Rings said that government targets are too ambitious to be met in the foreseeable future.
“In northwestern China, water is scarce, which is a problem for fracking,” Rings said. “In France, there is nuclear energy, so shale is not such a priority.”
Shale gas remains a tantalising source of feedstock for chemical production, although North America is the only region enjoying strong production levels.
Rings said that the US had several key factors in its favour, especially involving midstream logistics and a need for production in order to decrease its reliance on overseas energy.
Even with shale gas available globally, and even in optimistic growth scenarios, Rings said cutbacks and capacity rationalisation will be needed in the ethylene market.