| March 6, 2019

article image
The year 2019 has been assigned by UNESCO as the Year of the Periodic Table of the Elements. This, and the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table, can finally be celebrated in the company of no less than 118 elements, all earlier vacancies in the system having been filled. Some reflections on the naming of elements are certainly in order.Roughly speaking, three groups of chemical elements can be distinguished. There are the ’old’ elements, such as gold, silver, copper, tin, and iron which have been known and used since prehistoric times. Then there are the ’newer’ elements which were discovered by chemists while chemistry was still a young and struggling science. Finally, the discovery of the ’newest’ elements took place in an environment characterized by its solid foundation on mature science, and by and large global conventions for the naming of new elements.


Suzhou Indus Petrochemical Company

Suzhou Indus Petrochemical Company (SIPCO) based in Suzhou, Jiangsu is the local arm of a global petrochemical distribution giant.


Southeast polyolefins demand growth could be negative again in 2021

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.

Read More

Pandemic’s third wave seems unlikely to damage global petrochemicals demand

Article | July 22, 2021

Petrochemical stocks plunged worldwide on 19 July ahead of the Q2 earnings season. The declines were consistent with those in economically sensitive sectors such as steel, copper, automotive and housing,” wrote my ICIS colleague, Joseph Chang, in this Insight article.

Read More

Reimagining the Workforce with Anglo American

Article | June 21, 2021

“At Anglo-American, we’re really focused on finding the best ways to attract the most talented people in the industry and effectively equipping our existing workforce based on what they need today and what the future will mean for their careers. We’re also committed to providing learning opportunities that lead to growth and development in the communities in which we operate. Our people are a strategic advantage. We want to ensure that continues to be the case as the mining industry evolves and faces more disruption.

Read More

Energy portfolio restructuring: Charting the future

Article | June 17, 2021

Consumer needs and preferences in the energy industry are evolving. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns are becoming more acute—inspiring action and shifting value towards low-carbon solutions. These trends accelerated in 2020 and for the first time, market capitalization of leading low-carbon solutions companies began to overtake those of oil and gas (O&G) majors. This is despite the majors laying out energy transition strategies, setting low carbon energy targets and generating higher revenues by an order of magnitude.1 In response to this radically changing landscape, energy companies are charting divergent courses for their futures. Some continue to bet on their ability to generate returns from the O&G value chain. They are focusing on growing margins and lowering carbon intensity. Others are supplementing their capabilities with low-carbon energy solutions or exiting hydrocarbons altogether. This blog focuses on the path forward for the energy majors in Europe who are betting big on diversification.

Read More