07 May 2012 00:00 [Source: ICB]
US fatty alcohols demand will rise with the shale gas boom, according to US-based oleochemical trading company IP Specialties.
Fatty alcohols are major feedstocks for many surfactants used in drilling applications, said Martin Herrington, president, North America, of IP Specialties, at the World Surfactants conference held in New Jersey, US, in April.
Herrington noted increasing use of fatty alcohols in the US because of the upswing in shale oil and gas exploration.
"There are huge opportunities for surfactants in the oil field," said Herrington, "We're amazed at what is going on in shale in the US."
Managing cost volatility and being flexible to alternative feedstocks will be part of the challenges fatty alcohols and surfactants suppliers will face as new demand emerges, he said.
Natural alcohols are derived from vegetable oils, while synthetics are made from chemical routes using either ethylene or natural gas in a gas-to-liquids process.
IP Specialties estimated global fatty alcohols capacity as of 2011 at 3.3m tonnes. About 70% of the capacity comprises natural alcohols and the rest are synthetics.
Asia occupies 54% of the total capacity while North America accounts for 19%, Europe at 21% and the rest of the world at 6%. Detergents, by far, are the largest user accounting for 70% of total fatty alcohols demand, said Herrington.
Additional reporting by Doris de Guzman in New York
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