Petrochemicals: Increased ethylene output requires more shipping

21 March 2011 00:00  [Source: ICB]

The ethylene (C2) shipping market is expected to remain balanced-to-tight until at least 20 vessels are built to cope with an influx of material. An increase in global ethylene output will require more carriers to be built between 2011 and 2015. However, lengthy build times will mean space will be severely limited.

Speaking at this month's 6th ICIS World Olefins Conference in Brussels, Belgium, Terje Orehagen, president and chief operating officer of global gas ship owner Norgas Carriers said the proportion of world ethylene production transported by sea had been steady at 4% for the past five years, and a third of this volume was through traders.

"Historically, we have seen world ethylene as monomers traded seaborne at 4% of world ethylene production," he said.

"We expect a steady recovery from 2010 forward which would represent an additional 1.25m tonnes of ethylene exports per year and will require 20-25 ships of above 8,000 cubic meters for regular long haul transportation. It takes two years to build a [gas] ship, so the ethylene shipping market will remain balanced to tight," Orehagen said.

Fueling the demand for gas shipping will be China, which is only 50% self-sufficient in ethylene, he said. Up to 148 vessels worldwide can carry ethylene, but more than 30% of them are used for propylene (C3), butadiene (BD) and vinyl chloride (monomer) (VCM).

Author: Andy Brice and Barbara Ortner

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