Styrene to recover role in benzene derivative growth – analyst

13 November 2012 14:37  [Source: ICIS news]

BERLIN (ICIS)--While phenol and nitrobenzene are expected to be key drivers of benzene derivative growth in the coming years, styrene will recover its former importance, a senior industry analyst said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the 11th World Aromatics & Derivatives Conference in Berlin, Germany, Stewart Hardy, global manager, petrochemical market dynamics at US-headquartered consultancy firm Nexant, said that while polystyrene (PS) has seen stagnation in recent years, it is expandable polystyrene (EPS) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) that will drive styrenics between now and 2020.

“ABS is the fastest growing sector, despite the cost pressure from butadiene,” said Hardy, adding that the grey EPS grade – which provides 25% insulation gains over other grades – will also drive growth over the next decade.

Hardy also said that styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) has seen growth, due to product substitution and an overall growth in the tyre and vehicle market in recent years.

Globally, styrene consumption will grow in all regions between now and 2020, although Hardy noted that it is the Middle East and Africa where this will be most pronounced.

Growth has been paralysed recently by macroeconomic challenges, and Hardy also noted that there has been a difficulty in passing on higher upstream costs to derivative markets as they face lower consumption.

There remain some lingering issues that will affect competitiveness on styrene, Hardy said. Europe is now increasingly dependent on benzene imports, much like the US. The US market is at a disadvantage compared to other regions on benzene, but retains a huge advantage on ethylene and utility costs.

The 11th World Aromatics & Derivatives Conference, organised by ICIS and International eChem, is taking place in Berlin on 13-14 November 2012.

By: Truong Mellor
+44 208 652 3214

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