FocusIran’s PE, PP demand forecast to grow 7-8% to 1.7m tonnes

05 November 2010 05:31  [Source: ICIS news]

Iran’s PE, PP demand to grow by 7-8% By Prema Viswanathan

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Iran’s polyolefin consumption in the current fiscal year is expected to hit 1.7m tonnes, translating into an annual growth of 7-8%, industry sources said on Friday

Polyethylene (PE) would account for the bulk of total at 1.09m tonnes, while polypropylene (PP) consumption would total 630,000 tonnes at the end of Iran’s fiscal year on 21 March 2011, they said.

Demand would have been stronger, with growth possibly in the 20% level, if not for the international sanctions on Iran, said an industry sources. The sanctions had slowed down investments into Iran's automotive and electronics - the key downstream for polyolefins.

Iran’s projected domestic consumption in the current year was about 45% of the country’s polyolefin production capacity at 3.8m tonnes/year.

The country has around 2.8m tonne/year nameplate capacity for PE and can produce 1m tonnes/year of PP, according to ICIS data. But plants were not running at full capacity due to production hiccups.

Driving up consumption was Iran’s utilities sector, whose demand for PP and PE pipes was very strong, industry sources said.

“The gas and water supply segments are expanding at a very fast pace in Iran and this is fuelling the 10% demand growth for PP and PE pipes,” said one source.

PE pipe grade consumption was expected to hit 250,000 tonnes/year in the current year, while demand for PP random copolymer pipe grade (PPR) was estimated to grow to 80,000 tonnes/year, the source said. (refer to table below)

“While PPR consumption is currently much lower that that of PE pipe grade, PPR is expected to replace PE pipe grade in the coming years, especially multi-layer pipe for hot water applications,” he added.

Iran currently produces only natural PE pipe grade, and has to import black compounded PE pipe and PPR pipe grades, said a Tehran-based trader.

“We have been importing most of our pipe grade PE and PP from South Korea, and some from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia,” he said.

But imports from South Korea had slackened in recent months due to the newest round of sanctions, the trader added.

Among the high density PE (HDPE) grades, film grade had the strongest growth, with consumption volumes estimated to hit 210,000 tonnes in the current year, industry sources said.

“This is not surprising, as demand for HDPE film from the food packaging segment has been very strong,” said another trader said.

This demand would entirely be met by local supply, as Iran enjoys surplus production of HDPE.

In the PP segment, the fibre and raffia grades had the strongest demand, mainly coming from the carpet and food grain sectors, a second trader said.

“The Iranian government has been directing local polymer companies to give priority to domestic consumers and export only after catering to local demand, which mitigates to some extent the impact of the sanctions,” said an Iranian end-user.

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections
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By: Prema Viswanathan
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