Supplies of higher alcohols to grow at twice demand rate - firm

08 May 2013 23:45  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Supplies of higher alcohols should grow at twice the rate of demand from through 2015, forcing the existing industry footprint to adjust, a US consulting firm said on Wednesday.

Consumption of higher alcohols increased by 4.5% per year from 2005-2012 because of new supplies reaching markets after large additions of oleo-based alcohol capacity from 2005-2010, said analysts from Colin A Houston & Associates (CAHA), which is based in Aiken, South Carolina.

“Over the next few years, use of alcohol-based anionic surfactants may be favoured in detergent formulations, as nonionics and alkylbenzene sulphonates face respective supply constraints and competitive cost pressure,” said CAHA president Joel Houston.

“Purified ethylene oxide [EO] capacity expansions are not keeping up with the new oleo-alcohol capacity, hindering the growth of ethoxylated products in the short term,” he added.

Asian demand for alcohol-based products has been strong, with new demand developing from additional requirements of liquid laundry detergent products, CAHA said.

Increased consumption of alcohols in personal care produces is driving growth as well, the firm said.

While surplus alcohols are being exported to Western markets currently, trade barriers and new technologies could disrupt the trend, CAHA said.

In regard to raw materials, the shale gas boom in North America has improved the cost position of synthetic alcohols to oleos and is generating new investments in projects that will continue to support that cost position, the firm said.

A wave of new capacity will come on line in the next 18 months, expanding the 2.5m tonne higher alcohols market by another 1m tonnes – and potentially more, CAHA said. More than 60% of the new capacity will be located in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The firm estimates that the higher alcohols market will grow at a 4.9% per year rate through 2025.

By: Jeremy Pafford
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