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Petchem Downturn Looms on the Horizon

9:19 AM MST | November 24, 2008 | Robert Westervelt with Lindsey Bewley

The timing of the latest wave of Mideast capacity could be better. Global petrochemical demand is tumbling, dragging pricing and margins with it, just as Mideast producers are set to increase ethylene capacity by nearly 12 million m.t./year in 2008-09, a supply boost of roughly 10%. Chemical makers, including BASF and Dow Chemical, reported sharp demand declines in October, 20% or more in some cases. The combination of sharply weaker global economic growth and a collapse in oil, energy, and feedstock prices has moved petchem buyers to the sidelines. BASF...

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