22 May 2002 13:27 [Source: ICIS news]
MADRID (CNI)--Bisphenol-A (BPA) is expected to take a growing share of phenol output with future world growth rates predicted at 6-8%/year, said Helmut Schmidt, director of sales and marketing at Ineos Phenol, at the ICIS-LOR World Phenol/Acetone conference* here on Wednesday.
In western Europe, BPA’s share of the phenol market has grown from 24% in 1990 to 44% by the end of 2000. In that period, BPA demand has been growing at an average of 11%/year driven mainly by the polycarbonate market, which now accounts for 65% of BPA consumption.
However, Schmidt said 2001 was a disastrous year for phenol. The slowdown of the US economy, the spill-over effect on Asia plus market saturation in the personal computers and telecommunications industries resulted in a real problem for Europe’s phenol industry, he added.
Annualised demand for phenol by BPA in 2001 fell by 260 000 tonne in western Europe while phenol demand from the fibres intermediates sector also declined by 180 000 tonne. This resulted in a slump in phenol capacity utilisation rates from 95% to 85%.
BPA capacity in western Europe has more than trebled from 280 000 tonne/year in 1990 to 890 000 tonne/year in 2001. This compares with an increase in phenol capacity from 1.3m tonne/year to 2.37m tonne/year in the same period.
Schmidt expects phenol consumption in western Europe to increase from 1.73m tonne in 2001 to 2.41m tonne in 2005. This will be made up of ‘disappeared’ demand and new demand.
This scenario calls for new capacity in Europe but Schmidt asked who is going to invest, considering the poor margins. He suggested a partnership between suppliers and customers with locked-in margins as a possible way to proceed.
*The 2nd ICIS-LOR World Phenol/Acetone conference continues on Thursday.
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