Rising interest rates, volatile exchange rates, high oil prices and plastic waste challenge aromatics industry

Fears are rising about the risks of recession, as I discuss in a new one-page summary of the key issues facing the aromatics industry, ‘What does the future hold for Aromatics?‘.  Please click here to download it.

These issues will also be key topics at next month’s 17th World Aromatics and Derivatives Conference, jointly organised with ICIS, along with detailed coverage of the benzene and xylene value chains.

We have the usual strong line-up of speakers, and the Conference will also provide an excellent opportunity to exchange views with business partners and colleagues.  For further details and to book your place, please click here.

I hope to see you in Amsterdam next month.

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Russia’s chemical production continues to grow

Russia Feb12.pngRussia has been the great exception in regional chemical markets.

Normally, production growth starts at a high level, often 15% a year or more, and then slows as markets become more mature. But in Russia, output collapsed with the Berlin Wall after 1989, and growth was actually negative until the mid-2000s.

Since then, there has been a strong recovery. This makes sense from a feedstock perspective, as Russia was the world’s largest oil producer in 2009-10 (as Saudi operated OPEC quotas). Oil is now setting new post-Soviet records at 10.3mbd, with gas output also increasing.

As always, the blog is grateful to Sergei Blagov of ICIS news for the data in the above chart, and further insight into some key areas:

• Production growth slowed during 2011 from 2010’s very high levels
• Fertiliser output (blue line) grew 5% to 19m tonnes
• Polymers output ( red) grew 9% to 5m tonnes
• Synthetic rubber output (green) was up 5% at 1.4m tonnes

These were still strong rates by historical standards. Polypropylene was particularly robust, up 12% at 722KT: polyethylene was up 8% at 1.65MT; polystyrene was up 14% at 348KT; and PVC was up 6% at 636KT.