Indonesia before 1997 had three cracker projects and huge demand growth. It was mentioned in the same breath as China. And, of course, then came the crisis.
But this year GDP growth could be the highest since the crisis with the government in sound financial condition.
The case for petrochemical investment is obvious as monomers and polymers are in big deficits. Will anyone take the plunge, though, and build one of the two new crackers that are needed by 2010-11, based on industry association estimates of deficit levels during those years?
The new boss at Titan, the Malaysian buyer of PE producer Peni, says he is interested in a cracker. Let's hope that the cautious optimism over Indonesia is justified.