24 June 2002 00:00 [Source: ICB]
Consumption in Europe and the US, which together account for 50%
of world demand, plummeted by 10% and 20% respectively in 2001,
dragging down global consumption by 7%. Volumes were down into all
the key end-uses (automotive, construction, optical media), but the
downturn was particularly deep in the electronic/information
Demand was still poor in the beginning of this year, but producers say there are now signs that demand is gradually improving. One supplier said May was an excellent month for sales and June looks to be similar.
A glut of new capacity started up in 2001 and more additions due onstream by end 2002 will worsen an already oversupplied market, keeping operating rates down. GE Plastics' 130 000 tonne/year expansion at Cartagena, Spain, will complete this year, doubling the sites capacity, but will only start up when the market improves. It is also adding 75 000 tonne/year at Burkville, US, in 2002. Additional production is also due this year in Thailand and Taiwan.
Second quarter contract prices in Europe rolled over with general purpose moulding grades remaining at E2.70-3.00/kg FD. A small hike of E0.25/kg was achieved on extrusion grades taking levels to E2.55-2.80/kg FD. Suppliers are expected to seek a price increase for quarter three contracts. Spot business has been thin at prices of E2.50-2.70/kg FD NWE.
PC is made by reacting bisphenol-A (BPA) with phosgene.
Polymerisation takes place in an aqueous or non-aqueous solution.
Safety and cost considerations have forced producers to seek routes
which avoid phosgene and several companies (GE Plastics, Bayer,
Asahi Chemical) now use a phosgene-free route which uses diphenyl
carbonate (DPC)as the carbonylation agent.
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical/Mitsubishi Chemical are developing a new route which avoids using solvents, generally methyl chloride. Teijin-Bayer Polytec has developed a new resin, ST-3000, not based on BPA, which has a completely different chemical structure to normal PC. It plans to produce 5000 tonne/year at Matsuyama, Japan by 2005.
PC resin is fairly innocuous. Although fine particles can be inhaled and retained in the lungs, studies indicate they pose no measurable hazard. Vapours and fumes from melt processing may irritate the nose, throat and eyes and molten material causes severe burns. Dust generated during grinding can pose an explosion hazard. PC is inherently resistant to combustion, but produces opaque black smoke when burned.
Future demand growth is put at 8-10%/year. The strongest growth,
at 15%/year, will continue to be in Asia, while Europe and North
America will both see growth of 8%/year.
Optical media will be the fastest growing end use at 9-12%/year with demand of 400 000 tonne in 2000 doubling by 2005. The global sheet market will see growth average 8%/year to 2006 and demand from water bottles will rise from 70 000 tonne in 2001 to 100 000 tonne in 2006. Electronic uses will grow at 5-6%/year.
Supply will continue to outpace demand for some time. Demand is tipped to rise from 1.9m tonne in 2001 to 3m tonne in 2006 by which time capacity will reach 3.3m tonne/ year. Between 2003-06, 1.5m tonne/year of new capacity will start up. Plant utilisation rates are forecast at 80-85% in 2003-04, reaching 90-95% in 2006.
|Baytown, Texas, US||200|
|Map Ta Phut, Thailand||50*|
|Dow Chemical||Stade, Germany||125|
|Freeport, Texas, US||80|
|GE Plastics||Bergen op Zoom,|
|Burkville, Alabama, US||190***|
|Idemitsu Petrochemical||Chiba, Japan||47|
|Yeochon, South Korea||65****|
|Mitsubishi Engineering Plastics||Kashima, Japan||30|
|Polycarbonatos do Brazil||Camacari, Brazil||20|
|SamYang||Chonju, South Korea||50|
|Sumitomo Dow||Niihama, Japan||50|
|Teijin Chemicals||Matsuyama, Japan||120|
|Teijin Polycarbonate Singapore||Pulau Sakra, Singapore||130|
|Thai Polycarbonate||Map Ta Phut, Thailand||605|
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