06 February 1997 00:00 [Source: ICB]
Trade in chemical gases will continue to be driven by world demand for plastics and globalisation of markets.
However, growing emphasis on Asia-Pacific as a producer and consumer of plastics will pressure other world regions, warned Roger Van Baal, director of trading company Integra, addressing the Chemical Tankers and Trade Conference in Athens on 29 May.
In his paper entitled The Markets and the prospects for trading in chemical gases, Van Baal estimates global consumption of polymers will grow from in excess of 97m tonne in 1996 to 149m tonne by 2005.
North America, western Europe and the Asia-Pacific will continue to represent the largest consuming regions.
But the sharpest growth will be in the Asia-Pacific, with the region's share of world plastic consumption set to rise to 39% by 2005, predicts Van Baal.
Of the polymers, polypropylene will stay the star performer with projected world growth of 5.3%/year from 1996-2005.
As a result, predicts Van Baal, much of the focus in gas shipping will be on how Europe and Asia Pacific will cover their propylene deficiencies and what will happen with the excess ethylene, particularly from North America.
For propylene, Van Baal expects to see increased deep-sea activity, mainly between the Americas into both Asia and Europe. New splitter capacity, located within easy access to the US refineries, will mean more US polymer grade is freed for export.
With regards to ethylene, Van Baal expects to see European supply return to balance by the second half of 1997, as plants come back onstream and inventories return to comfortable levels.
Van Baal predicts reduced North American ethylene imports to North Europe but increased imports from North Africa and Italy during 1997. The Asia Pacific's demand for ethylene will continue to drive deep-sea trade. He expects to see increased intra-Asia-Pacific movements with Australia exporting, India importing and exporting, Korea importing and potentially Thailand exporting also.
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