C2/C3 exports likely on Thai domestic oversupply

23 May 2007 17:07  [Source: ICIS news]

ANTWERP, Belgium (ICIS news)--Increasing domestic ethylene (C2) and propylene (C3) capacity will lead to a clear oversupply of material in Thailand by 2009-10, an industry expert said on Wednesday.

However, improving derivative demand and good opportunities for regional exports mean that the Thai petrochemical industry will still grow well, said Khunying Thongtip Ratanarat, senior consultant at the Petroleum Institute of Thailand.

Speaking at the Fourth ICIS World Olefins Conference, Thongtip said that the gap between ethylene and propylene supply and equivalent demand would widen significantly between 2006 and 2011, while nearby Malaysian, Singapore and Indonesian balances would remain quite stable.

Greater olefins capacity would become available because of Thailand’s requirement for increased  electricity generation, produced by natural gas routes.

Thailand’s position as a net exporter of ethylene and propylene would therefore increase, she added.

Talking more generally on key Asian economic indicators, Thongtip said that southeast Asia economies were an attractive investment proposition, with average GDP at 5.5% in 2006, low fixed costs and the lowest average wage rate in Asia.

As a result, the global cost advantage for developing ethylene production capacity in sourtheast Asia was second only to the Middle East, said Thongtip.

The so-called "third wave" of Thai petrochemical industrial developments, which runs from 2004-2018, was centred on a vision of growth which would include focusing on developing exports.

South China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia all represented good options for Thai exports and investments, Thongtip said.

Critical drivers for the third wave also included using as much natural gas for petrochemicals as possible, building a sufficient quality resource base and improving policies and regulations to support petrochemicals investments.

On derivatives demand, the electronic and automotive sectors were currently showing the highest growth rates. Previously strong agricultural and plastic film, sacks and bags demand had now slowed, she said.

The experienced local conversion industry, which developed before the petchem sector, provides a good manufacturing base from which to manage local and external demand, she added.


By: Edward Cox
+44 20 8652 3214

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