CHEMICAL PROFILE: 1-octene

06 August 2007 00:00  [Source: ICB]

Uses

The main use of 1-octene is as a comonomer to make linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), which accounts for 56% of world consumption. Regionally, about 47% of 1-octene is consumed in LLDPE in the US, with 46% in Western Europe, 80% in Asia-Pacific and 86% in Japan.

Other uses include plasticizers (33%), surfactants (4%), pulp and paper (3%), lubricants (2%), synthetic acids (1%) and alpha-olefin epoxides and rubber processing chemicals (0.3% each).

Supply/Demand

According to TranTech, global capacity was 608,500 tonnes in 2006, 232,000 tonnes of which was in the US, followed by Western Europe and South Africa, with 128,000 tonnes and 100,000 tonnes respectively. Canada, Eastern Europe, Japan and Asia/Middle East had capacities of 70,000 tonnes, 40,900 tonnes, 25,900 tonnes and 11,400 tonnes, respectively.

Global consumption was 578,000 tonnes split 48.3% in the US, 25.2%, in Western Europe, 5.8% in Canada, 5.1% in Asia-Pacific, 4.3% in Japan, 4.2% in Asia/Middle East, 2% in Latin America and 1% in Africa. South Africa was the largest exporter, of 89,000 tonnes, and Asia-Pacific was the largest importer, accounting for 29,500 tonnes.

Prices

The price depends on purity: comonomer grade requires purity of at least 99%. June contracts for high-purity grade were 83-88 cents/lb, €1.50-1.60/kg, and $1.91-2.01/kg, in the US, Europe and Asia, respectively

Technology

Linear alpha olefins (LAO) including 1-octene are commonly manufactured by two main routes: oligomerization of ethylene and by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis followed by purification. There are four commercial processes that oligomerize ethylene at high pressure operated by INEOS, Chevron Phillips, Shell Oil (SHOP) and Idemitsu.

Sasol's new process based on conversion of 1-heptene to 1-octene was due on stream last month. Sasol is also working on selective tetramerization of ethylene to 1-octene, to be commercialized before 2020.

SABIC/Linde's new LAO process, alpha-Sablin, is being commercialized by SABIC for 2008. This is a low-pressure ethylene oligomerization process over a heterogeneous catalyst in a slurry bed.

UOP has developed a new ethylene oligomerization LAO process but no commercial plants have been built to date. Sasol operates the only commercial process to isolate LAO from synthetic crude.

Health and safety

The chemical 1-octene is a flammable liquid with a gasoline-like odor. It is partially soluble in acetone and very slightly soluble in methanol. It can irritate the skin, eyes and lungs.

Outlook

Demand has been rising fast, mainly from Dow Chemical's use in its LLDPE. Annual global growth is forecast at 7.4% to 2011. The highest growth is expected in Asia-Pacific (18%/year), and Asia/Middle East (12%/year). Markets in Western Europe will grow at 8%/year, and at 6%/year in the US, Canada and Eastern Europe. Australia/New Zealand, Africa, Latin America and Mexico will see demand rise at 5.5%/year with Japan at 4%/year.

Sasol's 100,000 tonne/year plant in Secunda, South Africa, was due online in July. SABIC plans a 150,000 tonne/year LAO plant in Saudi Arabia in 2008, including 30,000 tonnes/year of 1-octene. Iran's National Petrochemical Co. (NPC) plans a 150,000 tonne/year LAO plant, producing 25,500 tonnes/year 1-octene, for 2009. But TranTech warns that despite these investments, there will be a shortage of capacity by 2011.


Global 1-octene CAPACITY(2006) '000 TONNES/year

Company Location Capacity
Chevron Phillips Chemical Cedar Bayou, Texas, US 98.5
Godrej Industries Bharuch, India 11.4
Idemitsu Petrochemical Chiba, Japan 15
INEOS Feluy, Belgium 76.4
INEOS Joffre, Alberta, Canada 70
Mitsubishi Chemical Mizushima, Japan 10.9
Nizhnekamskneftekhim Nizhnekams, Russia 40.9
Sasol Secunda, South Africa 100
Shell Chemicals Geismar, Louisiana, US 133.9
Shell Chemicals Stanlow, UK 51.6
SOURCE: TRANTECH CONSULTANTS

Profile provided by TranTech. Tel: +1 610 647 7374 or email: amirnazmi@chemplan.com

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