Middle East Revolts and Chemicals Part II

Here’s an interesting statistic, traffic through the Suez Canal increased in January 2011 versus the same month in 2010. Some 1,485 vessels passed through the canal in January 2010, versus 1,418 the year before. Tonnage increased from 66,440 in 2010 to 75,501. However, this might not be all that telling. The protests began on January 25. So the statistics only cover the first, and least intense, week of the uprising. The Suez Canal Authority hasn’t yet come out with statistics for February, which would be more instructive. (BTW, the Suez Canal Authority keeps annual statistics on the kinds of cargo passing through the canal, including chemicals.) Also, the image was taken from marinetraffic.com, where you can track traffic headed to and from the canal on the Mediterranean, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Looks like the transponders are off during the passage itself. There is another consequence of the unrest of the Middle East that I overlooked in the last post. That of BASF. Melody Voith, who is writing about BASF’s earnings for the next issue of C&EN, points out that analysts were quite interested in the Libyan operations of BASF’s Wintershall oil and gas unit. Wintershall shuttered production in Libya last week. The German military airlifted 21 German employees out of the country, leaving 368 local staff to, in a very close to literal sense, mind the fort. According Goldman Sachs analyst Richard Logan, the operations produce about 100,000 barrels per day. However, despite those high numbers, he and BASF don’t see a substantial impact to BASF earnings. A high, 93%, tax rate and the Gazprom minority stake in the operations whittle €1.3 billion in EBIT down to only €70 million in net income. “With respect to Libya,” chairman Jürgen Hambrecht said in a press release “BASF hopes that the situation will calm down soon.” Good luck with that.

Author: Alex Tullo

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