Petchem recovery is over as growth now begins - US consultant

23 March 2011 21:24  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The recovery in the world's petrochemical industry is over as real growth has now taken over, the president of a US-based chemical consultancy said on Wednesday.

"We've really returned to sustainable growth," said Gary Adams, president of Chemical Market Associates Inc (CMAI). "We've passed that period of recovery."

Adams made his comments during CMAI's World Petrochemical Conference.

Looking forward, petrochemical capacity will continue expanding in Asia and the Middle East because of their respective access to cheap labour and cheap feedstock.

In North America, the advent of shale gas will give the region a trade advantage in polyethylene (PE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Adams said. Exports of these two plastics - as well as polypropylene - should make up more than 20% of production through 2015.

However, shale gas will not likely benefit oil-based products such as propylene and aromatics, he said. Butadiene (BD) and other related products could actually suffer.

The recovery comes while the overall industry is breaking away with past trends, he said.

Oil prices are rising at an alarming rate, but earnings in the chemical sector continue to excel, Adams said. Capacity additions have reached record levels, but demand and operation performance match up.

"It's a very different time," he said.

The CMAI conference lasts through Thursday.

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Al Greenwood
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