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Breakthroughs that will shape the future of the petrol-based chemicals industry

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Global Petrochemical Industry Analysis


The petrochemical industry (a segment of the global chemicals business) has entered a transition phase, with a large degree of expansion forecast between 2012 and 2022, reports Visiongain. Competition from Middle Eastern market players is also expected to fuel this change, particularly when coupled with the impact of the Eurozone crisis. Before the end of 2012, the industry was expected to exceed $609 billion.


Concern over environmental issues, with sustainability in particular a matter of concern, the petrochemical market is meeting resistance in developing countries. In developed countries, however, sustainability constitutes less of an obstacle to market expansion.



Key Segments


The world polyester market is forecast to maintain a strong growth rate over coming year, according to research from Koncept Analytics. The polyester filament yarn segment has dominated the market in recent years. PET consumption in developed markets such as North America and Western Europe remains higher than in emerging market like Korea and China. The latter produced more polyester than any other country in 2010, partly due to urban per-capita spending on clothing.


The global ethylene oxide (EO) market is expected to exceed 27 million tons by 2017, according to Global Industry Analysts. Market expansion is fuelled by rising consumption in Asia and the Middle East. End-use segments such as ethanolamines, surfactants and mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) continue to fuel demand. Global EO demand is forecast to rise at a yearly rate of between 3% and 4% from 2012 to 2017. EO producers will likely concentrate their efforts on EO derivates as overcapacity continues to pressure MEG margins. Having dipped prior to 2010, the EO market witnessed some degree of recovery in 2010. Most of this growth came from MEG and surfactants markets. Demand recovery is, however, not expected to go beyond previous level highs prior to the downturn. Increased demand from end-use industries will continue to expand the EO market in the future.



Regional Market Share


India accounted for around 4% of demand in the Asia-Pacific methanol market in 2011, reports Taiyou Research. The pharmaceutical sector is an important methanol end-use market, superseded by the end use of formaldehyde-based resins. The latter is forecast to record strong growth through 2021, driven by demand from the flexible packaging industry. Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers Company is one of the leading players in India’s methanol market. Assam Petrochemicals, Deepak Fertilizers and GNVFC all use technology from ICI in the production of methanol. National Fertilizers and Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers use Haldor Topsoe technology.


The US is the only dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) producer in North America, reports Taiyou Research, housing all DMT plants in that region. US DMT producers rely on INVISTA DMT technology to manufacture DMT. The Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) sector is the main consumer of DMT produced in North America, accounting for more than 95% of overall DMT demand in the US in 2011. The remaining DMT demand of less than 5% was from other sectors. DMT is used in the manufacturing of polyester and industrial plastics. It provides the basis for many products, including X-ray and video films, polyester fibers, and electrical capacitors. It is also present in a large number of automotive components such as bumpers, hubcaps, reinforcing beams, electrical systems and windshield wiper blades. DMT is also a component of adhesives, ink and paints as well as an intermediate of herbicides.



Market Outlook


Petrochemical development between until 2022 will depend in large part on emerging economies. These markets will witness a steep rise in value, causing suppliers to focus their efforts on developing economies instead of developed economies, reports Visiongain.


Meanwhile, in more mature markets, innovation will prove a key point between competitors seeking to maintain and increase market share in these regions. Innovation will mostly be focused on cutting costs and boosting efficiency.


Competition in Asia’s petrochemical market will increase throughout 2012 as slow economic growth in developed countries sees product flow shift toward developing regions. Growth in China will be particularly strong over the coming years due to the country’s economic growth. Petrochemical demand in China is likely to outpace supply, opening up growth potential for multinationals. Companies are expected to adapt their strategies to redirect their efforts toward Asia-Pacific, and China in particular, to offset declines in North America and the EU, where chemical company margins continue to tighten.



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