New Europe BD capacity to help finely balance global supply demand

11 September 2012 17:43  [Source: ICIS news]

BERLIN (ICIS)--Europe will remain the primary butadiene (BD) exporting region with volumes set to increase by 2015 thanks to recently announced new projects, but global supply and demand will be finely balanced, Stewart Hardy, a consultant with of Nexant Chemsystems, said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the ICIS Butadiene and Derivatives conference in Berlin, Germany, Hardy said Europe exported 12% of its capacity in 2011 – 2.087m tonnes were produced in western Europe according to the most recent APPE data (Association of Petrochemical Producers in Europe).

Export estimates for 2012 are higher with several market sources suggesting that export this year will surpass all records because of reduced consumption from European BD consumers hit by eurozone economy worries.

BASF, LyondellBasell, TVK and Italy-based producer Versalis have unveiled projects totalling about 425,000 tonnes/year of butadiene to be completed by 2015, increasing capacity by 16% and unlocking previously untapped crude C4 (CC4) feedstock.

German chemical major BASF announced plans in July to build a 155,000 tonne/year BD extraction plant at its site in Antwerp, Belgium, which is expected to start operations in 2014.

In the same month, Versalis confirmed that it would expand its own BD capacity by 25% by building a 70,000 tonne/year extraction unit in Dunkirk, France.

In February, LyondellBasell said it would expand butadiene capacity at its extraction unit in Wesseling, Germany, by 40% to 238,000 tonnes/year. This is expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Hungary-based producer TVK said earlier this year it would build a 130,000 tonne/year BD extraction unit in Tiszaujvaros, due for completion in 2014-2015.

However, while exploiting the previously untapped CC4 is a no-brainer for Europe, it does mean the US - traditionally reliant in crude C4 imports to support its own structurally-short domestic BD production – faces even more of a supply crunch, already impacted on the domestic front by the shale gas developments.

Hardy said that this might be just what is needed to give US-based BD producer TPC’s plan to restart its 270,000 tonne/year butane dehydrogenation unit in Houston, Texas, more weight, although the consultant estimates a completion date of 2017 rather than 2015.

The ICIS Butadiene & Derivatives conference runs until 12 September.

By: Nel Weddle
+44 20 8652 3214

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