Europe C2 capacity to fall by 3m tonnes/year by 2012 - consultant

03 March 2010 17:49  [Source: ICIS news]

BRUSSELS (ICIS news)--Europe’s ethylene capacity could contract by 3m tonnes/year by 2012 as expansions in the Middle East and Asia result in product backing up into Europe, a consultant at an industry conference said on Wednesday.

The large global producers with facilities in most regions of the world can close plants to balance their systems and optimise operating rates, said Kevin Boyle, a principal with Kevin L Boyle Consulting.

He was speaking at the 5th ICIS World Olefins Conference in Brussels, Belgium.

Access to feedstocks will become a critical decision point, he said, and crackers that are under threat are those that obtain feedstock from refineries at risk of reduced operations.

Boyle said facilities that have access to imported ethylene may have an advantage, noting that ethylene exports from the Middle East to Asia have increased, and this may happen to Europe.

In the scenario he outlined at the conference, Boyle estimated Asian ethylene demand to grow by 4% per year in the 2009-2012 period and capacity by 10% per year.

This would result in net imports of ethylene equivalent falling from 14.6m tonnes in 2009 to 10.8m tonnes in 2012, he said.

Middle East capacity would grow from 17.2m tonne/year in 2009 to 30.1m tonne/year in 2012, according to Boyle.

In the same period, he said, Europe’s capacity would fall from 24.7m tonne/year to 21.8m tonne/year.

Operating rates would fall to low levels in all regions, with Europe’s operating rates down to 70% in 2012, Boyle said.

Assuming a 75% operating rate in Asia, he said around 90% of Asian import demand would be met by the Middle East.

This would leave around 3m tonnes/year of ethylene equivalent that could be sent to Europe, he calculated.

The 5th ICIS World Olefins Conference takes place on 3 March.

($1 = €0.74)

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By: Peter Taffe
+44 20 8652 3214

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