest of bleak outcomes for the world in 2025
Article | May 13, 2021
NICE WORK, if you get can get it. A trucking company in Fort Worth, Texas, is offering to pay experienced drivers $14,000 a week – $728,000 a year – as the US struggles with a nationwide shortage of truckers or lorry drivers.
This reminds me of perhaps an apocryphal tale, from the height of the last Australian mining boom. Before iron ore prices collapsed in late 2014, there was a story about workers at mining site road junctions who operated manual “Stop and Go” signs. They were said to be earning more than Australian dollar (A$) 200,000 a year.
Before you pack in your job as, say, a petrochemicals sales manager and head to Texas or mine sites in Western Australia, there is the risk that when you arrive at the door of your new prospective employer, the bubble might have already burst. This is assuming we are in bubble conditions.The pressure is clearly building in petrochemicals and other commodity markets as prices in some regions remain at record highs or continue to rise.
Today’s prices are the results of shortages of commodities supply (for example in petrochemicals, an outcome of the US winter storms), very strong demand and supply chain disruptions.I am beginning to believe that the latter is the biggest reason for commodity price inflation which is feeding through into sharp rises in the cost of finished goods – and a lack of goods availability.
It is delivering and manufacturing enough stuff that seems to be at the heart of today’s problems due to shortages of everything from container freight space and semiconductors to wooden pallets, tin cans, metal drums, cardboard – and US truck drivers.
Article | February 14, 2020
Companies operating in the European Union (EU) must submit data when introducing articles containing Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) above the 0.1 percent weight by weight (w/w) threshold. The reporting trigger for an in-scope article is currently derived from the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation’s Candidate List of SVHCs, but the data requirements for the SCIP database, triggered by the EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD), vary widely from those required by the REACH Regulation.
Article | July 13, 2021
BEFORE the pandemic, GDP growth rates in the developing world were always higher than in developed economies.And because developing economies had much lower levels of petrochemicals consumption than their rich counterparts, it meant that the multiples over GDP were higher than in the rich word, where consumption was pretty much saturated.
For instance, polyethylene (PE) demand in a developed country such as Germany might have grown at 0.3% times GDP whereas in Indonesia the growth could have been one or more times higher than the rate of growth in GDP.But as The Economist wrote in this 11 July article: “In 2021 the poorest countries, which are desperately short of vaccines, are forecast to grow more slowly than rich countries for only the third time in 25 years.”
Might the multiples over GDP growth also be adversely affected in the developing world, trending lower than the historic norms?
They will almost certainly remain higher than the rich countries. But here is the thing: as millions more people are pushed back into extreme poverty by the pandemic or are denied the opportunity to achieve middle-income status, I believe that developing-world multiples may well decline.Escaping extreme poverty means being able to, say, afford a whole bottle of shampoo for the first time rather than a single-serve sachet, thereby raising per capita polymers consumption.