31 March 2003 19:54 [Source: ICIS news]
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CNI)--US chemicals exports lost because of the increase in natural gas feedstock costs are not likely to be recovered, delegates at the 28th NPRA International Petrochemical Conference (IPC)* were warned here on Monday.
Peter Huntsman, president and chief executive of the Huntsman group, argued that higher feedstock costs were largely responsible for the recent sharp decline in exports which last year resulted in a $4bn-5bn (about Euro3.7bn-4.6bn) negative trade balance in US chemicals trade.
He said that some 2.5bn lbs (about 1.1m tonne) of ethylene demand growth has been lost to US producers.
Referring to the loss of overall chemicals exports in general but ethylene in particular, Huntsman posed the question: "Will it come back?"
His answer was: "I doubt it. That is probably product that is permanently lost to American petrochemicals producers."
He said in reference to ethylene supply and demand that the US industry had suffered in recent times from the 'perfect storm' of economic recesssion, overcapacity and uncompetitive raw materials.
Huntsman added that these conditions continued to pose the most challenging conditions the US chemicals industry had ever faced.
"Consolidation will continue to happen and must continue to happen for the US chemicals industry to remain competitive on a global basis."
*The IPC runs through Tuesday (1 April).
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