ADVERTISEMENT
2 /3 FREE ARTICLES LEFT THIS MONTH Remaining
Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.

If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.

ENJOY UNLIMITED ACCES TO C&EN

Business

A Tough Year

The year brought many setbacks for chemical firms, especially in Europe, but U.S. shale was a big positive for chemical makers

by Alexander H. Tullo , Marc S. Reisch
December 24, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 52

[+]Enlarge
Credit: Dow Chemical
Dow Chemical is restarting an ethylene cracker in St. Charles, La., to take advantage of low costs for shale-based feedstocks.
09052-cover3-openercxd.jpg
Credit: Dow Chemical
Dow Chemical is restarting an ethylene cracker in St. Charles, La., to take advantage of low costs for shale-based feedstocks.

In 2012, chemical executives had to deal with another economic slump while the Great Recession was still fresh in their memories. In Europe, the sovereign debt crisis precipitated a return to recession. And chemical makers cut costs and shuttered manufacturing capacity in that region and elsewhere to maintain ­profitability.

SLIPPING
[+]Enlarge
The U.S. chemical companies tracked by C&EN started to see sales and earnings decline in 2012.
09052-cover3-bgraphs.jpg
The U.S. chemical companies tracked by C&EN started to see sales and earnings decline in 2012.

The U.S. remained a bright spot for the global chemical industry because of low-cost shale-based raw materials. Although the prospect of stricter regulation, driven by environmental concerns, hovers over the shale gas business, petrochemical companies were confident enough that shale gas will keep flowing that they invested billions of dollars in new plants based on it. Chemical firms, however, were more cautious about mergers and acquisitions; deal-making moved at a slow pace in 2012, and few multi-billion-dollar trans­actions were announced during the year.

Overall, fine and custom chemical makers had a good year. However, explosions—with lives lost—compromised supplies of specialties such as a nylon raw material and superabsorbent polymers. In the crowded cleantech field, some firms such as battery maker A123 Systems failed outright while others formed partnerships to increase their chances of survival.

Intellectual property disputes clogged court systems throughout the year as competitors argued over technology ownership. And quarrels over raw material resources and the selling of chemicals below cost went international.

X

Article:

This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment