China to drive global oleochemicals demand – consultant

30 January 2013 10:57  [Source: ICIS news]

KUALA LUMPUR (ICIS)--Global fatty acids and fatty alcohols consumption is expected to record a compound annual growth rate of 4% between 2011 and 2022, driven by strong increases in China, according to an industry consultant on Wednesday.

Demand for glycerine, which is a by-product of oleochemicals and biodiesel production, is projected to expand at an annualised average rate of 7% during 2007-2021, said Frost & Sullivan consultant Lim Jin Han at the ICIS Asian Oleochemicals Conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Fatty acids sales in China could rise to 5.5m tonnes by 2022 from 3m tonnes in 2011, amid growth in such downstream sectors as plastics and detergents, he said.

Based on the projected demand, China’s share of the global market will rise to more than 50% from around 45% currently.

China’s fatty alcohols demand is tipped to reach 878,000 tonnes or about 28% of the global market in 2022, based on an annualised average growth rate of nearly 9%, Lim said. Consumption totalled 380,000 tonnes or less than 20% of global demand in 2011.

“This is driven by rising demand for detergent and surfactant applications,” he said.

The detergent sector accounted for about 41% of total fatty alcohols demand in 2011.

Glycerine supply growth, Lim said, will come mainly from expansions in biodiesel production, while new downstream applications such as epichlorohydrin, propylene glycol and acrylic acid will help to drive demand increases in the long term.

Lim cautioned that the oleochemicals capacity expansions taking place mainly in Asia in the next several years will likely hurt the global plant utilisation rates. This is because the global market already has sufficient capacity to meet demand growth through to 2014/2015.

New fatty alcohols capacity, which is expected to increase by 1m tonnes/year by 2015, may drag down the capacity utilisation rates to 49% from 56% in 2011, the Frost & Sullivan consultant said.

The two-day ICIS Asian Oleochemicals Conference ends Thursday.

By: Yeow Pei Lin

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