Tightness in US propylene, butadiene to persist - Shell

07 June 2011 03:25  [Source: ICIS news]

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (ICIS)--The chronic tightness in US propylene and butadiene markets seems set to persist, as novel approaches to on-purpose output of the ethylene co-products is not yet economic, a Shell executive said on Monday.

"We are looking at it, but we are nowhere near anything which is close to commercialisation," said Ben van Beurden, executive vice president for chemicals at the Anglo-Dutch energy company.

"Around the world, propylene is getting tight, but particularly so here in the US," he said, citing the trend toward lighter crackers feedstocks that in turn has crimped supply of the two co-products.

Actually adapting operations to deliberately produce butadiene seems unlikely to happen anytime soon, the Shell executive said on the sidelines of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) annual meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"Sure, there are on-purpose technologies for that, but I wonder who will be the first company to take the plunge," van Beurden said.

"It's more likely in my mind, going forward the next few years, that you will see a very, very tight position," he added.

Shell has been bringing some crude C5 streams to the US from Europe, then upgrading that product at its Deer Park plant in Texas, van Beurden said.

"Maybe you'll see more of that happening, basically aggregating sub-scale streams of crude C4s and C5s, before you see the industry taking a big bet on on-purpose production," he said.

The ACC meeting started on Monday and ends on Wednesday.

For more on propylene and butadiene visit ICIS chemical intelligence 

By: Stephen Burns
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