24 March 2013 20:55 [Source: ICIS news]
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--Nearly all of the cracker projects and expansions announced in the US will become a reality, a consultant predicted on Sunday, saying some in the industry have underestimated how shale gas and ethane availability will drive growth in the US over the next few years.
Plans to build seven new crackers and expand existing ethylene plants could add around 10m tonnes/year of ethylene capacity in the US, or 37% of the total installed capacity today.
The expansions are driven by growth in the production of ethane, the price of which will remain low enough in the coming years to make the US a competitive player in the global industry, said Robert Bauman of Polymer Consulting International.
The price of ethane will eventually strengthen on increased cracker demand, but the US will continue to enjoy a competitive edge against other regions that rely on heavier feedstocks, Bauman said on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC).
Ethane now accounts for 60% of the US ethylene feedstocks, a figure that could jump to 75-77% in 2014 as the first wave of expansions begin to come on stream, another consultant predicted recently.
Hosted by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the IPC continues through Tuesday.
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