Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Petrochemical Demand -- July 27, 2016

To my "Big Stories" post I am adding this "big story" under "US Energy Revolution": petrochemical demand.

I know absolutely nothing about this, but across all economic sectors, from Apple computers to Zynga applications, it seems, there is a pretty good match between supply and demand. If there are mismatches in supply and demand in any sector, it seems minimal, of interest only to specialists, and quickly corrected.

I would assume the same is true for petrochemicals. Has anyone seen any stories of a dire shortage of petrochemicals around the world? Have there been any headlines that the world is about to come to an end as we know it because of a shortage of petrochemical plants? If so, I haven't seen them. Until recently, I haven't even thought about petrochemical plants. And now that I've thought about them, I can't find any stories reporting that the world is facing a dire shortage of petrochemical plants. And yet, all of a sudden, a day does not go by, it seems, that I am not reading about yet another petrochemical complex being planned, constructed, or opened.

When I face a conundrum (as opposed to say, a corundum), I tell my grandchildren and my wife to either a) follow the money; or, b) google it.

In this case, a google search led to 164,000 hits in 0.35 seconds.

This was the 2nd hit: petrochemical demand for oil set to hold through 2021 -- IEA. Data points from the article:
  • along the US coast, seven world-class steam crackers are now under construction
  • ethylene capacity is project to increase by almost 40% in the US between now and 2021; increasing the demand for ethane by around 500,000 bbls/day 
  • global oil demand for petrochemicals is expected to remain robust through 2021
  • the demand for petrochemicals is expected to increase by roughly 2 million bbls/day from 2015 through 2021, an annual growth rate of almost 3%
  • growth will be led by the US, the Middle East, and China
  • the main feedstocks are: naphtha (50%), LPG (propane, butane, ethane)(40%), and recently methanol (mainly in China)
  • 70% of oil is used in dedicated steam cracker; converts oil into a wide range of petrochemicals
  • US has traditionally been the leader; accounts for a fifth of the total petrochemical sector
  • the Middle East: 15% (vs 20% for #1, US)
  • rounding out the top six: EU (14%), China (13%), Korea (8%), and Japan (6%)
  • China's demand for oil demand growth will be dampened by "use of coal as a comparatively cheap feedstock in coal-to-olefins and methanol-to-olefins plants."

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