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Reflections of Fort Worth

The biennial Carbon Black World convention was held last week in Fort Worth, Texas. The conference was hosted by Sid Richardson Carbon and Oil and organized by Smithers Rapra. For the first time ever, the carbon black conference was co-located with the Traction conference, which focuses on the tire industry, and after an opening session, attendees could choose between two programs of talks occurring simultaneously. Betsy Price, the gracious mayor of Fort Worth, opened the conference and gave a warm welcome to the city, which bills itself (accurately, I think) as a big city with a small town feel. The well organized and comprehensive program of talks was augmented with a visit from the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, great barbecue, and a golf outing. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of attendees from China, India, and Russia, surely a sign that the carbon black industry continues to globalize. Ricky Magee of Birla Carbon did yoeman’s work by chairing the entire conference, and doing a great job at that. Thanks too go out to all of the conference organizers and sponsors, with a special debt of gratitude to Bill Jones and the crew at Sid Richardson, who really made the Fort Worth conference one of the most welcoming I can recall.

The carbon black industry is coming off of an unusual year in 2015. Global volumes were up slightly (~1%), but market value fell 20% due to declining oil prices. Among the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), only India saw positive growth in 2015, while China’s carbon black volumes were flat and both Russia and South America saw significant declines. On the other hand, both North America and the European Union saw good growth in volumes (~3.0% to 3.5%). Despite the solid volume growth, suppliers in both North America and the EU remain under pressure due to an influx of lower cost imports from China and Russia, which have impacted prices and lowered utilization rates. Looking forward, we have entered an era from 2015 to 2020 where both North America and the EU will see greater investment in new tire production capacity than China, a situation unthinkable only a few years ago. The future will be interesting indeed.

Speaking of the future, Notch Consulting will publish the new edition of the Carbon Black World Data Book in June 2016. This is our annual report of the state of the global carbon black industry, and the subscription includes quarterly supply/demand updates through April 2017 as well as monthly carbon black pricing for the US, EU, Brazil, and China. For more information, write to us at info @

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