18-Jul-2014 - GlobalData

Global polyethylene demand to rise by approximately 3.7% annually between 2013 and 2018

‘Capacity additions will be most prevalent in the US, given its advantaged cost competitive position,’ says analyst

Global polyethylene demand is forecast to rise by approximately 3.7% per annum between 2013 and 2018, at a slightly higher level than its growth during the 2003 to 2013 period, says a new report from research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The company’s latest report "Global Polyethylene Industry – Emerging Markets in Asia-Pacific to Drive Modest Growth" states that this higher-than-historic increase will occur in the US and Europe, primarily in Russia. The US will witness a 2.4% growth rate per annum during the forecast period, in comparison to its 0.7% levels from 2003 to 2013. Meanwhile, demand in Europe, including Russia, will climb at 2.8% per year from 2013 to 2018, almost three times the level witnessed during the last decade.

GlobalData states that these demand rises in the US and Russia will be somewhat offset by a lower increase of 4.8% in Asia, compared to its 6% rate during 2003 and 2013. This will be due primarily to the region’s slower economic growth.   

Carmine Rositano, GlobalData’s Managing Analyst covering Downstream Oil & Gas, says: “Lower feedstock costs from US shale gas production are providing the country with a competitive advantage, with increasing investments in its petrochemical plants driving polyethylene demand growth in both domestic and international markets. Although below recent historical levels, demand in Asia remains fairly robust and will continue to boost expansion in the global polyethylene market.

“As a result, polyethylene capacity is now expected to increase at about 5.3% per year between 2013 and 2018, which is higher than the 3.6% experienced over the last decade. Capacity additions will be most prevalent in the US, given its advantaged cost competitive position, and also Russia, which is augmenting its petrochemical industry to reduce its reliance on imports. New capacity will also continue to come online in Asia, but at a slower-than-historic rate.”

GlobalData states that despite the lower estimated cost of crude oil in the forward price curve to 2018, prices for polyethylene will increase at around 1.3% per year up to the end of the forecast period. This is attributable to petrochemical demand increasing at approximately three times the rate of that for oil.

Rositano continues: “The key trend emerging in the polyethylene market will be the ongoing surplus position in the US, where excess production will be directed to expanding markets in South America and Asia. Additionally, the lower feedstock and fuel costs for US plants, compared with those in Europe, will likely result in future European plant closures and further adjust global polyethylene trade flows.”

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