GPCA ‘11: Shale gas, coal to help bridge feedstock gap - CRA

14 December 2011 14:59  [Source: ICIS news]

DUBAI (ICIS)--Low refining capacity growth will lead to a tightening of petrochemical feedstock supply and other sources of raw material will be needed to help close that gap, a consultant said on Wednesday.

Oil-based sources will remain dominant in the coming years, but shale gas-based natural gas liquids (NGLs) and coal will help bridge the feedstock gap, said CRA International vice president Neil Checker during a presentation at the sixth annual GPCA (Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association) conference.

Although shale gas is often referred to as a potential global phenomenon, that is still mostly a US story when it comes to a chemical feedstock, he told attendees at the event.

The US will generate some 6m tonnes/year of new shale-based NGL feedstock supply over the next eight years, the consultant predicted.

He said that volume would be enough for an additional 5m tonnes/year of olefins and 4.5m tonnes/year of polyolefins in the coming years.

Coal will also play a key role in meeting olefins feedstocks needs, particularly in China, Checker said.

China will continue to rely on imports, but increased coal-to-olefins production in the country will reduce its dependence on foreign monomer, he added.

Coal is a very competitive feedstock in China for ethylene production, the consultant said, estimating it to have a 20-30% advantage over naphtha-based ethylene in China.

Bio-plastics will also grow as an alternative to oil-based plastics, but the share of plastics made from renewable feedstocks will remain very small when compared with other feedstocks.

The share of bio-plastic is 0.3% of the market now, Checker said, predicting that the figure will be less than 1% in 2020.

By: William Lemos
+1 713 525 2653

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