Price and market trends: No growth for South American ethylene capacity before 2017 – Dow

07 June 2013 10:02  [Source: ICB]

Over same period, North America's ethylene capacity may increase at a compound annual growth rate of 3.2%

No growth is expected in South America's installed ethylene production capacity before 2017, a Dow Chemical executive said.

The region's ethylene production capacity in 2017 is expected to be 5.6m tonnes/year, the same as it was in 2012, according to Jorge de Zavaleta, commercial director of feedstocks and energy for Dow Latin America. Zavaleta is also president of the Argentine Petrochemical Institute (IPA).

"From 2012 to 2017, no increase in production [is expected]," he said, speaking at the Latin American and Caribbean Petrochemicals conference in Paris, France, on 29 May.

Over the same period, North America's ethylene capacity is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.2%, to 39.1m tonnes/year in 2017, while Europe's ethylene capacity is expected to expand at a CAGR of 0.02% to 2017, bringing it to 30.4m tonnes/year, Zavaleta added.

Asia's ethylene capacity is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.9% between 2012 and 2017, to 69.9m/year by the end of that period. Global ethylene production capacity is projected to stand at 182.2m tonnes/year by 2017, compared with 149.3m in 2012, according to Zavaleta.

Zavaleta also addressed the viability of potential shale gas extraction in Argentina, where Dow has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore the El Orejano shale play. El Orejano is part of the extensive Vaca Muerta shale formation in Neuquen, western Argentina.

According to Zavaleta, Argentina benefits from geological formation similar to the US and Canadian shale gas basins, meaning that technology developed in North America may also prove productive there.

As in the US, on-shore drilling is well-established in Argentina, meaning that qualified technicians and relevant drilling technology is already available there, along with related infrastructure such as gas treatment plants and a transportation network.

However, a lack of government understanding of the importance of its role in developing the country's shale gas sector, and a lack of education on shale gas for many politicians may pose an obstacle to the development of the sector, he said. Investor confidence may also prove to be an issue, he added.

By: Tom Brown
+44 208 652 3214

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