Oil Rig


The end of the first week of the New Year is fraught with anxiety and anticipation, with everyone thinking—What next?

New York City is in the news with its ban on polystyrene foam food containers; the GOP is eager to pounce on the current administration’s environmental rules; and Venezuela’s most famous ice cream parlor, Coromoto, closed during its busiest season because of a milk shortage. Nonetheless, all news from the Mideast Wars to the alarming evidence of global climate change takes a back seat to the most consistent headline of the past two months: Oil Prices Continue to Plummet, and that definitely affects the chemical industry, particularly petrochemicals and plasticizers.

Like free ice cream, there is a good side and a bad side to plummeting oil prices—too much can make you sick.

See how $50 oil changes almost everything. The U.S. exported the most oil since 1920, and manufacturers delay ordering raw materials as they anticipate further reduced costs as oil prices continue to fall. Cheap oil stimulates the marketplace and greater consumption, which will negatively affect carbon footprint and emissions control ambitions. As the economy prospers, the environment suffers. Read on and learn more.


Inhofe Plans GOP Strategy Around the CRA
A Timothy Cama article in The Hill says that Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, told reporters that the Congressional Review Act (CRA) will be the weapon of choice for the GOP in their planned assault against a wide range of the Obama administration’s environmental rules, bringing much needed relief to many sectors of the chemical industry.

The CRA allows an expedited route for Congress to vote to overturn regulations, including those from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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NYC Bans Polystyrene Containers
A local CBS article on the AP wire reports that New York City will begin banning the use of plastic foam containers by food establishments starting July 1 of this year.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration said there will be a grace period without fines until January, 2016.

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Huntsman Makes Statement Regarding Impact of Lower Priced Oil
President and CEO, Peter R. Huntsman of the Huntsman Corporation, a giant in the petrochemical industry, made an optimistic statement in a press release about the benefits to business from lower priced oil.

“In an environment where oil prices are sustainably low, Huntsman Corporation will emphatically be a beneficiary over the long term. Many of our raw materials are derived from the oil refining process . . . I expect our business to improve throughout 2015.”

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Customers Delay Orders Due to Falling Crude Prices
According to a recent ICIS article, customers of US-based A. Schulman of Houston, Texas delayed orders in the latter half of November because of plummeting oil prices, which led them to expect that their raw-material costs would soon follow, said Bernard Rzepka, CEO.

“The market is coming back,” Rzepka said. “So far, the decline in oil is beginning to erode the price of polyolefins such as polypropylebe (PP).”

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$50 Oil Changes Almost Everything
Isaac Arnsdorf and Simon Kennedy explain how in a Bloomberg article addressing the global effects of recently plunging oil prices.

Coromoto, an ice cream parlor in Merida, Venezuela, famous for its 900 flavors, closed during its busiest season in November because of a milk shortage caused by the country’s 64 percent inflation rate, the world’s fastest.

That’s the plight of an oil-producing nation. At the same time, consuming countries like the U.S. are taking advantage. Trucks, which burn more gasoline, outsold cars in December by the most since 2005, according to data from Ward’s Automotive Group.

The biggest collapse in energy prices since the 2008 global recession is shifting wealth and power from autocratic petro-states to industrialized consumers. According to a Berenberg Bank AG report, this could make the world safer.

The surging U.S. shale supply, weakening Asian and European demand and a stronger American dollar are pushing oil to a five-and-a-half year low, with a dip below $40 a barrel “not out of the question,” according to Rob Haworth, a Seattle-based senior investment strategist at the U.S. Bank Wealth Management, which oversees about $120 billion.

Full Story

Oil Plunge Erodes Emissions and Carbon Footprint Ambitions
A Bloomberg article by Mathew Carr said that while the falling price of crude oil is giving consumers cheaper energy, it’s threatening long-term global pollution-control efforts.

Full Story


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