Notch Consulting has updated the Carbon Black World Data Book 2008 to reflect several recent restructuring announcements, most prominently Cabot Corporation’s decision to close two of its European carbon black plants and idle capacity in Canada and Indonesia. Cabot Corp. made the announcement on January 29. The carbon black report’s capacity and production forecasts have been revised to reflect the restructuring, which Cabot announced would remove 250 to 300 KT of capacity.
Even before the Cabot announcement, it was clear that the carbon black industry was in the midst of a profound restructuring, one that has already led to seven major plant closure announcements in 2008/2009. Unlike prior downturns, the pain is by no means isolated to a single region or group of countries but is truly global in scope. Chinese carbon black suppliers, for instance, are facing their first protracted downturn after more than 25 years of rapid, nearly uninterrupted growth. But the current restructuring goes beyond plant closures and cost-cutting measures. The rapidly escalating oil prices that characterized the first seven months of 2008 forced carbon black suppliers to evaluate the fundamental structure of their traditional supply contracts as they sought to better insulate their bottom lines from the vissitudes of a volatile oil market. At the same time, increased energy costs have prompted more carbon black suppliers to invest in energy-saving plant upgrades (such as higher-rated air and feedstock preheaters), as well as cogen units utilizing tailgas that was previously vented.
The Carbon Black World Data Book 2008 provides a detailed overview of the industry’s current conditions, as well as forecasts for short term recovery and long term growth. Here is an overview of the report, along with the full table of contents. For more information, write to Notch Consulting at info AT notchconsulting.com or visit Notch’s website here.