Economy July Update: Capital Investments, CEPCI & Latin America

An American Chemistry Council report said that the U.S. chemical industry’s capital investments increased 64% from 2010 to 2014, and they will probably increase 37% by 2018 to reach $45.8 billion. ACC Chief Economist Kevin Swift said that the American chemical industry is bringing in an increasing share of global chemical investment. Meanwhile, approximately 61% of new chemical investments in the U.S. are from outside the country.

Swift also said that the American chemical industry is highly competitive and is anticipated to grow more quickly than the GDP. Approximately $142 billion has been invested in 231 shale-related projects in the U.S., according to Swift. Celanese Chairman and CEO Mark Rohr added that demand growth for petrochemicals is expected to come largely from overseas sources.

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum witnessed several production, refining, and production agreements signed by Rosneft (Moscow) and BP, which owns 19.75% of Rosneft. Igor Sechin, Rosneft chairman and David Campbell, president of BP Russia, signed the documents. As part of the agreements, BP will have sole ownership of the Gelsenkirchen refinery in Germany, which includes two ethylene plants with combined capacity of 1 million m.t./year.

Univar closed a $770-million IPO with their first day of trading at $25.40, up 15% from the initial IPO. The shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol UNVR.

The continued trend of small monthly declines since the beginning of the year marked the preliminary value for the April 2015 CE Plant Cost Index (CEPCI; the most recent available). The CEPCI for April is 1.8% lower than the corresponding value from the same time a year ago. The preliminary value for the Equipment subindex in April decreased for the second consecutive month while the Construction Labor subindex was higher. The Buildings subindex for April saw a very small decline while the Engineering & Supervision subindex was also slightly higher. The May 2015 CPI value of output remains below the corresponding value from 2014, while the latest Current Business Indicators numbers were generally similar to the previous month’s values.

Dr. Marvin L. Baker of High Technology Associates presided over speakers from the U.S. and Germany as they presented at the Houston Business Forum. The event focused on the Houston petrochemicals industry and considerations for European companies seeking to establish a U.S. presence.

Although the American recycling business was once profitable for cities and private employers, in recent years it has been stalling and has become a money-sucking enterprise. Although the District of Columbia, Baltimore, and many counties in between have annually contributed millions to support one of the nation’s busiest facilities in Elkridge, MD, it is still losing money. It is an accepted fact that nearly every facility like it in the entire country is running in negative figures. Sadly, Waste Management and other recyclers say that over 2,000 municipalities are paying to dispose of their recyclables instead of the other way around.

According to Commerce Department figured issued by Washington, gross domestic product shrank at a 0.7 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, revised from a previously reported 0.2 percent gain. The reading is the weakest since adverse winter weather quashed growth at the beginning of 2014.

Michael Gapen, New York-based chief U.S, economist for Barclays Plc. said, “The economy slowed in the first quarter, but we’ll see an acceleration in the second. He went on to say, “It keeps the Fed in line for a rate hike in September.

Economic outlook for Latin America — grim. New leadership is coming into power in Latin America, and the free market is in serious decline as the hard left showed unexpected gains. Any prospects Columbians had for enjoying even modest prosperity have been severely hampered by a new wealth tax. The Venezuelan economy is on a downward spiral into chaos and Brazil is struggling hard to deal with a worsening recession, while the Argentinian economy continues to shrink.

Executives from industry groups gathered at an event concurred that ending restrictions on natural gas exports would bring more jobs, pipelines and prosperity to Pennsylvania and help U.S. allies in Europe realize relief from their dependence on Russia. Gas exports alone would add as much as $10 million in income and create 60,000 jobs by 2035, American Petroleum Institute Upstream and Industry Operations Director Erik Milito said. He went on to say that exporting gas to allies is a national security issue as Russian President Vladimir Putin “has his finger on the lever of gas supplies.”