InterviewAsia Pacific is key to long-term petrochemicals prospects

07 May 2009 12:26  [Source: ICIS news]

SHANGHAI (ICIS news)--ExxonMobil Chemical president Steve Pryor said on Thursday that the business environment for the petrochemical industry would remain tough for 2009 and maybe even 2010, but that long-term prospects were very strong, with Asia Pacific playing a key part.

“Chemical demand will grow over the long term with growing economies,” Pryor told ICIS news in Shanghai.

“Growth will be concentrated out here [Asia Pacific]. The competitive landscape will change a little bit with a mix of players.”

He said that despite the industry downturn, ExxonMobil’s fundamental view of future business remained positive. “We expect petchem business to continue to grow at two or as much as three percent above world GDP [Gross Domestic Product],” he said.

Pryor reiterated what ExxonMobil Chemical executives had said in the past: 60% of world petrochemical growth would be in Asia Pacific and about half of that would be in China.

“And by 2015 Asia pacific will have become 50% of the world market. So that is a big shift and it is logical if you look at the growth in GDP, growth in population, that’s where the world economic growth is going to be concentrated.”

The largest part of ExxonMobil’s $2.8bn of investment into chemicals in 2009 would be in the Asia Pacific region, Pryor said.

However, he did not see any short-term improvement in the business climate.

“If I take a worldwide perspective on this, I do not see anything fundamentally improved,” he said.

“There are a couple of bright spots here and there, a couple of areas where things seem to be kicking up, which frankly may simply be some restocking of the supply chain.

“But when I look beyond it, I don’t see anything fundamentally that is yet turning up in terms of demand, so I expect that we will be in for a challenging year in 2009,” Pryor added.

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By: Alfred Wong
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