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Petchem Gas Trade 2019-2030

“Global ethylene, propylene and butadiene markets are shifting, A fresh look at future seaborne petchem gas trade”


New plants/bigger ships, how much can this trade expand towards 2030?

  • As the first wave of new US ethane-based ethylene plants is coming into operation, a second wave appears on the horizon.
  • At the same time, China is building new ethylene plants – both traditional naphtha crackers, as well as new ethane crackers and further coal-based olefin plants.
  • The Western European ethylene industry looks under threat from these developments, and there is a genuine prospect of ethylene plant rationalization.
  • Some parts of the world are now seriously addressing issues such as plastics recycling, and traditional GDP-related ethylene demand growth rates may be undermined, if not immediately, then within the period to 2030.
“How far will low US ethane costs promote greater US ethylene exports? And will this be against a backdrop of drastically reduced ethylene import requirements by China? Are Europe’s days as a significant ethylene exporter over?”


Will new Chinese capacity stunt propylene trade?

  • China continues to add propylene capacity through new steam crackers, refineries, coal-based plants, and especially new PDH plants.
  • The USA, Europe, Middle East Africa, and other parts of Asia are also adding PDH-based propylene capacity.
  • Global propylene demand is still growing strongly, but these new investments present a challenge in terms of how much new capacity is needed and where the propylene will be made and where it will be consumed.
“How will this affect the global propylene balance and trade? As European olefin production is likely to be squeezed will Europe become a significant propylene importer in the short-term and possibly the long term.”


is Europe’s role in butadiene trade about to diminish?

  • Butadiene markets are caught between low supply growth as lighter cracker feeds are utilized and low demand growth. Previously key butadiene exporters like Europe may face declining butadiene availability, while some importers have been investing in their own butadiene production. How far will this effect butadiene trade flows?


What will be the impact in shipping?

  • Is the current status of ethylene capable fleet? Does the market need additional capacity to satisfy the future seaborne trade growth?

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